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MU's Division of IT upgrades storage, recovery of e-mail system

Thursday, April 16, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – MU's Division of Information Technology is updating the e-mail systems for students and faculty this summer, which will greatly increase storage space and improve recovery of files.

Students will switch to Microsoft Office Outlook Live, and faculty will upgrade from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, said Terry Robb, IT director of marketing and communications.

Outlook Live will increase students’ storage quota from 40 MB to 10 GB. Storage quota for faculty and staff will increase to 2 GB when the new e-mail system is in place.

Outlook Live allows students to use instant messaging features and some blogging tools, in addition to increased storage space. Students also will be able to keep their e-mail addresses forever, no longer losing them after graduation.

Student e-mail addresses will also become @mail.mizzou.edu, instead of @mizzou.edu. Robb said students have to transfer existing e-mail messages to the new service themselves, but IT will publish instructions.

In addition to extra storage space, faculty will also receive an updated disaster recovery system for files, using redundant, off-campus data storage with high-speed access, according to IT’s Web site.

David Crain, IT director of systems and operations, said with the current system it would take hours for e-mail service to restore information. The new system, he said, would greatly reduce the time factor.

“The back-up system will be up and running in minutes with everything if something happened,” Crain said. “It’s a big step up from a disaster recovery stand-up as well as the storage quotas.”

Robb said a change of this nature is standard procedure for IT.

“Every three to five years, we look to evaluate our applications for major version changes,” he said.

He said storage space is easier to supply now than it was when the current e-mail system was first installed.

“The real issue with storage was it was really expensive,” Robb said. “It has gotten increasingly cheaper over the years, so it allows us to increase the quota.”

IT already has the equipment necessary for a conversion to Exchange 2007 for faculty and staff by June or July.

Students’ migration to their system depends on when Microsoft will allow the conversion.

Crain said he was confident that students could begin the switch right after the current semester ends, ending by early summer. He said the worst-case scenario for students’ migration is right before the fall semester begins.

“In the past, because the e-mail quota was so small, they would have a primary e-mail, but they still have to check their student e-mail and forward messages,” Crain said.

“Now, students will be more likely to use their new e-mail because it is an address that they can use forever and the larger e-mail box.”


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Comments

Anton Berkovich April 16, 2009 | 1:14 p.m.

Terrible idea to be going with Microsoft for email services. A school shouldn't promote the services of one particular company to students, especially since Microsoft is known for stifling and playing dirty with competition.

http://edge-op.org/grouch/schools.html

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 16, 2009 | 2:04 p.m.

Microsoft is known as a security nightmare don't forget.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 16, 2009 | 3:57 p.m.

Speaking as a software tester, all software has bugs. Microsoft's track record has been improving of late when compared to other operating systems/software providers. Still not perfect, but then no one is.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich April 16, 2009 | 4:04 p.m.

"Microsoft's track record has been improving of late when compared to other operating systems/software providers."

In what regard? Specifically, what other OS's and software providers are you talking about? Please be specific with your vague, unfounded claims. Of course, what do I know about any of this. It's not like I'm a expert "software tester," just a lowly computer engineer.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 16, 2009 | 4:25 p.m.

Art, I am speaking in reference to various Linux distros and alternate browsers such as Opera (which I use), Firefox, and so forth. None of them are measurably more secure, other than OpenBSD from what I have read, and I would argue that Microsoft is doing a better job at fixing vulnerabilities than Apple, for instance, which has often taken months to patch problems in open-source applications that they ship.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond April 16, 2009 | 4:45 p.m.

Honestly, outlook live isn't bad. If they need to do any data retention or anything of the sort, there is a much bigger array of software presently available to work with it and they'll have an easier time finding new employees that are already familiar with it.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich April 16, 2009 | 4:49 p.m.

“I am speaking in reference to various Linux distros and alternate browsers such as Opera (which I use), Firefox, and so forth...”

Again, you are being vague when it comes to Linux. There are thousands of linux distros out there, because the code is available to free for anyone to make their own version of the OS if they wanted. I just compiled a distro for myself earlier today just to see if i could learn more about the process. I don’t actually plan on giving it out to anyone or for heavy use. So, if you want to somehow imply that certain linux distros have problems, you should be more specific, as there are tons available to try. Also, your statement that Internet Explorer is safer than Firefox, and other open source browsers, is completely false:

“New IE8 still the slowest browser”
http://www.computerworld.com/action/arti...
command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9130070

Also, can you explain to me why Internet Explorer’s market share has and is still dropping? Thanks for the expert advice, software tester!

