Faculty and Staff eCommunications and Collaboration Initiative (PDAD&C #81)

From: Cheryl Regehr, Vice-President & Provost
Scott Mabury, Vice-President, University Operations
Date: March 30, 2017
Re: Faculty and Staff eCommunications and Collaboration Initiative (PDAD&C #81)

The University has concluded negotiations with Microsoft Canada and signed a contract to provide the suite of Office 365 eCommunications services to faculty and staff, as well as improved services for students and alumni. More information about the service can be found online.

Benefits to University

Since 2013, the University has engaged in a multi-year initiative to replace U of T’s aging patchwork eCommunications systems for faculty and staff. Our objective has been to provide more modern, secure, stable, and high-quality communication and collaboration services for teaching, learning, research, and professional activities.

As required by the Provost’s Administrative Response to the Faculty and Staff eCommunications Report, the University engaged in a public RFP process, and has negotiated an agreement with Microsoft for services that extend far beyond what U of T could offer on its own, in line with the standard of service that our students have had since 2011. This service meets and exceeds required security and privacy protections, provides for hosting of services at Canadian sites, and does not allow for the use of our data for commercial services.

Features and improvements that the University will obtain through this new service:

  • 50 GB mailbox instead of the current UTORexchange 300 MB quota;
  • 150 MB attachment size instead of the current UTORexchange 50 MB limit;
  • A calendaring system that allows for cross-device synchronization;
  • Video-conferencing and instant messaging with Skype for Business;
  • 1 TB of storage for each user;
  • OneDrive storage which can replace use of existing unauthorized external storage services (e.g., Dropbox, Google Docs, etc… which require users to accept terms of service that can have users giving up significant rights), saving on licensing costs and ensuring that U of T faculty and staff data are stored in an easy to use location with terms of service that protect the rights of users under an agreement that has been closely reviewed by our counsel;
  • OneDrive collaboration services for co-editing and sharing;
  • Online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote that can be installed on up to 5 devices;
  • Document management capabilities using Sharepoint Online.

The contract terms include the following elements, negotiated in favour of the University:

  • Services and data that will be located in Canadian data centres in Toronto and Quebec City;
  • Acknowledgement of the University’s requirements under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA);
  • A commitment to maintain service level agreements and the Online Service Terms from date of contract signing through the duration of the first 3-year term;
  • Confirmation that licensing of Office 365 for Education comes at no cost;
  • Commitment to maintaining the University’s UTORid authentication process;
  • Confirmation that there will be no data mining and no advertising across services;
  • Encryption capability allowing the University to utilize additional encryption keys beyond those included with Office 365;
  • A data deletion clause assuring that upon contract termination the University would be able to extract our data in an agreed upon time, and once removed, these data will be deleted from Microsoft’s data centres.

Updated Privacy Impact Assessment

Following on the Report of the Faculty and Staff Advisory Committee on eCommunications and eCollaboration Services, and the Provost’s Administrative Response, an updated Privacy Impact Assessment was prepared. The PIA concluded that the Office 365 service provides overall a greater level of security and privacy protection than services currently provided internally.

Security Capabilities of Office 365

  • Microsoft Office 365 includes anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware utilities.
  • Microsoft runs global security services to monitor and protect the health of the Office 365 platform. These services run around the clock and around the world, giving us access to Microsoft’s advanced data protection capabilities.
  • Mobile Device Management services are available to apply policies such as enabling locating and remote wiping, and disabling of access to mobile devices (if a device is reported lost or stolen).
  • Data are replicated six times across discrete segments of the data centres.
  • Office 365 applications are hosted and managed by Microsoft, security patches and feature updates occur automatically.
  • Office 365 SecureScore is a new service from Microsoft that analyses current practices and recommends configuration changes that would improve our security profile.


  • Student and alumni email accounts are being prepared for repatriation to the Canadian data centres beginning in late April 2017.
  • Once the migration into the Canadian data centres has been completed, preparations for the migration of faculty and staff email accounts will begin.
  • The anticipated timeline for faculty and staff account migration from UTORexchange to Office 365 will begin with a target pilot testing group in July 2017.
  • Faculty members who wish to opt out of Office 365 and remain on the existing UTORexchange service will have the opportunity to declare their intention during departmental implementation planning.
  • An implementation plan is in development and further details will be available over the coming months.

We would like to thank everyone involved in the consultative processes for their diligent work in identifying the eCommunications and online collaboration needs of our community, analysing options from a variety of perspectives, and participating in the ongoing discussions to improve IT services at the University of Toronto.

For further information about Office 365 for faculty and staff, please contact:

Marden Paul
Director, Planning, Governance, and Assessment
Information Technology Services