Western Email System Change Coming - How will it impact you?

Earlier this month, Western University announced that it is beginning the next phase of the project to replace its campus-wide email platform (known as Convergence) to a new cloud-based system called Microsoft Office 365.

This next phase includes moving the Western email accounts (i.e. those ending in @uwo.ca) of all faculty and staff in Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. The current status of this initiative is one of consultation and planning. Western ITS, is now ready to work with our School to validate their draft plan (i.e. work out the details of the roll-out including the timing). However, in their plan, ITS currently has Western email accounts for faculty and staff in Schulich Medicine & Dentistry scheduled to move on May 5, 2016.

How will this impact you?

In addition to the information provided in previous emails by Western ITS (on March 1st and 18th), Schulich Information Services (IS) believes it is important to provide you with a few key points on how this will impact you.

Do you forward your Western email to another account?

If you forward your @uwo.ca email to another system such as the Hospital or Schulich Medicine & Dentistry GroupWise systems or the Robarts email system, the impact is expected to be low. The forwarding will remain in place after your account is moved and this phase of the project will be largely transparent to you.

Do you use the Western (@uwo.ca) system as your primary email account?

If so, you will be impacted the most by this change and you will be the primary focus of planning to ensure that proper support is in place to ease the transition. Western ITS will be working with Schulich IS, the departmental administrative offices and others to ensure a smooth change-over from Convergence to Office 365.

What are the privacy implications of the move to Office 365?

Since Office 365 is a cloud based service meaning that it is hosted on servers external to the University, Western completed a comprehensive Privacy Impact Assessment. The assessment found that Microsoft's controls align with University security policy and privacy obligations. However, administration is sensitive to any of your concerns related to privacy. As such, they are providing two mechanisms designed to mitigate privacy risk and concerns.

  • ITS will be launching a secure file sharing system in the spring of 2016; this system will facilitate the ability to securely share sensitive/confidential information within the University environment (as an alternative to email). Further and specific details about the new service will be released by Western ITS in the near future.
  • The option for individual faculty to defer moving their Western account until Microsoft has Canadian servers available (some time later in 2016). This is designed to provide those who may be concerned about the US surveillance apparatus potentially having access to their email data, an option that may provide more privacy protection by having the servers reside in Canada and under Canadian law and jurisdiction. You only have until March 31 to defer. More detailed information on delayed migration can be found at myofficeinfo.uwo.ca . A copy of the full Privacy Impact Assessment with more detailed information can be found here. In addition, to assist you in making an informed decision on this matter, Schulich information Services has published a memo outlining important considerations.

What is the future of the campus GroupWise system (@schulich.uwo.ca)?

The implementation of Office 365 provides an opportunity to re-analyze the Schulich GroupWise system moving forward. In the next few months, Schulich IS will be engaging in a comprehensive analysis (in consultation with you) to gauge the viability of moving campus GroupWise accounts to the Office 365 system. Please note that this pertains only to the campus GroupWise system and does not include the Hospital or Robarts email systems; Any specific information pertaining to those systems are managed and communicated by Hospital and Robarts IT respectively.

What are the next steps?

  • Western ITS will be working with Schulich IS and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry departmental administrative offices to plan and execute the details of this change.
  • Sharing your feedback - If you have questions, concerns, or thoughts, please let Schulich IS (sergio.rodriguez@schulich.uwo.ca) know - we want to work together to make this change a success.

Is there more information that can be accessed?

A few additional links are available for you to find information or make further inquiries: