Making the Switch to GMail

Nick Sasso

Early this semester students ran into the all too familiar roadblocks of the web portal: for some ten hours students were unable to login to Blackboard and access the information they needed. What is more, the current Microsoft Outlook E-mail system continues to be a hindrance with its constant log-outs and space limitations. But the future is bright; as early as the end of this semester students will be switched to the long awaited GMail system and a hard working Information Technology Services (ITS) department will continue to work behind the scenes to ensure students have no problems when online.

The steps towards the shift to GMail began over the past year and last August the new system was being tested. The switch to GMail would garner advantages for not only the students, but the school as well.

“You get unlimited storage space, much better user interface, larger attachments, a better way to organize your e-mail and things like that,” SGA Policy Coordinator for Technology Initiatives sophomore Mike Schneider said.

Colgate would become the first liberal arts school to embrace this new system. Schneider believes that GMail would make communication for students exponentially easier and would end up saving Colgate a large sum of money. SGA estimated that it would cost $140,000 over five years with the current system to do what GMail can do for free.

With all these advantages, the corresponding SGA group met last Thursday to set up a timeline to begin the switch.

“We’re going with a definite fall timeline as the latest date that everything is going to happen,” Schneider said. So definitely next year the incoming students will have a GMail account. And definitely by that time, and hopefully earlier, existing students will have switched over as well.”

The switch will begin to take place this week for the groups of students who have signed up to test the system.

With Colgate making strides in its e-mail system, students may wonder about other frequently encountered technological issues.

“The technology infrastructure here at Colgate is really complex and as a result … these various servers are interacting with one another and sometimes they get a little bit out of sync, and during that period of time you all of a sudden can’t log on to the portal,” Chief Information Technology Officer David Gregory said about usual problems. Gregory would like students to understand that Colgate’s network is a vast and intricate system that, like any other large network, is prone to glitches.

While problems may be commonplace, the ITS personnel work hard to resolve issues as soon as they can. What is more, the number of actual issues resolved daily is astronomical.

“We get bombarded by some 40,000 attacks daily on our network,” Gregory said. These attacks are generally blocked through firewalls and various other defense programs in ITS’s arsenal.

“Our people are all busy doing things behind the scene that you never see. So for every one thing that you [do], there’s probably 150 things that [we’ve] done to essentially make the user experience as trouble free as possible,” Gregory said.

ITS urges students to inform them of problems they encounter. The department relies on these reports to get on-call personnel to begin working on resolving technological issues.

While the end of glitches and bad login days seem to be nowhere near extinct in this modern age of computers, students are at least supported by an ITS department and group of students who work hard to advance the technologies of Colgate and make computing easier for all.