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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 23, 2009

Google to provide mail system for ISU students

by Diana Pounds

Iowa State students will soon get a new e-mail system powered by Google. The new system will be called "CyMail," but will look and feel like Google's Gmail. That should be good news to most students, who have been clamoring for a more versatile university mail system that offers such features as calendars, collaborative document sharing, word processing, spreadsheets and more storage space. Google provides those features and more.

More features, no charge

Many universities have moved to commercial e-mail providers that provide mail and other amenities at no charge, and ISU's Information Technology Services (ITS) officials have been exploring a similar partnership for more than a year. With input from the Government of the Student Body, they settled on Google and recently completed the contract for services.

IT staff will start putting students on CyMail on Aug. 4, said Kent Ziebell, IT systems analyst. The first students on CyMail will be new students who are getting their first Iowa State e-mail accounts.

Ziebell said officials hope to let current students start transitioning to the new system by the beginning of fall semester. For many students, moving from the current WebMail to CyMail will be as easy as changing their passwords, Ziebell said. Students who want to bring some of their old mail into the new system will need to take a few additional steps.

E-mail addresses will stay the same

Student e-mail addresses will not change under CyMail. For example, "" on WebMail will still be '" on CyMail. However, behind the scenes, janedoe will have access to numerous additional Google features and a much larger mailbox -- currently over seven gigabytes vs. WebMail's one gigabyte.

University mail lists, business systems and WebCT will continue to work, Ziebell said. No changes in student addresses will be required.

No CyMail for faculty and staff, yet

Assistant director of ITS Jim Twetten said CyMail will not be available to faculty and staff at present, although IT staff continue to study the possibility. Setting up a Google e-mail partnership involving faculty and staff is complicated because FERPA and export control issues must be resolved, he said. Faculty and staff will continue to utilize their current e-mail products.

Savings from the switch

The impetus for the Google partnership was to provide better mail services to students, but an added bonus will be future budget savings, Twetten said. When current student e-mail infrastructure reaches the end of its life cycle in the next few years, that equipment will not need to be replaced. For more information about the new CyMail system, go to

CyMail logo


ISU students will transition to CyMail this fall. The Google-powered e-mail system offers more versatility and will save money in the long run.