October 30, 2009

New Vmail system to boost e-mail resources

New Vmail system to boost e-mail resources

All Vanderbilt faculty, staff and graduate student e-mail will be powered by Vmail, Vanderbilt's new enterprise messaging system, by the end of the academic year, resulting in expanded online collaboration tools and significant savings to the University and Medical Center.

Vmail is Vanderbilt's institution-wide implementation of Microsoft Enterprise Exchange 2007.

“Our new enterprise messaging service frees people to collaborate however they choose, whether it's in person, using their mobile device or at their desktop,” said Matthew Jett Hall, associate vice chancellor for Information Technology Services and associate chief information architect for enterprise infrastructure.

The project began in March and is scheduled to be completed by March, 2010. When complete, more than 36,500 mailboxes will have been moved.

New features include a better mobile experience, enhanced Outlook Web Access features, shared calendaring and increased base mailbox space.

In the past, University and Medical Center e-mail ran on five different systems. When the e-mail consolidation project is complete there will be just two — Google's Gmail for undergraduates and Vmail for graduate students, faculty and staff.

The consolidation offers substantial savings to Vanderbilt by dramatically reducing the amount of hardware, staff time and data center space dedicated to multiple e-mail platforms.

The Enterprise Exchange 2007 environment is also more secure than existing systems and offers new features for the more than 10,000 people on campus using PDA smart phones such as iPhones, Blackberries and Windows Mobile devices.

“With Vmail you can remotely wipe your PDA in case you lose it, so your information doesn't fall into the hands of someone that shouldn't have it,” said Shanmuga Sundaram, director of ITS strategy and planning.
The project's cost and space savings are just a small part of its benefits.

Vmail will facilitate broader use of Microsoft's Office Communicator and Unified Communications, which enable full integration of phone, instant messaging, video conferencing and more.

For example, with Unified Communications, missed phone calls and voice messages appear in your e-mail inbox, e-mails and calendar items can be heard through voicemail, and your calendar indicates when and how you are available for a phone call, video call or instant message.

The Office Communicator and Unified Communications project is a pilot project at this time.