“None of them are measurably more secure, other than OpenBSD from what I have read”

From what you have read? That’s nice to know of what little experience you have with what you’re claiming. Other operating systems are more secure.

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/securi...

“I would argue that Microsoft is doing a better job at fixing vulnerabilities than Apple, for instance, which has often taken months to patch problems in open-source applications that they ship.”

Please do argue that. But by argue, give me some evidence. What open source applications does Apple ship? Their operating system is based on open-source architecture, the Unix code, but it itself is not open source. I’d love to hear about their open source apps though, thanks! And please give me specific issues that Microsoft did better than Apple that took months? I’d also like to hear which OS of the two companies requires more patching to begin with. Thanks for the help!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 16, 2009 | 5:34 p.m.

Art Vandelay I love your style and finally something we can agree upon that Mickey Mouse Software is not secure.

When I get the time I like to beta test programs for a programmer friend of mine who lives in Wisconsin.

Last Linux distro I had time to play with was Centos and it was not that bad.

If Winblows was so secure how come most of your world wide web servers are running Linux based distro's which incorporate far better security and over all dependability.

Your major MMORPG servers are all Linux based servers due to the long run dependability with almost no rebooting required unlike Winblows.

Most all of your major hospitals across this nation were supposed to convert to Linux based distro's last I had heard because of the security issues with Windows.

If Winblows is so secure how come people have to run so many added programs just to lasso it into performing as it should.

If Winblows is so awesome how come new age hackers are decompiling it and rebuilding it in their own image of how it should be ie: Windows Vista Black Dream Child Forever Full (January 2009)which looks dam nice.

The one problem with Outlook Express is the common or even those who consider themselves power users download willingly or unwillingly all of their email off the main email servers to their own computers and unknowingly lots of times viruses and Trojans right along in the mix.

I have one such friend who keeps doing this even though I keep explaining how bad it is. Some never listen.

I'll stick to viewing my email through my web browser ie: Firefox any day over using any email download client. I have never gotten a virus or Trojan via email ever through viewing email via this browser.

All in all it looks like M.U. took the easy road to fixing a long running known problem once again instead of investing in the long term solution the first time around.

Your tax payer dollars at work for you people.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 17, 2009 | 1:02 a.m.

Art, you sure are asking for specific information when it was you who started with the vague open source link to start the discussion. Go take a gander at:

http://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/search...

which compiles CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, as cataloged by Mitre from various security reports, bulletins, and email lists) and makes that information available in a searchable format. Searching on Apple finds 42 reports from the last three months. Some are in Java, some are in Safari, a couple were in iTunes, and others are in various apps, some derived from open source, that Apple ships with MacOS. There were 49 hits on Microsoft in the same timeframe, 49 for Linux, and 23 returns for Linux kernel. If you grabbed an older Linux kernel when building your distro, congratulations, you may have packaged a vulnerability.

I am not arguing that Microsoft or IE or Office are more secure than its competitors, but that those who claim the other applications/operating systems are leaps and bounds better are fooling themselves. There will always be bugs and until end users demand better quality or agree to trade-off security for features and higher prices, they will continue to exist.

"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards." {Gene Spafford}

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 17, 2009 | 5:07 a.m.

>>> There will always be bugs and until end users demand better quality or agree to trade-off security for features and higher prices, they will continue to exist. <<<

One thing though John that is leaps and bounds above all else with any Linux Distro is that when they update the Distro "they upgrade the entire Distro" not just apply a patch here or there as Winblows is famous for.

That simple fact makes Linux Distro's far above and beyond Mickey Mouse Software each and every time in every instance.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond April 17, 2009 | 8:55 a.m.

http://get.liveatedu.com/Education/Conne...

You all looked at this right? I'm assuming by this talk about linux distros you didn't. Mizzou isn't hosting any of the software, Microsoft is. I would feel a little more relieved.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 17, 2009 | 9:29 a.m.

King Diamond why feel relieved when with their Engineering students and their Computer Technology Section if they ran a Linux System they could just host their own instead of throwing money at Mickey Mouse Soft Inc.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich April 17, 2009 | 9:57 a.m.

