Troy IT resolves Office 365 issues; launches new portal and email system

Destiny Hosmer
Staff Writer

After recent disruptions in the Office 365 services, Troy students and faculty are now able to use a full range of Microsoft tools, including the new Troy email system.

In December 2014, Troy University entered into a higher education tenant space license agreement for Office 365, according to Greg Price, the chief technology officer for Troy University’s IT department.

This agreement allowed students free access to Microsoft software like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

However, a few months after the deployment of this service, Troy students began receiving error messages directing them to the IT Department when attempting to create Office 365 accounts.

The error message reading, “Your IT department has turned off signup for Office 365 Education. Contact them to complete signup,” was apparently the result of poor planning and confusion on Microsoft’s end, according to Price.

“A few months after deployment, Microsoft delivered a notice to Troy, indicating that they planned to abandon the free support of the product,” Price said. “We were in the midst of finalizing our full deployment of the Office 365 tenant for all of Troy.”

Troy sought assistance from Microsoft, asking that it continue to offer the free, basic version to students until the student tenant space was launched.

Microsoft refused to accommodate this request and offered an expensive support feature in order to keep the free version.

“The final communication from Microsoft was rather abrupt,” Price said. “They indicated that they would shut down the portal that they launched if we refused to pay fees, fees not referenced in our license agreement.”

When Troy asked that Microsoft follow the license agreement, it closed the portal, according to Price.

Price blames this issue on confusion among Microsoft’s teams and the hurried nature of the agreements.

“Honestly, I think a major disconnect exists among the sales team, marketing team and development team within Microsoft,” he said. “In our conversations with them, we often observed significant confusion among our representatives. Most were unaware of the name and content changes that were occurring with the product offering.”

As of Sept. 25, 2015, students now have full complimentary access to Office 365.

The features in the new system offer students and faculty access to their Troy email, file storage and sharing features, 50 GB of email storage, 1 TB for Office 365 storage and online, desktop, tablets and phone versions of Office including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, under one umbrella of the Office 365 structure.

“The new space will be supported by Troy IT, include more features and serve as a core component to a number of new products that we will reveal in the coming months for students,” Price said.

Although the issue is resolved, students and faculty were directly affected by this seemingly avoidable problem.

“Microsoft’s image was damaged slightly due to the falter and they further imparted poor response by attempting to charge the colleges for the service, despite the terms of the agreement,” Price said. “In all, Microsoft unnecessarily placed a burden on thousands of students nationwide due to poor communications and management within their organization.”

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