Victoria University chooses Microsoft for IT infrastructure refresh

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Victoria University chooses Microsoft for IT infrastructure refresh

When faced with the task of refreshing its outdated IT system for its 45,000 students, Victoria University decided to deploy Microsoft’s Live@edu program instead of Gmail or building its own in-house system.

Microsoft developed Live@edu about a year and a half ago to provide educational institutions with a suite of co-branded Microsoft Internet products that are customised to the needs of the school.

The package includes school-hosted email based on the Hotmail and Exchange platforms, instant messaging with Windows Live Messenger, a blog through the Spaces program, up to 5Gb of online storage with SkyDrive, and Workspace, which allows students to share and collaborate on documents with partners in real-time.

The system has been deployed at thousands of universities around the world and several universities and TAFE institutes in Australia, including Queensland Institute of Technology, University of New South Wales, and University of Queensland.

Live@edu is free of charge to schools, but Microsoft gains revenue through advertising on the Live Messenger and Spaces programs.

Victoria University says that although price was a factor in the decision, it believes Live@edu provides integral features that Google's free e-mail service, Gmail, is lacking.

“The low cost was attractive, but it wasn’t the main thing; our emphasis was on the social functionality Live@edu offers,” said Phil County, Director of Information Technology Services at VU.

“We were impressed with the social networking flavour of the program, as well as the potential in the future to integrate it with our internal infrastructure.”

“The instant messaging, blogging, desktop sharing we have with Live@edu, all that stuff isn’t done as easily with Gmail, especially if students have Office.”

The feedback from VU students has been very positive thus far, even amongst Mac users who experience a lesser degree of functionality with Live@edu.

So far, about 90 percent of the student email accounts have been activated, which County said is more than he saw in use under the previous system.

Live@edu allows students to keep those email accounts and other program features even after they graduate, and which may insure them with stronger ties to their alma mater.

“The students can keep their emails forever after they’ve graduated, even though there are some changes to the presentation, like advertisements, etc.,” said County.

“This is a great way to keep in touch with graduates and enhance alumni relations.”

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