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November 12, 2001

PEACH updates e-mail site

By Stephanie Sonnenfeld


Specifying a preferred e-mail address at Emory has just become a little bit easier—for both e-mail users and network administrators.

Launched in October, the updated Preferred E-mail Address Change Handler (PEACH) website, developed by the Information Technology Division (ITD), allows e-mail users to specify their address of choice.

Using PEACH is simple: Users log-on to, enter their network ID and password, specify their preferred e-mail address, and then verify that address. The process will update the e-mail address on University listserv mailing lists and the user’s address in the online directory. PEACH will not affect the e-mail address published in the printed Campus Directory; users must still contact Network Communications to have that information updated.

In lay terms, PEACH allows users to specify an e-mail account other than an Emory account as their official Emory address, including accounts administered by Hotmail, America Online or EarthLink.

“It can be any e-mail address you want—as long as it is valid,” said Barbara Anderson, an ITD technical leader who provided oversight for the PEACH project. “It’s like putting your street address in the Atlanta phone book; it’s the one you want published in the online directory. It’s how you want Emory to reach you via e-mail.”

PEACH was first started in the mid-1990s, when e-mail first became a campuswide means of communication, Anderson said. At that time, users had to call ITD to update their e-mail address, which was done manually by an ITD representative. As e-mail became a more prevalent means of communication in the Emory community— an estimated 30,000 e-mail accounts are currently active at Emory—directing mail to a user’s address of choice became harder to do.

“We were having trouble making changes in a time-efficient manner,” said Linda Erhard, a business analyst in ITD who also worked on the PEACH project. “The web just seemed to be the right way to communicate preferred e-mail changes.”

ITD began working on the PEACH website last summer. The first priority was to create a site in which a user’s identity could be authenticated (i.e., through their network ID and password), something that was PEACH’s goal from its very beginnings, Anderson said. When PEACH was first implemented, lack of network ID authentication and proper web development tools hindered the site.

“Users now can initiate the request, make the actual change and see the change within
24 hours, versus making several phone calls or sending a series of e-mails during an extended amount of time. PEACH is self-service,” Erhard said.

The authentication process implemented for PEACH has laid the groundwork to create Emory-administered websites where people can go and change data about themselves, such as their home addresses, phone numbers, office addresses, titles and eventually their official e-mail address. That plan is part of a larger initiative called Emory Shared Data, a project involving a variety of University offices that hopes to eventually make the exchange of information quicker and easier.

For now, those on the PEACH update team are happy to see the strides they’ve made in facilitating the updating of information simple and easy for the Emory community.

From a technical standpoint, Erhard said she believes PEACH has an infrastructure in place that can be reused for other applications. From the user’s point of view, ITD has streamlined a useful process for the Emory community, she added.

“A web page is usually more than just a page,” Erhard said. “The goal of any web-based application [such as PEACH] is to keep the complexity behind the scenes so that the application is simple to use and performs simply.”


Back to Emory Report November 12, 2001