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The Daily Tar Heel

Moving on up: Single user interface for messaging and calendar at UNC will help with effciency, collaboration

The move to Microsoft Exchange for faculty and staff will bring messaging and calendaring management for UNC employees into the 21st century.

The current system is inefficient and utilizes disparate systems that are difficult to sync with devices.

In addition to UNC Webmail, employees use the Oracle calendar system. This system is not integrated into Webmail. Accessing the calendar offline requires downloading a special client. Such decentralized services are an inefficient way to conduct business. The Carolina Counts initiative, which is charged with carrying out the efficiency recommendations prepared by Bain & Company last year, strongly urged transition to a unified system.

The new system will bring together the services that employees of the University need under a single system and a single user interface.

Because Microsoft Exchange plays nicely with mobile devices, employees can easily sync their mail and calendar.

It will improve the use of collaborative tools, such as SharePoint, which will allow employees to collaborate and manage content. Exchange provides a solid base from which to utilize this service.

In mid-October, Information Technology Services will mass-migrate the entire calendar system from Oracle to Exchange Calendar in order to preserve all of the connections associated with meetings. Smooth transition is not an easy process, but it is well worth it.

And while employees will be the most immediate beneficiaries, the experience with transitioning to and using Exchange will provide the insight of experience that can affect students down the road.

ITS is currently talking with the Student Technology Advisory Board about the future of student e-mail. Both should watch and evaluate Exchange closely in determining the future of how students will e-mail and calendar.

After all, efficiency, user experience and mobile access are important for them too.

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