Stanford is not the only major research university looking to technology to enhance the quality and reach of their research, as Michigan State University’s (MSU) recently decided to implement a messaging server to empower collaborative research and community outreach projects.

“As a university grows, it must deal with wider communication gaps among staff, especially in a research setting,” said a rep for the University. “MSU recently sought out a solution to help several research teams collaborate…called IceWarp,” a global messaging solutions provider.

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The University’s Department of Entomology first sought out an on-premise eMail server that would allow it to rapidly create mailing lists and listservs, all while being reliable and easy to manage.

“We needed to include outside researchers not connected with the university,” explained Amos Ziegler, Director of the Applied Spatial Ecology and Technical Services (ASETS) Laboratory in the Department of Entomology. “Effective collaboration required the capability to rapidly create mailing lists and listservs.” The ASETS technology team decided to create its own infrastructure, dedicated specifically to its projects. “We needed to have everything under one roof,” said Ziegler.

After ruling out numerous solutions, the University decided to go with IceWarp, which the University describes as “an effective alternative to Microsoft Lync for a geographically dispersed research team.”

“We see growing adoption of IceWarp messaging solutions throughout the higher education market,” said Cliff Novellino, director of North American Sales at IceWarp. “Colleges and universities are always taking steps to optimize their IT infrastructure to free up the funds for research projects. IceWarp makes the most of this trend by replacing several pricey and high-maintenance products with one cost-effective solution.”

“We use the core system for numerous projects,” explained Ziegler. “Most of these involve management of invasive species–forest pests such as gypsy moth and emerald ash borer, for example. We also have citizen scientist projects. All of these are public-facing and data-intensive, and involve data collection through websites and mobile applications; they require dedicated accounts and full web infrastructure.”

Each project the lab manages has a web portal with dedicated messaging resources. Additionally, Ziegler’s team supports several email lists and listservs to connect with the larger research community.

“The biggest benefit is that I am able to keep my IT maintenance cost at a very low level with IceWarp,” noted Ziegler. “It’s [also] very stable, and patches and updates apply with ease. I’m confident that when I upgrade the server, it’s not going to blow up.”

(Next page: Going beyond university walls with research tracking)


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