The University’s Information Technology Council announced today that it is officially endorsing Google as the University’s next collaborative services provider.

The news comes amid an intensive IT overhaul at the University in which officials are trying to reduce costs by $7 million by 2012. University officials also say they are looking for an additional $15-20 million in IT cost reductions by 2017.

The IT Council’s endorsement will now be forwarded to a group of University executives — Provost Philip Hanlon, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tim Slottow, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Ora Pescovitz and Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest — for review and a final decision.

In a press release issued this morning, Dan Atkins, chair of the IT Council and the University’s associate vice president for Research Cyberinfrastructure, said he was pleased with the work of the IT Council and looked forward to implementing a new collaborative system.

“The IT Council was very impressed with the thoroughness of the Unit IT Steering Committee in formulating its recommendation,” Atkins said. “While we are very excited at the prospects of moving forward with this major enhancement of the U-M collaboration environment, we know there are important challenges — especially in the areas of user support, privacy and security — that we need to plan for carefully.”

In the same release, Lynn Johnson, chair of the Unit IT Steering Committee and an assistant dean at the School of Dentistry, said a new, unified collaboration technology system would help eliminate duplication of services and save the University substantial amounts of money.

“High-quality collaboration is the hallmark of a global research institution like U-M,” Johnson said. “Identifying new collaborative tools for adoption across campus is just the first step in a larger initiative to improve the environment for collaboration in learning, teaching and research.”

Despite the standardization efforts, some units at the University will still be allowed to use other software, like Microsoft Outlook, for e-mail services because of the nature of their business.

For example, the University of Michigan Health System is in the process of implementing Microsoft Outlook to replace the system it currently uses called Groupwise. The transition is set to be completed by mid-2011.

The LSA Student Government voted to endorse Google last month. The 11-0 vote, which had seven abstentions, came after representatives from Google and Microsoft visited campus to pitch their services to students, faculty and staff.

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