Plans are underway for a major overhaul of the UCD e-mail system, which will see the existing IMAP Student Mail replaced with a Google-powered network.
If the proposal goes ahead, students will have access to over 7GB of storage capacity, as well as a fully customisable e-mail interface and access to integrated Google Apps.
Speaking with The University Observer, IT Services’ Communications Officer, Olivia Jackman, explained: “The process began with a panel of UCD students and staff reviewing the service offerings from a number of providers.
“Many universities in Ireland and abroad have already moved their services to Google and feedback from the UCD panel indicated that customers would like a move to Google powered mail.”
Having passed a technical assessment, the plan is currently in its pilot stage in which feedback from test groups is being evaluated.
Students from the Quinn School of Business have been involved in this process from the start and took an active part in the customer review sessions.
When asked if criticism of the current system is the reason for the switch, Olivia Jackman stated: “The existing student mail environment has not received much criticism,” she said. “The replacement of the server infrastructure for the existing system would be required soon and this, as well as the possibility of offering greater e-mail capacity and integrated apps for students led us to assess the suitability of cloud services.”
The Google Apps software is designed to allow freer and more effective communication within the entire campus body and is provided cost-free and ad-free to most third-level institutions.
IT Services have already introduced Google Calendar and access to Google Docs last year, but the new Gmail system will allow student mailboxes to integrate with these and numerous other Google applications. E-mail addresses will remain the same and will continue to be available to students even after they leave UCD.
The system has proven extremely successful in many other Irish universities, including Trinity College, where students have been availing of the free service since its inception in 2007.
IT Services have confirmed that the UCD Connect environment will continue as normal with access to the new e-mail environment being provided within UCD Connect.
No date has been confirmed for the transition to Gmail, but IT Services will decide this in conjunction with Registry and other official bodies within UCD when the test period is over.