Once a unit of the university no longer exists, is re-branded, merged or split and wants to use a different email domain, the old email domain begins a process of being wound down and mail sent to it will eventually fail to be delivered.
Some people have argued that the old addresses should be allowed to run indefinteley. Academic staff who have used the same address for many years, have it published in numerous publications and registered with world wide contacts, can feel particularly disadvantaged. However, there are several reasons why we should do this.
- Reputation. It does not look go for the university, if someone is using an address e.g. @radiology.ox.ac.uk when the university no longer has a dept of Radiology. Others could question how good the university was at managing any of its other data.
- There are overheads in maintaining a email domain. By 'law', each domain must have a working postmaster@domain email address - this needs to be checked periodically.
- There can be confusion/complexity when people return to the dept after a gap and only have the new address.
- The MX domain registration has to be maintained and periodically audited. ie adhoc requests from postmaster of the form Is this domain still used?
In the past, when a domain mail address change was an rare event, the addresses were wound down over 2 years. However, because of the ongoing administrative overhead of winding down domains, 12 months is the ideal upper limit. To put this into context, if an individual moves dept or changes their name, their old email address will work for only 2 months. There is lot to be said for make limiting the old address to 2 months once the new address has become the default, even for domain wind downs.