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Migration migraine: Issues with Outlook 365

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Many SLU community members are displeased with the transition to Outlook 365.

Many SLU community members are displeased with the transition to Outlook 365.

Tannock Blair

Tannock Blair

Many SLU community members are displeased with the transition to Outlook 365.

Tannock Blair, Associate News Editor

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It was first announced that SLU would be undergoing an email migration in Newslink’s Monday, May 1 edition. At the time, most students were in the middle of exams and hardly took any notice. SLU’s email system had originally been in collaboration with Google’s Gmail, but this year, that system has moved to Microsoft’s Outlook 365 with a mixed reception.

Less than a month into the migration, many students and faculty are making complaints as to the many inconveniences that have ensued. The Tech Service Room has been busier than ever over the last few weeks with many finding problems from generic accounts to app-integration. Users of the new system have expressed frustration with the inferior user-interface comparative to Gmail. Another common complaint is the automatic sorting that Outlook does for incoming mail. Some Gmail features that users relied on have now become “inadvertently unavailable,” according to an ITS communication email sent out about a week ago. In response to the loss of Gmail’s features, one concerned individual went so far as to say, “this is #notlit.”

In this case, the question becomes: Why was the decision to migrate made in the first place? In one of the early emails, the migration was described as “a result of the need to improve the security of University data.” Some users have taken issue with this reasoning, with many pointing toward last week’s phishing scam–just one of multiple phishing emails and scams since the migration–as evidence that security has not improved.

Tech Services elaborated on the reasoning for the migration with another more specific reason involving the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.
Gmail uses a practice known as “automated processing” which means Google scans Gmail accounts looking for keywords with the intention of targeted advertising. This breach in privacy is especially problematic in relation to HIPAA because certain SLU organizations are handling sensitive health data.
Security and privacy are important and clearly SLU is making it a priority. However, these security precautions (much like the login codes from last year), are infringing on the convenience of those who use it. It appears that it will continue to be a rocky road toward finding a balance between the two.

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Migration migraine: Issues with Outlook 365