Where once there were three, soon there will be one e-mail system that services the university and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and allows its more than 18,000 users to view messages from any remote location by means of the Internet. The Johns Hopkins Enterprise Messaging system, known as JHEM, will replace the JHMI Mail, JHUnix and lesser-used JHUVMS systems, all of which are slated to be relocated to the new system this spring.
The existing systems, and JHEM, are owned and supported by the Enterprise Services Group, a branch of Networking and Telecommunications Services primarily responsible for large-scale computing solutions for the Johns Hopkins Institutions.
Louise Miller-Finn, manager of the Enterprise Services Group and JHEM project manager, says that moving to one system will allow the university to do away with the "outdated" e-mail systems that currently service the Homewood, East Baltimore, Peabody, Eastern and Bayview campuses.
"Each e-mail system has its own set of weaknesses," Miller-Finn says. "JHUnix is a single server, and if it's down, the whole system is down. JHMI Mail is comprised of six servers that provide the same service that one does at JHUnix, but it requires six times as much support and is thus not very cost-effective. JHUVMS, meanwhile, is simply outdated and was slated for retirement anyway."
Miller-Finn says that by doing this upgrade Enterprise Services Group will be able to provide a higher level of customer service.
"It doesn't make sense for us to be supporting three different but very similar mail systems on each campus," Miller-Finn says. "It made a lot of sense to try to consolidate them and capture an economy of scale at the same time."
In addition, Miller-Finn says, the change will allow the university to give users what they want, namely access to their e-mail from off-campus locations.
To date, the hardware for JHEM has been installed and tested. Miller-Finn says that after the system's software has been loaded and configured she anticipates "a couple weeks of solid testing" before users are moved over to the new system.
With JHEM, users can keep existing Hopkins e-mail aliases and can continue using Netscape, Outlook and Eudora to reach their e-mail. However, access to the account will be via the user's Johns Hopkins Enterprise Directory login and password.
JHEM users also will be able to view e-mail by logging onto JHED, whose home page links to a window where the users can view their messages, or can compose new e-mail.
"By allowing users to access e-mail via JHED, they can get to their e-mail [from] wherever they are in the world, given they have access to the Internet," Miller-Finn says. "And they can do so without leaving a footprint on that system they are using."
Along with e-mail, a Web-based calendar/scheduling program also will be available to JHEM users. The program allows the user to create multiple calendars and group them for layered viewing.
Each JHEM user will be allotted 10 megabytes of in-box space. Miller-Finn says that she is urging all those using JHMI Mail, JHUnix and JHUVMS to delete any unnecessary e-mail from their in-boxes to ease the transition to JHEM, which will be conducted in stages.
Those with JHMI Mail accounts will move to JHEM beginning in early March into early April. Faculty, staff and graduate students who use JHUnix or JHUVMS will move beginning in March and into April. Homewood undergraduates will relocate beginning in June.
"We were asked by the deans of the Homewood schools not to migrate undergraduate students midsemester because the disruption of service may affect them," Miller-Finn says. "The student accounts will expire off of JHUnix at the end of the spring semester, and then when the students come back to class, either in the summer or the fall, they will automatically get a new account on the new system."
The tentative schedule has the JHMI Mail services being disabled sometime in April, while JHUnix and JHUVMS will be disabled by August.
"We figure we will pick up the stragglers, those who haven't moved, over the summer. But by September everyone should have been moved over to the new system," Miller-Finn says.
To familiarize those in the Hopkins community with JHEM, demonstrations will be held at the Homewood, East Baltimore and Eastern campuses during February, March and April. Also, hands-on classes for beginning e-mail users will be conducted at East Baltimore and Eastern during the next two months. For a listing of the dates, times and places for each session, go to http://nts.jhmi.edu/es/jhemsite.
A downloadable tutorial will be available on the Web site in late February.
In the coming months, the Enterprise Services Group will be sending e-mail updates on the status of the JHEM migration, which will be conducted by working with offices' and departments' IT support persons. Step-by-step instructions for changing e-mail settings to point to JHEM, activating an account and using JHED to access e-mail will be available at http://nts.jhmi.edu/es/jhemsite.