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Google Apps for Education at Siena College

Siena Community,
I apologize for this very long message, but this is an important and major change to the way we provide IT services to the campus.
You may know that many faculty and students, mostly in the School of Science, have been using Google Apps for Education (email, Google docs, Google sites, etc.) for several years. Last winter a task force of faculty, students, and administrative staff (see the end of this message for a list of members), was assembled to explore the pros and cons of moving the rest of the campus to the Google environment; giving up the current e-communications platform which is Microsoft’s Exchange.
After many weeks of research into the benefits, drawbacks, and cost of such a move, the task force made a recommendation to the President and his Cabinet that it would be to the benefit of the Siena community to move en masse to Google Apps for Education. Cabinet considered the factors and voted this summer to accept the recommendation and authorize ITS to go ahead with migration planning.
Google Apps for Education contains all the basic services provided by Exchange: email; personal, shared, and resource calendars; and personal task lists. Google Apps also gives you document storage, document sharing (including simultaneous editing), personal and group websites, photo and video storage and sharing, and many other features.
One thing to make clear is the difference between Outlook and Exchange. Exchange is the server that stores email, calendar items, and tasks; Outlook is the software that runs on your PC that gives you access to that data. If you love Outlook, you can continue to use Outlook while using Google as the server that stores your data behind the scenes.
ITS is in the process of planning the migration of all Siena community members to Google Apps. Details will follow over the next few weeks but we can tell you a few things right now:
·         All your email including folders, and your calendar data, will be moved from Exchange to Google. You will not have to look in two places to find things.
·         We plan to move all students to Google over the Holiday break (late December).
·         Faculty, Staff, and Administrators will be moved in batches starting in January. We have yet to work out that schedule but you will be informed well in advance.
·         We will help you with special configurations such as delegated calendars, and access from smartphones.
·         Where your storage limits on Exchange were 250MB for students and 400MB for Faculty/Staff; on Google you will have 25GB of available storage for email and an additional 5GB of storage for documents (including websites).  That’s 100 times as much storage for each student’s email!
·         When students graduate they will be able to keep their Siena branded email accounts, indefinitely!
This is an exciting change that offers many advantages over our current e-communications systems, but it IS a change, and as such disruptive. We in ITS will do our best to minimize that disruption and to help you learn to use and enjoy the new system. Among other things Google Apps provides instant messaging and easy video-conferencing among members of the community. As one application, we’ll be able to talk to you directly from our computer to yours to help you with technical problems.
Please stay tuned! We’ll provide more information, with schedules, soon.
Many thanks to the Google Apps Task Force who have all graciously offered to answer questions about the process that led to this decision and the benefits of Google Apps for Education. The Task Force members were:
-          Meg Fryling, Faculty, School of Science
-          Sunita Goel, Faculty, School of Business
-          Mark Jury, Faculty, School of Liberal Arts
-          Kariann Kakeh, Library
-          Aimee LaLiberte, Development and External Affairs
-          Ryan Rose, Office of Institutional Effectiveness
-          Brett Rudloff, Student
-          Sandy Serbalik, Finance and Administration
-          Greg Zampini, Student
 
Mark Berman