Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to count messages in Gmail:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Check the Status of Google Apps

(Quicky-update, new screenshot.  The Apps Status Dashboard recently changed, but is still at the same link.)

If you are the one responsible for administering your Google Apps domain, make sure you know about the Google Apps Status Dashboard:

It gives a one-stop-view to see what Google Apps are up (green=yah!) or down (red=boo).  Click on any of the little status dots icons (wrench, check-mark, "i" button, red-x) to get more info about the current status of an issue.

At the bottom of the screen you can also subscribe to this page as an RSS feed.  Very useful!

Transfer Google Docs Ownership

When a member of your Google Apps Domain leaves and needs to have their Google Docs transferred, it is easy to reassign ownership of their docs (but you have to be the Google domain Admin or have admin-equivalent rights):

1. Log into the control panel and select the Advanced Tools tab

2. Navigate to near the end of the Advanced Options and add the From: and To: addresses and press the "Transfer Documents" button:

The "From:" user still has view and edit access but is now no longer the owner. Done!

GMail Maximum Label Length Limits

Here is something that is a bit lost in the noise of teh Internets: Maximum Label length for Google Mail Folder Labels. Before April, the limit was 40 characters. It is now 255 characters:


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Google Groups Interface Updates

Google Groups has recently upgraded the interface:

  • Support for More Languages
  • Better Spam Blocking
  • Topic Starring

Will dive into this some more very soon!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reflections on Moving from Groupwise to Google Apps

Reflections on Migrating to Google Apps (7 months later)

In March, 2010, we (the Technology Department of Maine Township High School District 207) migrated 1000+ staff members from Groupwise 7 to Google Apps for Education.  We migrated every staff account mailbox (total size of mailboxes were around 1TB), calendar and contact list.  In 10 days we had migrated 96% of the mail portion of the accounts, with the final 4% wrapped up a week later.  Our migration website (which was updated and managed during the entire process) is here:

Now I want to analyze, 7 months later, where we stand with Google Apps.

Our original goals of the project included:  reduction of cost for hardware and software licensing; less downtime for maintenance and upgrades; more flexibility in platform selection, especially mobile device access.

Reduction of cost for hardware and software licensing:
We have not purchased any hardware in the last 6 months for Messaging or Collaboration tools, these needs were all met by Google Apps. While we did not pay for the core Google Apps products (including Google Message Security (formerly Postini), we did elect to pay for the Google Message Discovery (at the Education rate), which was a school board-directed requirement for staff email. Because of current staff levels and the compressed time-frame for execution of the project, we hired a 3rd Party consultant to set up Single Sign On and LDAP Directory sync.  This was also an extra cost. 
Less Downtime for Maintenance and Upgrades:
There has been very little downtime of Google Apps, the downtime is usually caused by typical internal network disruptions.  In these cases, users are still able to access their Google Apps through their mobile devices. Upgrades for Google Apps have been seamless, we typically allow access to all Google Apps, including the Labs for all staff members.  Even the Labs features have been very stable. 

Flexibility in Platform selection
We have been able to offer the ability for staff to enjoy the same level of connectivity and at home or on their own personal mobile device as they have within the District. We have been able to decrease our need to support multiple devices and platforms as Google Apps is very easy to access from these devices; often there is easy-to-use documentation that the end user can self-service their device. 

And finally, here are some key points and observations:

What we have learned since the migration:
Mobile devices are much more heavily used for accessing Documents and Mail Forms and spreadsheets are more more heavily used for creating easy-to-use surveys with the data getting dumped directly into a useful spreadsheet Collaboration has increased greatly not only between staff members, but between Teachers and Students Staff members have learned to be more flexible (sometimes against their will) with changes (usually additions) in the Google Apps feature set.  That being said, many staff have started to use the Labs features and have heavily customized their Google interfaces. 

What I wish I would have known before the project:
Google Apps, using the https protocol, created an extra load on our content filter, this caused a few weeks of poor Google Apps (and the rest of the Internet) slowness Even though we planned for an increase in bandwidth usage as we encouraged staff members to leave Google Mail open on their desktop, nailing the bandwidth target has proved challenging How 3rd party Google Marketplace Apps can make management of the Google domain run more smoothly How we would need to fine tune our Postini spam filters to allow proper mail flow between our staff and student domains, as well as allowing internal servers to send mail out to the Google accounts (like our Helpdesk or Emergency Alert systems) 

Overall, our District had a very smooth transition to Google Apps and we are now beginning to see some true, quantifiable returns on our decision.  Our future plans include a pilot project to move more data storage over to the Google Apps cloud, and to enable domain syncing for our student domains and upgrades to our management packages.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Beginner's Tutorial to Gmail

I just finished a quick, easy-to-follow guide to setting up your first personal Gmail account.  Check it out here!