BlitzMail replacement delayed

by Ana Bowens | 9/24/09 10:00pm

Although the task force investigating a replacement for BlitzMail had originally planned to implement a pilot version of a new e-mail system this Fall term, the group is now in a "holding pattern," awaiting approval from College President Jim Yong Kim, according to David Gelhar '84, a Dartmouth software engineer and member of the College's Task Force on E-mail and Technology. The task force recommended to the Council on Computing last spring that Google's Gmail replace Blitzmail as the College's e-mail client, rather than Microsoft's Life@edu.

"We were asked to take this time to seriously think about the compatibility of the programs with the Dartmouth campus and the future of the products themselves," said Ellen Waite-Franzen, vice president of information technology and the College's chief information officer. "So that is what I have been doing. Would Google be a good product? We are still deciding, and the administration has yet to release their decision on our recommendation between Microsoft Live@edu and Google apps for the replacement of Blitzmail."

Kim's administration informed the task force and the Council on Computing last July, that despite the recommendation, now was not the right time to begin the integration of any new e-mail system, Waite-Franzen said.

"When the new presidential administration came in during the summer, they asked the task force to step back, reflect and evaluate whether this was the right direction for Dartmouth to take," she said. "I suppose the Kim administration did not want to rush a process that would so largely affect everyone on campus."

Waite-Franzen and Gelhar said that the task force may receive the "go-ahead" from the Kim administration within the next two to three weeks. They said they are unsure, however, if the administration will change its recommendation.

"Until then, we're in a holding pattern," Gelhar said. "Especially us technical people, we can't move forward."

The task force held a BlitzMail information session open to the entire campus last April to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of potential replacements for BlitzMail. Waite-Franzen indicated at the session that the committee would recommend either Gmail or Live@edu by May 2009, and said that all students and faculty would be switched to the new system by the end of 2010.

While some administrative divisions already use Microsoft's program, including the staff in Parkhurst , Waite-Franzen said Google promised the task force that if Gmail is chosen as BlitzMail's replacement, they would be able to integrate Gmail with Microsoft's service.