[CSG Winter 2006] Some Minimalist Approaches to Integration: Depending on the PDA, Exchange without Exchange, etc.


Roger Hanson from Wisconsin is talking about their progress on integrated approaches to PIMs.

User Services came to them saying “there’s a stampede for Exchange!” They started looking at Exchange. Why are people using Exchange? They went to talk to over 30 places that are using it – most were using as a simple mail system – not using calendar or public folders. They looked at what it would take to do Exchange on a campus basis – the more they looked at it the less they wanted to do it, because they didn’t have a whole Windows infrastructure to support it.

They looked at other options – Notes, Groupwise, Zimbra, Scalix, etc.

But what is it that people really want? Can they achieve the kind of collaboration people want without Exchange?

They already had widespread and growing use of campus email (imap) and growing acceptance of the campus calendar system (Oracle).

How could they achieve the kind of integrated collaboration with tools they have now? What do you see on the desktop in Exchange? You see Outlook – can they achieve that integration? Answer should be yes – with the Oracle Outlook Connector and exposing Xythos public folders in Outlook.

Year ago August did initial deployment of Xythos – now have over 28,000 accounts – rapid growth in both student and fac/staff.

The are looking at how people use personal information – students are typically the biggest users of web clients. Students messaging paradigm is heavily influenced by IM – they want to start a message process by clicking on a person, rather than by clicking “new message” then entering an addressee.

They found that gmail is not people’s favorite web mail client – Yahoo! is more liked.

Mobile devices is rapidly becoming more important – not “high profile” devices like Blackberries and Treos, but web-enabled cell phones with simple messaging clients.

Now Tim Gleason from Harvard is sharing some of their experiences.

Tim notes that timeliness of data is increasingly important. New data types are being introduced (SMS, IM, Audio and Video messaging).

Devices have improved, users are pressing for more and better access to data, real-time access is important, connectivity methods have improved (but have introduced managability challenges)

Data synchronization – is generally limited to proprietary approaches, ranging from cradle sync to over-the-air approaches.

At Harvard the Med school implemented Exchange in 2002. Word started getting out about the level of functionality it provided. At around the same time Harvard realized that they were at the end of the road with Meeting Maker, and were considering refreshing their imap servers (see Fall 2004 CSG materials for details).

They embarked on an Exchange implementation project, after an 18 month evaluation phase. “It’s not as simple as you think”. Implementation for 4000 administrative staff. They want to support a broader range of devices than just Blackberries.

They’re still thinking about cost models – it looks like Exchange costs will come to between $8-9 per month per user. Over-the-air sync is expensive, due to cell phone data time charges.

There are lots of challenges in supporting multiple devices, and that support is expensive.

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