Email is a Commodity, Collaboration Isn’t

The nature and provisioning of IT is changing. Clouds. SaaS. Ubiquitous Computing. Prosumers. Personal Tech. Mobility.

Getting out of IT maybe the IT strategy of the future.

The apparent low hanging fruit of this is email. Email is a commodity. Get out of email for students. Google. Microsoft. Whatever. And, it’s free. W00t!

So if this is the case why does the University of Guelph still operate its own email service and pay for it? (BTW we use Zimbra in collaboration with Scalar, our vendor partners). Isn’t free better? What gives?

The reason is simple: the real objective is collaboration. Email may be a commodity but collaboration isn’t.

Outsourcing email to Google or others is simple and easy if the objective is to provide low cost/free, reliable email. And basically just email. And mostly just for students.

The Zimbra infrastructure we support is a collaboration environment that includes all faculty, students, staff, and others associated with the University. Integrated. Comprehensive. Multi-functional.

Email. Calendaring. Briefcase. Collaborative Documents. RSS. Emergency Notification. Task Management. Sharing. etc. etc. A host of information and productivity tools are incorporated into to the suite or added on a specialized apps. The key is integration. And integration supports collaboration.

I have nothing against the cost effective provision of student email; universities these days are under extraordinary financial pressure. It’s just free isn’t always cheap. And commodity isn’t always the objective.



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