Curtin University has begun rolling out Microsoft's cloud-based Office365 suite to 10,000 staff in the first public move by an Australian customer ahead of the product's official launch next week.
The university began replacing on-premise Exchange services this week with internal and Microsoft staff, along with some consultation from integrator Dimension Data.
Implementation was expected to take up to four months, beginning with trials of less than 100 pilot users in the IT department to iron out "complex variations", including those using shared folders and calendars, those with personal assistants and non-traditional email users.
Curtin CIO Peter Nikoletatos told iTnews that once implementation was completed, staff would be given the option of using the Office 2010 software deployed last year or the web-based productivity applications.
"We think that the richness of the Office online experience in the cloud will naturally take its course," he said. "We're starting to see that already with Live@edu where students are already using a lot of the function points in the Office products online. We think staff will naturally go down that path as well."
The move, four months in the making, came after the university ditched trials of the Business Productivity Online Suite previously pushed by Microsoft on the software giant's advice.
Microsoft had trialled the cloud-based productivity suite with several Australian and companies spanning 60 to 3,000 user samples since the beginning of the year, and was expected to reveal launch customers at an official event next week.
One trial customer had migrated staff across multiple countries to the service.
Though the university typically licensed Microsoft products through a shared arrangement with university IT body Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT), Nikoletatos said Curtin had gone alone for the licensing costs on Office365 as a point of differentiation from other educational bodies.
License costs wouldn't change significantly, he said.
Curtin has previously moved its 50,000-strong student base and 150,000 registered alumni to Microsoft's Live@edu cloud suite hosted in the same Singapore data centre as the Office365 product.
Nikoletatos said the implementation was the latest addition in the university's "adventure to the cloud and beyond" which also included building an internal private cloud on Virtual Compute Environment infrastructure, along with Optus' own private cloud for infrastructure-as-a-service.
The institution was also looking to adopt VMware's Cloud Foundry platform for Java applications and Microsoft's Windows Azure platform for other development.