Thoughts on Technology

It is a reasonable question to wonder why we are transitioning from GroupWise e-mail, calendaring, and contacts to Microsoft’s Exchange platform with Outlook on the desktop. Changes of this sort are especially difficult when the existing product has served us well and is still meeting our daily needs.

GroupWise was the product of choice in 1998 and has served as the city’s primary communication platform since that time. Over the years it has undergone many changes in order to stay competitive in the marketplace and to provide new and improved functionality. However, GroupWise has been more successful at providing good functionality than being successful in the marketplace. Many software companies do not support GroupWise, making it difficult to find experts to provide assistance when needed, and the situation will continue to get worse. Additionally, GroupWise has issues with Blackberries, does not support IPhones or Droids, has limited web access, and does not work well with archiving products.

In contrast, Microsoft Exchange with Outlook is used by over 90% of businesses and is the dominant industry standard. All software companies strive for compatibility and choose to support Exchange first and foremost. Technical assistance and a variety of software options are readily available at affordable rates and Exchange supports the leading smartphone platforms. I.S. staff can be more productive because the e-mail will reside in Microsoft’s data center, which allows staff to focus on other things besides e-mail administration. All of this will cost no more than what we are currently paying for GroupWise, and positions us to receive new features and functionality as soon as they are released by Microsoft.

By this summer we should have the e-mail migration behind us and ready to begin developing new capabilities that are included in our ‘collaboration’ platform. You will be hearing more about Sharepoint and Unified Messaging as ways to share information, present content through the Internet, and expand access through mobile devices. Initially the change effect may seem like just another e-mail system, but I assure you that it will lead to new capabilities that will enable greater productivity and improved services to the public.

Please continue visiting our web site and explore the range of service available to you. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Send me an e-mail at: dennisn@cityofws.org.

Dennis Newman 

Chief Information Officer

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