[Athen] Email products

John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program jfoliot at stanford.edu
Thu Feb 7 09:00:55 PST 2008

Gerry Nies wrote:

> Our campus is looking at out-sourcing our student email. So I have a

> couple of questions.


> Has your campus gone to a product like Google apps or something

> equivalent? If you have, what?


> The more important question is are there concerns with accessibility

> of these products?

Last summer an investigation process was undertaken here to evaluate the
next-gen email/calendaring/contacts solution for our University. At that
time, three products were being "presented" and tested: Microsoft's
solution, Google-apps, and Zimbra (recently purchased by Yahoo). While all
three had some issues, the least problematic was the Zimbra solution.

I attended all 3 product presentations as part of the process, and
approached the presenters after each session with business card in hand and
broached the subject of accessibility. Of the 3, I was subsequently
contacted by representatives from Zimbra (who were still independent at the
time) for further discussion regarding some of the issues I had noted.
While easy answers are not always readily available, I was impressed that
Zimbra cared enough to follow up - mind you, they were also the "hungriest",
and having a client such as our University would stand them in good stead,
so they had a vested interest beyond "accessibility" to follow up -
none-the-less their approach and interest in the topic appeared sincere and

I believe that at this time, Zimbra has been chosen as the solution of
choice, although recent external events regarding Yahoo + Microsoft *might*
have an impact here (and I am not privy to the daily decision process
regarding this initiative on campus), so time will tell what ultimately

It is also worth noting that since that time, Google apps have made some
improvement in the accessibility of at least Gmail, although some cynics
suggest that it is still too little too late (but I'm rarely cynical...)

My largest concern with the Microsoft solution was it's dependence on
Internet Explorer for the "richest" user-experience, coupled with the large
Mac user-base on our campus.

Hope this helps.

John Foliot
Academic Technology Consultant
Stanford Online Accessibility Program
Stanford University
Tel: 650-862-4603

More information about the athen-list mailing list