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Penn Live: A Case Study in Updating the Student Email System Ira Winston John MacDermott Chris Mustazza University of Pennsylvania Ira Winston John MacDermott.

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Presentation on theme: "Penn Live: A Case Study in Updating the Student Email System Ira Winston John MacDermott Chris Mustazza University of Pennsylvania Ira Winston John MacDermott."— Presentation transcript:

1 Penn Live: A Case Study in Updating the Student System Ira Winston John MacDermott Chris Mustazza University of Pennsylvania Ira Winston John MacDermott Chris Mustazza University of Pennsylvania

2 The Decision to Outsource & The Selection Process

3 School of Arts & Sciences (SAS)  Penn (est. 1740) is an Ivy League university in Philadelphia ranked #5 by US News and World Reports  SAS is the largest of the four undergraduate schools at Penn  500 standing faculty in 26 academic departments  6500 undergraduates in 52 majors  Penn (est. 1740) is an Ivy League university in Philadelphia ranked #5 by US News and World Reports  SAS is the largest of the four undergraduate schools at Penn  500 standing faculty in 26 academic departments  6500 undergraduates in 52 majors

4 The Decision to Outsource  Spring environment  IMAP/POP/Webmail (IMP)  75mb quotas  5 year old Sun hardware – end of life-cycle  heavy webmail usage  30% of students forwarding to ISP’s  Spring environment  IMAP/POP/Webmail (IMP)  75mb quotas  5 year old Sun hardware – end of life-cycle  heavy webmail usage  30% of students forwarding to ISP’s

5 The Decision to Outsource  Prevalence of good free services  Outsourcing and other communications functions is an acknowledgement that the outsourced providers have a better product than most universities offer.  Prevalence of good free services  Outsourcing and other communications functions is an acknowledgement that the outsourced providers have a better product than most universities offer.

6 The Decision to Outsource  Many students already forwarding  Given that most incoming students (90% in our case) are already using Gmail, Windows Live/Hotmail/MSN, Yahoo or AOL they are quite comfortable with these systems and anything we provide would have to better  Many students already forwarding  Given that most incoming students (90% in our case) are already using Gmail, Windows Live/Hotmail/MSN, Yahoo or AOL they are quite comfortable with these systems and anything we provide would have to better

7 The Decision to Outsource  Freeing Resources  The resources freed up can be used to provide services that can uniquely be provided by universities.  Freeing Resources  The resources freed up can be used to provide services that can uniquely be provided by universities.

8 The Decision to Outsource  The student perspective  Students’ main interest is having a.EDU address, which can be provided without providing an actual account. .EDU nameplate valued because:  School address may look more official when writing to potential employers  Social networking sites use students’ domain to determine which university a student attends – Facebook  The student perspective  Students’ main interest is having a.EDU address, which can be provided without providing an actual account. .EDU nameplate valued because:  School address may look more official when writing to potential employers  Social networking sites use students’ domain to determine which university a student attends – Facebook

9 The Selection Process  Consultation with students  Coordination with Wharton and other schools at Penn  Legal issues  Consultation with students  Coordination with Wharton and other schools at Penn  Legal issues

10 Implementation

11 Mail Flow  Once the decision was made to outsource , the first significant implementation detail was how to manage mail flow:  Creating a new mail domain with the MX record pointing to your provider’s servers -or -  Bifurcating your existing domain* *our choice  Once the decision was made to outsource , the first significant implementation detail was how to manage mail flow:  Creating a new mail domain with the MX record pointing to your provider’s servers -or -  Bifurcating your existing domain* *our choice

12 Creating a new domain

13 Creating a new domain - considerations  Pros -  Little to no maintenance work (admin time)  No hardware requirement  Cons -  Unless all students use your new provider, you will have students with dissimilar domains  Not scalable - if you decide to partner with multiple providers later, you would have to bifurcate this new domain or create yet another one  Pros -  Little to no maintenance work (admin time)  No hardware requirement  Cons -  Unless all students use your new provider, you will have students with dissimilar domains  Not scalable - if you decide to partner with multiple providers later, you would have to bifurcate this new domain or create yet another one

14 Bifurcating a domain

15 Bifurcating a domain - considerations  Pros -  All students receive mail at the same domain  Mail relays can be dual-purpose: relaying mail to your provider and also managing forwarding to any other address a student chooses to use  Cons -  Need mail admin staff to create and maintain routing rules  Need redundant mail relays  Complicates whitelisting and SPAM filtering  Pros -  All students receive mail at the same domain  Mail relays can be dual-purpose: relaying mail to your provider and also managing forwarding to any other address a student chooses to use  Cons -  Need mail admin staff to create and maintain routing rules  Need redundant mail relays  Complicates whitelisting and SPAM filtering

