Email Resiliency

Posted on: March 24, 2017

Greetings this week from your interim Chief Information Officer (CIO). What an honor to carry on our tradition of weekly communications. I plan to provide messages each week focusing on Information Technology Services (ITS) projects and services, staff activities, and occasional discussions of technology trends and innovations.

ITS has a long history of delivering high quality services to the UT Austin campus community. It is my goal that we continue to provide these services with a high level of availability and be readily accessible to our students, faculty, researchers, and staff. 

An example of this quality is the Systems team’s work to improve the resiliency of our email service. In parallel with the Office 365 migration project, work is underway to eliminate all on-campus dependencies for both Office 365 and UTmail. When accomplished, this strategy will enable us to keep email flowing even in the event of a campus disaster.

In a larger context, the Austin Exchange Messaging Service (AEMS) will be retired and removed from service, and all campus email will be delivered to cloud-hosted Office 365 and UTmail accounts. Progress has already been achieved. To date, over 22,000 mailboxes have been successfully migrated to Office 365, with less than 100 such mailboxes remaining on campus. The aging, on-premises Cisco email filtering hardware is also set for retirement. On March 16, 2017, Cisco email filtering hardware (aka IronPorts –  email security appliances) was replaced by a cloud-hosted service for email filtering using the same technology, only the delivery mechanism is different. The last step will be an adjustment to email routing. All changes are scheduled to be in place by the end of the spring 2017 semester.

Benefits to campus include:

·         Improving email resilience by eliminating on-campus dependencies as part of ITS’ emerging cloud strategy

·         Retiring legacy services/hardware

·         Increasing capacity/elasticity

·         Allowing for additional capabilities such as URL filtering and content scanning, which will improve the security posture of email services and help better defend against specific types of recent threats to the University, including email phishing and spoofing

  • Reducing cost/capital investment (3-year licensing cost savings are $90,000, and with less hardware to replace)

If you are interested in learning more, technical details of the planned changes were presented at the March 8, 2017 “FYI” session -- Email Resiliency: You Say You Want a (R)evolution. You can view the presentation on the FYI archive page.

Please contact the ITS Email Team at postmaster@utexas.edu with any questions or feedback you have.

These improvements will not only make email service on campus more resilient, but also more secure for everyone on campus!