Re: Single point of failure
Very true. But the uni's own mail server farm is a single point of failure as well, from the perspective of the users.
So it isn't a downgrade really, but a side-move. You trade one form of "reliability", your own technical expertise to keep the farm up and running 99.999%, or a cloud provider's.
Look, normally I'm against putting way too much hype and belief in the cloud solving your problems, but here it is adding flexibility. A 4-year uni has to deal with a 25% user turnover rate every single year. That requires a significant investment in available user support, security monitoring and server maintenance, never mind the potential bandwidth growth factoring everything from increasing technologies like larger attachments to larger student enrollment.
Planning out an in-house server farm that accounts for all that, plus paying the, say minimum 2 technicians, paid at say £45,000+ each? Now you're talking real money over the life span of the server farm.
People are taking the position that doing the servers in house will be a tremendous benefit to the uni, but will it really, from both a user and economic sense? Farming the project out to Microsoft also means farming a good 80% or more of the end user support problems out to Microsoft as well; that 25% user churn undoubtedly causes many support tickets, and now many of those will become Microsoft's problem, not the uni's.
So unlimited bandwidth and user number growth; less maintenance overhead; less in-house support needed; low to no initial investment; no massive server electric bill; no server room costs or overhead; no continuing upgrade fees...
For static requirements, static loads or at least foreseeable, in-house has benefits. But for a public system where things can change, and change into the unknown, is them choosing cloud really such a massively bad idea?