Come spring, Drew, in conjunction with our technology department, will offer the community the opportunity to go back to the large portion of tech users that look to Google as their primary server for e-mailing and other services.
Director of Computing and Network Services Mike Richichi explains that it was time to make this transition for various reasons.“First, many members of the community expressed a desire to have an e-mail system that they were more familiar with,” he explained. “Another consideration was costs,” he continued, “and as a part of the organizational review we recognized the chance to switch to Google as a way to save money, mostly in licensing software like anti-spam software that we no longer need to license with Google.”
On a similar note, Assistant Vice President of Technology Alan Candiotti said that “there are several reasons” why the University plans to make Google the campus’ main server.
One of the primary reasons, as Candiotti explained, is that these services are being provided at “no cost to us,” among others such as being “highly portable,” and that many people are “already using some version of these services.”
Other factors contributing to the change is that Google offers a larger storage quota for e-mail and other files to each user that “we can not offer on our own,” such as the spam filtering function which “annually costs us money to administer.” and that these Google services are recommended by the “organizational review as Candiotti said. Overall, it’s a frugal venture that is perceivably wholly beneficial.
While Candiotti expressed that Google will save the university some money, Richichi disagreed, stated that the switch, the university “does not save significant money on staffing or hardware because the servers that were used for Novell Groupwise are shared with other servers that we’re still going to be running.”
Once the transition happens, Richichi said that “all students will be using Google for their e-mail,” and that “new students may get GroupWise accounts for the time being, but they will also switch over in May. We will probably offer some option for alumni accounts, but we haven’t figured out how that would look just yet.”
In order to officially make the transition happen, Candiotti explained that there were technical issues. “We need to setup the parameters of the new environment and establish an administrative and technical relationship with Google to deal with changes in our user population and other issues that arise with the use of Google apps,” she explained.
Additionally, there are a few migrations needed to fully implement this system, “We have to migrate some of the existing files from our system to Google,” said Candiotti. “We will be posting documentation and offering training workshops to members of our community so that they can learn the features of the new system and how to use them.”
While Richichi’s and Candiotti’s reasons for wanting to initiate the switch have addressed some of the transition’s highpoints, they both agreed the idea that Google is a very popular, widely-used system that will prove beneficial to Drew’s tech life. Many students are already very comfortable with it.
As stated by Richichi, “the biggest advantage of making the switch is that it’s the same for those already have a Gmail account now. Many people in the community are familiar with how Gmail works and will be able to use the features they know and love for their Drew e-mail.”
While in agreement with Richichi on this particular point, Candiotti pointed out that, “one specific factor [that excites him specifically about the change] is the ability for people to share and collaborate on documents in real time.”
In line with this, Richichi explained that in contrast to Novell, Google will allow for the “whole suite of Google services to be available to the campus with support of use for Docs, Drive, Sites, Groups, Google+, etc.” According to Candiotti, “the thing that people will notice first is the fact that their storage quota is 25 gigabytes, many times more than what we offer now.”
“The functionality of the e-mail system itself – GroupWise compared to Gmail – is comparable, but Google Apps offers a much wider range of services than just e-mail,” Candiotti concluded.
In response to the news about the switch becoming news around campus, students appear enthused.
Alyssa Iapicco (’13) an Education Major who also takes classes at St. Elizabeth’s explained that, “St. E’s uses Google, it’s great! I think this is a really great decision for Drew. It’s much more convenient and comfortable to use, especially because many students use it already anyway.”
Similarly, Megan Modic (’14) explained that the use of Google as the primary server is common amongst her friends at other schools and at the college where her Dad is a professor.
She continued, “I will admit, that in my Dad’s experience, his generation struggles to get used to Gmail. I’ve had to run him through a few tutorials, so I can see why Novell might be more simple and easy for people in my Dad’s generation to use. Novell has fewer capabilities, like file storage and messenger, that might make it more appealing for an older generation.”
However, in terms of appealing to and accommodating the college demographic, Modic said she is “All about Google. It’s a much needed shift for Drew.”