On the evening of Friday, April 24, the IT Department will move the City’s internal email system to Microsoft’s cloud-based email service known as Office 365. The City’s email system has been hosted on internal servers at City Hall for over a decade.
“Our goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible for everyone. We’re not changing the way people access and use email, we’re making email better,” says Heath Douglas, IT Director. “When people come into work on Monday, they might be prompted for their password once. Otherwise, Outlook will look the same.”
Some City-issued smartphones may be affected by the change and users may need to reset their email configuration. Employees should be able to do this themselves but IT staff will be on call that weekend to provide assistance.
The move to a cloud-based service modernizes the City’s email system and brings many new features and upgrades, including:
- Much larger email boxes for city employees
- Online email archiving capability
- New look and feel for Outlook Web Access
- Improved security and redundancy
“Moving to a cloud service has many advantages,” says Heath.”We are getting more and more requests for larger mailboxes. Digital files are getting larger and our current mailboxes are small by modern standards. This move provides a much needed space increase and will help a lot of employees manage their mailboxes better.”
Email archiving will get a well-deserved facelift. “People need to archive email and we wanted to make that easier and more accessible,” says Heath. “Right now, if you archive email messages you can’t access them through Webmail. With the cloud service, we’ll have a single, unlimited archive that can be accessed from anywhere. This helps simplify email archiving which benefits everyone.”
The new service also brings improvements to Outlook Web Access or Webmail, the tool for employees to check their email away from the office. It will look more like the desktop version of Outlook and will allow access to their new online email archive.
The Microsoft Office 365 version that the City will be using is intended for governments and has a higher level of security than other versions of the service.
“This service has federal level government entities using it,” says Heath. “The infrastructure is based in the continental United States and is only used by government entities.
“It’s the smartest way to provide email for the City going forward. Upgrades will be easier and redundancy is built into the service. We’ll be able to stay current with less impact to our business. Bigger email boxes, better archiving — it’s going to be awesome and we’re very excited about it.”