Ask someone with a University of Texas email account to speak honestly about the service, and they might struggle to contain their frustration. While major web-based email services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail have quickly advanced their features and storage capacity, the University of Texas and its Microsoft Exchange service has fallen behind.
Undergrads, for example, get only 150 MB of storage, which means they often have to delete old emails to send new ones. The features offered by UT's web-based email are also limited.
But that should all change in the spring. University of Texas Chief Information Officer Brad Englert told KUT News that the university's email system is going Google.
"Our student leaders who serve on our IT advisory committee asked me last spring to look at third party alternatives, and this is the result," Englert said.
For users, it will mean a dramatically larger inbox size of 7 GB. That's almost 47 times larger than the 150 MB inboxes. The change will also provide users with a Gmail interface, which means additional features like these.
But the actual email address will retain a University of Texas brand, as will the look and feel of the inbox, according to Englert.
"The other exciting thing is it will include our alumni," Englert said. "We have 400,000 alumni, including myself, who have been asking for a University of Texas branded email account, and this will enable that to happen," he said. A domain name for the alumni email has yet to be chosen.
Outsourcing the service to Google will cost the university about the same as what it pays now to maintain its servers, Englert said. That figure is about $80,000 to $100,000 per year.
Google is rapidly expanding its base of business customers and presenting a credible threat to Microsoft's dominance in the enterprise market. In recent weeks, Google has claimed as new clients Austin-based Yeti Coolers, Jason's Deli, Virgin America, Multnomah County, Oregon, NYU, and the state of Wyoming, among others.