New Zotmail System

ZotmailAdministrative Policies and Records, working with OIT, has developed and released a new edition of Zotmail, the campus system for sending email announcements to faculty and staff.

Features

Among the many features of the new Zotmail system are an easy-to-use interface (senders can more easily create and customize messages; everyone else can more easily control which Zotmail messages they receive) and a searchable archive for looking up past Zotmail releases.

Zotmail Lists

All employees are added to the Zotmail system as soon as their payroll records are created and the employee has selected an email service (“delivery point”).  Employees are automatically enrolled in a core set of official communications channels related to their affiliation (e.g., faculty, staff, main campus, School of Medicine), lists for Schools and other campus units, and certain other informative lists including:

  • Staff Assembly
  • UCI Brief
  • UCI in the News
  • UC Irvine Magazine

Employees can then use the Zotmail system to modify the lists they receive messages from.  There are certain lists (emergency communications and mandatory information relating to employment at the university) from which you cannot unsubscribe.

Mailman Lists

Many of the lists that were part of the old Zotmail system are now supported by the Mailman service, which is better suited to special-interest forums such as:

For more information on Zotmail and campus mailing lists, contact oit@uci.edu or call x42222.

OIT Data Center

Data Center

During October, OIT, Facilities Management, and Design and Construction Services completed the process of expanding the OIT Data Center (OITDC) facility in Engineering Gateway.  The OITDC consolidates systems from the Law Building Data Center (LBDC) and saves the campus energy and money.  It also allows the space formerly occupied by the LBDC to be used to meet the needs of the Law School.

Focus has now turned to improving engineering aspects of the data center (power, cooling, and control systems).

OIT is also redesigning housing and planning expanded capacity for the cluster systems hosted in the OITDC (HPC and GreenPlanet).  These projects are expected to continue into 2014.

Kuali Financial System Nears Release

Kuali
UCI’s Kuali Financial System (KFS) team is helping UCI departments prepare for transition to KFS next year.

As noted in an earlier article, the Kuali Financial System (KFS) is new, comprehensive software that integrates UC Irvine’s core financial functions, including general ledger, procurement, budget, disbursing, and travel reimbursement. It will replace UC Irvine’s more than 30-year-old financial system, which is paper-intensive and has become increasingly difficult to support.

In addition to the KFS web site, where the project and its goals are described, OIT has created a Wiki which includes resources to help departments plan for the transition, links to training, and other key information.

Tips for Using Exchange Calendar

Last summer, UCI converted calendaring functionality from Oracle Calendar to Exchange Calendar.  Here are some helpful tips gleaned from the first six months’ use of Exchange Calendar.  If you have questions about how to use your calendar, please send email to oit@uci.edu – your question might help many others at UCI.

When I delete the email inviting me to a meeting, sometimes the meeting disappears from my calendar. Why does this happen?

In Exchange Calendar, calendar events and email messages are closely linked. What you do with your calendar can affect your email and vice-versa.  Your individual experience will vary depending on whether Exchange (as opposed to Enterprise Services) is your email server, and whether you use Outlook or Thunderbird as your email client.

If you delete the meeting invitation email from your Exchange inbox before you have responded to the invitation, Exchange interprets that as declining the meeting.  So, just as when you explicitly decline an invitation, the meeting disappears (making room for future invitations.)

Because of this behavior (declining the meeting deletes it), many people leave a meeting in a “tentative” state so that it remains on the calendar.  If they later find they are able to attend, they can respond at that time.  Meanwhile, they have not committed.

How can I better manage calendar-related email?

Consider creating a folder for archiving meeting-related email.  After you’ve responded to a meeting invitation, you can refile the message to get it out of your inbox, and this technique won’t have an impact on your calendar (whereas deleting the invitation may).  If you find calendar-related messages are cluttering your inbox, you may choose to create a filter in your email client (such as Outlook) to file those messages into a folder for later review.  You can create another folder for archiving as above.

When I accept meetings in Exchange Calendar, it deletes the meeting request in my inbox.  How do I keep the email message?

This is normal behavior for Exchange Calendar, but you can change it with an optional setting in Outlook.  Step by step instructions are available in the Exchange FAQ.

Do you have any pointers on scheduling meetings with other people?

Exchange Calendar includes a tool called the Scheduling Assistant.  It offers a great deal of help in coordinating with other people’s calendars, if you know where to look.  A screenshot showing various items of interest is available in the Exchange FAQ.

For other useful tips on effective use of Exchange calendar, read the Microsoft article “Outlook meeting requests: Essential do’s and don’ts”.

Next Steps with Exchange

Data Center

The transition from Oracle Calendar (OCal) to Exchange calendar took place on August 6th.  Exchange offers the potential for email service that is integrated with calendaring, and OIT is examining options for implementation of Exchange email.

Many faculty and staff currently use OIT Mailbox Services for email, which you may know as imap.uci.edu or webmail.uci.edu, and which you may access using Webmail or Thunderbird. Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Outlook are among the tools commonly used to access Exchange services.

We have developed a process for migrating email from OIT Mailbox Services, and we will be pilot testing the process soon.  Considerable manpower is required for email migration; it could take a year or more to move everyone.  We are assessing costs and alternate strategies.

One possibility for speeding the transition is to allow receiving and sending new email using Exchange, but to defer moving stored email.  Users would continue to access pre-existing mail using Thunderbird or Webmail, or as secondary folders mapped to Outlook.  OIT is conducting a second pilot for this model.

Finally, we are working on a pilot of Office 365 (Exchange in “the cloud”), and reviewing recharge rates for Exchange and related services.

We appreciate your patience while we continue planning efforts.  Please share any thoughts you have on migration options with OIT Director Brian Buckler (bbuckler@uci.edu) or CIO Dana Roode (dana.roode@uci.edu).  Please contact our help-desk (949-824-2222 or oit@uci.edu) for assistance with Exchange.