"You all looked at this right? I'm assuming by this talk about linux distros you didn't. Mizzou isn't hosting any of the software, Microsoft is. I would feel a little more relieved."

Nothing in my posts mentioned any problem with who was hosting the software. I'm assuming you didn't read my posts, then! ;)

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 17, 2009 | 10:38 a.m.

I hate to admit this, but Chuck has a REALLY good point.

Don't get me wrong, Microsoft makes some AWESOME products, and I use them. Their Office Software is simply unbeatable. But...

Cost wise; nothing beats Linux! It is open source and thus FREE! I use both. I use Windows 7 on four laptops, Windows XP on an EEEPC and a desktop, Linux Kubuntu on three desktops, Linux Ubuntu on a phone server, and Free BSD on my firewall running a customized version of pfSense. I also have a 2003 Exchange Server. The Linux systems cost me nothing, the Microsoft Windows Systems cost me a pretty good chunk of change.

Primarily the decision to use either Microsoft or Linux is dependent upon the computer user's skill set. Microsoft Windows Products are designed to be user friendly, and that ease of use is what the consumer is paying for. Linux Systems are not as user friendly, and it takes a considerable amount more computer knowledge to set these systems up the way the computer user wants them set up; but mostly Linux Systems and the software for them are free..

However, in this instance, it does puzzle me a little that MU would spend the money on Microsoft when I know for a fact they have some outstanding Linux people in their IT Department that could effectively set up a Linux of Free BSD server?

Rick.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 17, 2009 | 10:49 a.m.

Rick, one possible thing to remember is that Microsoft might be cutting Mizzou a sweetheart of a deal to get their foot in the door and build brand recognition with the students. For instance, you can get Office at a vastly-discounted price if you are a student. I don't imagine Microsoft is doing that just to help the budgets of the stereotypical starving student, ya know?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 17, 2009 | 10:54 a.m.

Linux Security v. Windows Security:

It is true that Linux does have it's bugs. Most of these bugs though are fixed with kernel updates. However, one thing to consider is whether these bugs could be exploited remotely or locally. For the most part with Linux systems the bugs can only be exploited locally. This is not to say that someone could not install a root kit and then remotely
get root on the machine. However, their are FAR less viruses that affect Linux systems than Windows systems (Windows is the target of choice for virus writers).

It is not necessarily true that when an update comes out the entire Linux System is updated, only when a newer kernel version is released. Linux does also update the individual software packages, and more frequently than new kernel versions are released. The kernel work is mainly done by Linus Torvalds, and he does a damned good job of fixing bugs in each new kernel version. The individual software packages are usually updated by the person or company that wrote the software.

Windows IS more vulnerable than Linux. But this is only because most people that are trying to exploit computer systems target Windows. Windows is a little easier to exploit, because of the difference in how user privileges are set up between the two Operating Systems.

I'll imagine as Linux gains popularity, we will see more and more vulnerabilities in the Linux OS.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich April 17, 2009 | 10:57 a.m.

Rick,

You bring up some interesting points, and I would like to comment on a couple. I think anyone would agree that it's hard to establish firm impressions of any company or software in the tech industry, since new software is always coming out and changing. If someone suggested to me 15 or so years ago that Apple would come to dominate the mp3 and online music industry, I probably would have laughed in their face. Funny how times change, huh?

With that said, I think it's some of the claims you made about Microsoft designing it's products for ease of use are a bit misleading. My grandpa, for example, is over 70, and has been using Ubuntu for the past couple years with no problems. Granted, he doesn't do much more than email, word processing, and browsing for news on Firefox (but really, what do most consumers use their computers for anyway?), he has had no problems with it, despite never having owned a PC before this one we built for him. If he can figure it out, then I don't see why any college student can't (and if they can't even grasp something as simple to use as Ubuntu, then they certainly shouldn't have the privilege of having guns on campus....just kidding, that's a separate debate ;) ).

"it takes a considerable amount more computer knowledge to set these systems up the way the computer user wants them set up..."

ok, I'll concede a bit to that. But I think it would be more accurate to say that it takes more knowledge and tech-skills to set up a Linux distro to act and function exactly how they were used to in Windows. For someone like my grandpa, who came in with a blank slate, he was fine. It's an interesting point you bring up, and one that is asked a lot among the open-source community; how much Linux should try to emulate certain features of Windows, or how much it should try to do it's own things. (That's the beauty of it, though. There are so many to choose from, and there are some that are designed to be exactly like Windows, and others not.)

