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Office 365 now online for all students

Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based collaborative suite, is now up and running for all students at Queen’s, and will be available for staff and faculty in the new year.

[Students working on laptops]
All Queen's students now have access to Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based collaborative suite that gives them greater storage capacity and functionality.

Graduate and professional students moved from the university’s on-premise exchange server to Office 365 this fall, and undergraduate students have been using the service since 2013. Alumni also now have access to a Queen’s email account through Office 365.

“It is a higher performance environment than we can provide in house, with greater storage capacity and functionality,” says Bo Wandschneider, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Associate Vice-Principal (Information Technology Services). “We’ve had excellent feedback from students using the system, and making the service available to staff and faculty will enable easier collaboration across the university community, as well as allow IT Services to focus its resources on projects that strategically support Queen’s academic mission.”

Office 365 encompasses email, calendaring and other collaborative services, all of which can be synced across devices such as laptops, tablets, and smart phones. In addition, Queen’s students also receive Office 365 ProPlus, allowing them to use the familiar Office applications, like Word and PowerPoint, on up to five devices.

Over the past several months, Mr. Wandschneider has been consulting across the university about Office 365 and cloud computing. He says that many of the questions he’s received about the service deal with privacy and security.

“Office 365 is a very secure environment and there are actually more risks associated with our current practices than with a move to the cloud,” says Mr. Wandschneider. “Microsoft is able to dedicate significant resources to securing the information stored on its servers and, through the university’s privacy risk assessment and due diligence process, we ensure that the ownership of information is retained and that privacy is embedded into the system.”

Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering), a professor and Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, is already using Office 365 and sees a benefit in the enhanced access it gives him.

“I was recently given the opportunity to move to the cloud as an early adopter of O365. I was finding the on-premise solution somewhat restrictive, given some of my unique needs around remote field work and access,” says Dr. Rowe.  “Office 365 has been a great solution for me, making it easier to manage my work and stay connected, no matter where I am."

More information about the roll out of Office 365 for staff and faulty will become available as the project moves forward. An opt out will be available for any faculty members who do not wish to use the new service.

For more information about Office 365 and cloud computing, visit the website of the CIO, read a Q&A with CIO Bo Wandschneider, FAQs on his blog, or contact him by email