Google Apps E-Mail Service Technology Issues
May 13, 2007
Thanks to those four schools who responded to the use (or considered use) of
Google Apps. Here are the responses for everyone's consideration. Happy wind
down (up?) all.
1. We use google docs and spreadsheets at the admin level to collaborate on
such things as the weekly Instruction Council Meeting agenda and other docs
that require collaboration and we really find it useful. We considered
going to google for our email but our tech people are skeptical so are
waiting to make that move.
2. I brought his email/suggestion to my tech committee and they advised
against it primarily due to our existing functionality being the same
and not less cost-effective.
3. We have become the first school to use Google Apps in this region that we
know of and we love it. It is accessible from anywhere in the world, you can
customize the home page, the technicians love the reliability, the spell
checker works great, it keeps the cost of continuous upgrades of server size
off of the school budget and has a great spam filter. I was a little nervous
when we first made the switch but it works for us. The mailbox size for
students and teachers is huge (Over 2000 MB per person) . You can request
from Google Apps that they block advertisement from students on their email
log in page.
One downside I see from the administrative side is not being able to get
into student email accounts easily if you think there is some cyber bullying
going on. I have raised this concern with Google and they are working on the
legality of allowing an overseas administrator to have password codes. If
your school takes it on, I would suggest that the password and user name is
signed off by the students when the AUP form gets passed in to IT
This switch this year has easily saved us plenty of time and money. We are
still working through some issues but this is the first time in 10 years as
an administrator that the staff grumbles about school email systems have
been next to zero. No doubt we will find some problems as we go along but so
far, we are quite happy with this system. It has been a trial for us this
year. For smaller schools with limited budgets and technician time, google
apps works. For large schools, have your technicians experiment with it.
There are downsides. I do worry that Google may commercialize the site with
plenty of advertising in a few years but they have told us they won't. There
are some very large universities switching to Google Apps.
4. At this time, we are using gmail. So mail comes to the IST gmail account
and it is then forwarded to the MS Outline/Exchange program we have been
using. Out IT folks are giving apps a try. Also, we are looking at Open
Source operating systems and programs similar to MS Office.
5. (Offered by Allen Benson in March this year):
We have had many problems with our own internal email server running Novell
Groupwise with some serious interruptions of service over the year, massive
SPAM issues, and a problem that we can't get on site to service the server
should it go down during elections here in Venezuela because we are a voting
center and locked out of school during elections. Thus we investigated
switching to GMAIL for the whole school. The GMAIL for organizations is
free for the moment and the conversion is simple and painless. The best
part may be the enhanced SPAM filtering and search capabilities that come
with GMAIL. We did not have to change our email addresses as GMAIL was
to take our normal email addresses for direct use in their system. We have
been using the service for a couple of weeks now and everyone is very happy
with it. It will also yield significant cost savings in maintenance and
service costs eventually for us.
We are also considering converting our whole school to a combo of Google
Docs and Open Office. Both are free and may save us thousands of dollars in
reduced site license fees from Microsoft. The Google Docs (and Spreadsheet)
are internet based and thus are stored on the web and the user must have
internet access to work on the docs but the docs can be saved in different
formats and thus can be worked on in various ways. The Open Office is a
free version of a full office suite including word processing, spreadsheet,
database, and equation writer. It is downloadable from the web at
www.openoffice.org <http://www.openoffice.org> . This program has most of
the bells and whistles that Microsoft Office offers and most that many of us
need. So we are considering a combo of Google Docs for when we have
internet access and the Open Office to work on docs when we don't. I love
the equation editor on Open Office.