Delivering the tools for communication and collaboration
Southern Cross University (SCU) is an Australian public university committed to innovative teaching and research. Its teaching focus is in the traditional areas of Arts, Sciences, Business, and Law but also covers the areas of nursing, education, environment, tourism, and hospitality. In addition, the university has a strong research focus in sciences such as environmental, plant genetics, and geosciences.
SCU’s three main campuses are located at Lismore and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales and also on the Gold Coast, Queensland. It has over 16,000 students and 2,000 staff, including international students and those undertaking distance and online education.
With a large and diverse student and staff population, communication and collaboration are vital components of the learning and teaching experience at SCU. Providing the tools to support, enhance and encourage communication and collaboration is therefore central to the role of the Technology Services division of the university.
Email, in particular, forms an essential part of the education process at SCU. Students use it to communicate with their peers and submit their assignments, while teachers and administration staff use it to distribute information to students across the university’s campuses.
SCU had an ageing and legacy Sun email system that had limited functionality and presented risk to the university in the form of significant cost to upgrade, a lack of skilled resources available to maintain any new infrastructure and an inability to meet the university’s requirements for seamless collaboration. In order to continue to deliver the desired level of service to students and staff, as well as provide the advantages available with other messaging platforms (including seamless collaboration and meeting scheduling), the Technology Services division acknowledged that it needed to update the university’s email system.
Recognising that it would have been very expensive to upgrade its existing messaging platform and that Technology Services would not be able to deliver a new platform with its existing resources (at least not for the same effort), SCU decided to replace its existing email and calendaring system with a Microsoft Office 365TM cloud subscription service. This allowed the university to get the latest in Microsoft technology, without having to take care of it themselves. SCU also decided to standardise its Windows® Desktops to Windows 7®, Office 2010® and Microsoft Outlook®.
The project, championed by SCU’s Executive Team, was underpinned by clearly identified key business drivers. One of the main drivers for moving email to the cloud was service improvement – including functionality, capacity, security, availability and manageability. The focus on delivering the project as a service improvement resulted in enhanced collaboration and productivity value for all students and staff.