IT Services testing Office 365 email, calendaring in preparation for pilot

IT Services has received clearance to test Microsoft Office 365 internally, within their organization. Following this test, pilots with interested innovators will begin to evaluate Office 365 as an option for MSU departments and colleges to use for email, calendaring , and other services.

IT Services is building a team dedicated to the implementation of Office 365 and is now working directly with Microsoft consultants on the current CampusAD and authentication structure at Michigan State University in preparation of rolling Office 365 out to campus.


Office 365

Office 365 is a suite of office software hosted in the cloud by Microsoft. It includes Exchange email and calendars, Office Web Apps, Lync instant messaging and conferencing, and SharePoint file sharing.

Microsoft offers a contract for academic institutions that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This ensures that data will remain in the United States.

Project background

In April 2013, MSU executives put the Office 365 project on hold while further investigation into the system’s stability and efficacy of cloud email services was done.

University executives felt it was important that moves to Office 365 be optional, rather than mandated with MSU departments and colleges. This approach allows departments to choose to be part of Office 365 or fund a separate email system.

At this point, a moratorium remains on departments or colleges moving to Office 365 independent from this central initiative.

The pilot

The Office 365 pilot, tentatively planned for spring 2014, will involve a group of innovators comprised of a few, small departments, some of whom have already been chosen.

Pilot participants will be asked to sign an agreement detailing the benefits and risks of using a cloud service and the areas of service responsibility assumed by Microsoft and IT Services. The results of the pilot and Microsoft consultant involvement will help inform and develop an implementation plan for the entire campus.

When the pilots are successfully working, the service will be rolled out to additional departments and colleges.

More information

The Office 365 project site offers more details. There is also an Office 365 listserv where project updates are shared.

IT Services details its milestones to improve email and calendaring in the 2013-2104 Action Plan. MSU community feedback is welcome on the Action Plan site.

If you would like your department to be considered for the Office 365 innovator or early adopter groups, please contact Steve Devine or Cynthia Ghering, IT Services Content and Collaboration.