Anyway, my issue isn't really with costs of software. But that is an important point. With tough budgets, the school could be saving so much by encouraging open-source software. A couple years ago, in undergrad, I was in the Brady computer store, and I overheard a student talking over the phone with her mom with a store employee nearby, trying to figure out how she could have paid for Office. Yes, it's cheaper for students, but that doesn't make it cheap. I think it's very, very wrong of the school to strongly encourage students to purchase proprietary, closed software, when there is absolutely no harm in suggesting free, open source alternatives which function just as well. My older brother got through law school without touching Microsoft Office once (remember the days when you could get by with a typewriter? haha)

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich April 17, 2009 | 10:57 a.m.

Maybe it's just personal philosophy, and I understand the economic necessities, but I just feel that schools should encourage free alternatives, and not be locked into licensing deals. Take a look at the J-School, they "strongly encourage" students to purchase a Mac and Microsoft Office, and their main points rest on the capabilities of the "iLife" suite of software. Pretty lackluster point if you ask me.

By going with Microsoft, MU is promoting a company that actively works against the open-source community, stifling the free flow of knowledge and data that the linux community strives so hard to encourage. It's a philosophical issue dealing with the nature of how a school should promote education for me more than an economic issue.

By the way, for anyone interested, the newest version of Ubuntu is being released in a few days, and it is completely free. You don't even have to install it to try it. You can download it, burn it to a CD (or order one at cost), and run it right off the CD if you're curious to play with it without putting it on your computer. Whether or not you're a fan, it's hard to deny the strides the Linux community has made in the past few years, and I for one am pretty damn excited to see where it goes.

PS - If Microsoft software is designed for ease of use, why is Internet Explorer market share dropping, and the open-source Firefox market share growing?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 17, 2009 | 10:58 a.m.

John Schultz April 17, 2009 | 10:49 a.m.

Rick, one possible thing to remember is that Microsoft might be cutting Mizzou a sweetheart of a deal to get their foot in the door and build brand recognition with the students. For instance, you can get Office at a vastly-discounted price if you are a student. I don't imagine Microsoft is doing that just to help the budgets of the stereotypical starving student, ya know?
------------------------------------------------------------

That is very true, John. The college and it's students get some really nice discounts on Windows Products. And, while the IT Department is capable of setting up a nice and secure Linux Server, it does not mean that the students are not going to need a lot of support to get their computers set up to for email and such, especially if all they have ever used were Windows Systems.

Good point, John.

Rick.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 17, 2009 | 11:09 a.m.

Most of the people I see on the Underground Scene are college aged students from around the world looking for Mickey Mouse Software full versions because they do not want to pay for the buggy software that Mickey Mouse Software Inc. puts onto the market.

Why pay for buggy software when you can download it for free in Open Sourceware or full version Winblows based.

Alot of the college age students are switching over to Linux Distro's due to security issues in Winblows and they seem very eager to learn how to use Linux over the too user friendly Winblows environment.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 17, 2009 | 11:12 a.m.

Art, I agree with ALL of what you posted. But, my comment about ease of use is not so much about the casual computer user, but instead it is more about what we might refer to as the "power user".

If all you are going to use the computer for is browsing and email, you could have someone come into your home and set up almost ANY OS there is (even Linux and Unix Flavors) with a nice GUI, and the casual use might not EVER have a problem, no matter which one you picked.

But what about the "power user", do you think that a person using Linux can download software as easily as a person using Windows? I am not talking about the package systems on Linux (Yast, RPM, Apt), I am talking about software that they would have to compile? Do you think that it would be as easy for the Linux user to even set up their wireless on their laptop as it is with Windows, if they had a newer or fairly "odd" wireless card? Do you think it is just as easy to set up encryption on a Linux System as it is on a Windows System (PGP v. GPG). To you and I these might be fairly easy tasks, but to the person that has never used a Linux System before, it can be a little more daunting than it would be on a Windows System.

These are more specific examples of what I am referring to with regard to ease of use issues.

Rick.

(Report Comment)

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