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University System of Ohio, Microsoft Establish Education Alliance Agreement Focused on Cloud Computing Approach

Group purchasing lowers costs, encourages more common platform

COLUMBUS, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut today announced at the University System of Ohio Efficiency Council meeting, an agreement between the University System of Ohio's technology infrastructure and operations arm, OARnet, and Microsoft Corporation that will leverage the System's group purchasing power to bring additional messaging solutions to Ohio's higher education and K-12 communities.

The Education Alliance Agreement is a move towards a cloud-based approach to messaging, including purchases of Microsoft's Exchange Online, an email, calendar, contact and task service; the [email protected] collaboration and communications service; Office Web Apps, a lightweight version of the company's Office applications; and Microsoft Consulting Services and Microsoft Premier Support Services through a statewide master services agreement.

"The Education Alliance Agreement provides the University System of Ohio with major cost savings for messaging and collaboration products," said Chancellor Fingerhut. "This agreement advances Ohio's 10-year Strategic Plan for Higher Education by supporting a common technology infrastructure through collaboration and group purchasing, which makes the University System of Ohio more efficient."

The Exchange Online package is based on a cloud-computing model that combines the reach of the Internet with the power of local software applications. By bringing together software and services, the Ohio education community can expand capabilities, choice and flexibility, with the ability to leverage its existing investments with Microsoft. In the near and long term this will allow the state's education institutions to maximize limited resources and redirect strategic funds. As a cloud-computing participant, this will also ensure that Ohio is considered an active participant in "Green IT," a national initiative to reduce IT-related costs, increase productivity and improve performance while minimizing environmental impact.

"Across Ohio and beyond, Education IT leaders are being challenged to reduce their costs and simultaneously improve performance and innovation," said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Microsoft Worldwide Education. "This Education Alliance Agreement expands Ohio institutions' IT flexibility and buying power, and at the same time opens up new avenues of collaboration and efficiencies for the many stakeholders - students, teachers, administrators, faculty and staff -- within the state education community."

Through the Education Alliance Agreement, the Microsoft products will be offered to Ohio's K-12 schools as well as public and private college and universities. These include the following:

Exchange Online: For faculty and staff, OARnet will offer Microsoft's Exchange Online, a comprehensive messaging solution, features of which include:

  • 5-gigabyte (GB) mailbox allocated for each user; mailbox size configurable to 25 GB
  • Shared calendar, contacts, and tasks
  • Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007 and Outlook 2003 connectivity, including Outlook Anywhere
  • Browser-based Outlook Web Access
  • Virus/spam filtering via Microsoft Forefront(TM) Online Security for Exchange
  • 99.9% scheduled uptime with financially backed service level agreements
  • Migration tools to help move current mailbox data into the online environment

[email protected]: For students, alumni, and applicants, OARnet will offer Microsoft's [email protected], which provides hosted email built on Exchange, calendars, online workspaces, mobile alerts, document sharing, instant messaging, blogs, videoconferencing, mobile access and address books. Several Ohio universities already have deployed [email protected], and many others are reviewing the package as well. Depending on the size of the institution, implementation of this package can reduce costs by $100,000 or more. Key features of the product include:


  • 10 GB inbox, 20 MB attachments
  • Optimized Outlook experience
  • Integrated Directory with faculty/staff on Exchange
  • Shared calendar and contacts

Office Live Workspace:

  • Password-protected online storage for 5GB of documents
  • Individual documents can be as large as 25MB
  • Extension of Microsoft Office
  • Collaboration with others, even if they don't have Office

Live Skydrive:

  • Lets students store documents online so they can access them from any computer and share with others
  • 25 GB password-protected online storage
  • Create private, shared, and public folders

Office Web Apps: Office Web Apps will be made available through the Ohio institutions' [email protected] programs for K-20 in 2010. These are lightweight versions of familiar Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) delivered through the browser, allowing faculty, staff and students to access and collaborate on documents from virtually anywhere.

For Ohio institutions seeking additional information on products and purchasing procedures under this agreement, please contact Ann Zimmerman, OARnet client services manager, at [email protected] or (614)292-9022 before June 30, 2010.

About the University System of Ohio

The University System of Ohio is the largest comprehensive public system of higher education in the nation, offering options for every student, from GEDs to Ph.D.'s. Consisting of 14 universities, 24 university branch campuses, 23 community colleges, and over 120 adult education program sites, the University System of Ohio ensures that all Ohioans have access to a high-quality, affordable higher education within 30 miles of their home. For more information, visit www.uso.edu.

About OARnet

The Ohio Academic Resource Network [OARnet] is the technology infrastructure and operations arm of the University System of Ohio. It was established in 1987 by the Ohio Board of Regents to provide access to the resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Today, OARnet provides an integrated technology infrastructure that includes unrivaled intrastate network connectivity and links to regional, national and international networks. OARnet specializes in providing custom solutions, whether spanning the globe by videoconference or conducting groundbreaking network research.

SOURCE University System of Ohio

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