16 Penn Live Account Creation  Creating a Penn Live account is really a 2-step process:  Provisioning the account on Microsoft’s servers  Setting up a forwarder so that students’ school mail is forwarded to the Hotmail servers  Creating a Penn Live account is really a 2-step process:  Provisioning the account on Microsoft’s servers  Setting up a forwarder so that students’ school mail is forwarded to the Hotmail servers

17 Penn Live Account Creation  Step 1 – User logs into a custom web front-end to create an account  Front-end interfaces with an MIIS server, server used for creating Windows Live accounts  Step 1 – User logs into a custom web front-end to create an account  Front-end interfaces with an MIIS server, server used for creating Windows Live accounts

18 Penn Live Account Creation  Step 2 – we set the student’s mail to forward to the Hotmail servers

19 Choices for Managing Mail  Students have several choices for managing their SAS 1.Using Penn Live 2.Forwarding to an account of their choosing 3.Students with existing legacy accounts may continue to use them  Students have several choices for managing their SAS 1.Using Penn Live 2.Forwarding to an account of their choosing 3.Students with existing legacy accounts may continue to use them

20 Forwarding to a non-Penn Live Account  We give our students the ability to forward to any account of their choosing, using the same technology we use to forward to Penn Live  Students can log into a custom web interface that allows them to change the location where their school mail is delivered at any time  We give our students the ability to forward to any account of their choosing, using the same technology we use to forward to Penn Live  Students can log into a custom web interface that allows them to change the location where their school mail is delivered at any time

21 Support & Findings

22 Documentation  Re-organized help documents  Explain choices  Extensive FAQ  Client configurations  Mail Migration Techniques  Other decision support information  Re-organized help documents  Explain choices  Extensive FAQ  Client configurations  Mail Migration Techniques  Other decision support information

23

24 Documentation  Penn Live Blog  Informal tone  Announcements  Bugs and workarounds  Others ephemeral issues  Provides a forum for comments  Penn Live Blog  Informal tone  Announcements  Bugs and workarounds  Others ephemeral issues  Provides a forum for comments

25 Support Services  Created new position, “Project Manager for Student Technology”  Revised support model for services  Reorganized Help Desk with new focus on support for students  Extended hours of coverage  Created new position, “Project Manager for Student Technology”  Revised support model for services  Reorganized Help Desk with new focus on support for students  Extended hours of coverage

26 Support Services  Help issues  Relatively few questions about features  Lots of questions about forwarding  Client and mobile device configuration  Turned up some bugs, several related to Mac users  Help issues  Relatively few questions about features  Lots of questions about forwarding  Client and mobile device configuration  Turned up some bugs, several related to Mac users

27 Support Services  Targeted communications for specific populations  Gmail users  Hotmail users  Targeted communications for specific populations  Gmail users  Hotmail users

28 Support Services  Penn Live user survey  Identified areas of common concern (IMAP, SPAM filtering)  Learned more about usage patterns  Platform and browser preferences  Clients and mobile devices  Identified & addressed lots of individual issues  Penn Live user survey  Identified areas of common concern (IMAP, SPAM filtering)  Learned more about usage patterns  Platform and browser preferences  Clients and mobile devices  Identified & addressed lots of individual issues

29 How well does Penn Live meet your needs? n=287

30 Mail Delivery Choices: College Undergraduates (6500 students)

31 Mail Delivery Choices: College Undergraduates as of 1/1/08FRSOJRSRTotal% Penn Live % Mail.SAS % Gmail % Other ISP % Total %

32 Findings  Choice is good but…  Choice can lead to confusion “ How do I forward Penn Live to my GMail account? ”  Choice is good but…  Choice can lead to confusion “ How do I forward Penn Live to my GMail account? ”

33 Findings  Hazards of forwarding to other ISPs  Setting the “from” address  SPAM filtering  IMAP matters  Hazards of forwarding to other ISPs  Setting the “from” address  SPAM filtering  IMAP matters

34 Findings  A non-story at Penn

35

36 Next Steps  Roll-out to ~2400 graduate students  Continued analysis of usage data & help requests  Continued refinement of help docs  Calendar services  Collaboration tools  Roll-out to ~2400 graduate students  Continued analysis of usage data & help requests  Continued refinement of help docs  Calendar services  Collaboration tools

37 Next Steps  The end of mail.sas  Moving resources to other priorities  Investing more in wireless networking  Information security  Media systems  The end of mail.sas  Moving resources to other priorities  Investing more in wireless networking  Information security  Media systems

38 Ira Winston Chris Mustazza John MacDermott Ira Winston Chris Mustazza John MacDermott


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