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Cloud Services Thread, Moving to google apps in Technical; Our SMT have decided to move everything to a vle based on google apps & gmail (email, website, intranet, students ...
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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    Moving to google apps

    Our SMT have decided to move everything to a vle based on google apps & gmail (email, website, intranet, students workspaces - the lot!)

    Has anyone gone through this process? I can see the advantages, but having provided email and storage solutions for decades I'm a little wary of all of our eggs in one basket, and that once committed to this vle it would be difficult to move to another, or bring it back in house again if required. Its also devolving the responsibility from our team to the vle support/google which will be interesting to see how it works out!

    I had originally proposed Office 365 (with hybrid email) and a sharepoint based intranet, accessilble externally but the google monster won out in the end! Perhaps we will all be assimilated into google one day, who knows!

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    I haven't been through this process, but am preparing in the next 24 months to do the exact opposite, as the group withdraws from the cloud due to data insecurity and storage outside DPA compliant countries. Would be asking the questions as to how come they're so sure this is safe within EU DPA?

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    We have been using it here for a couple of years with no real problems.
    Have found google support to be very good - they will reply very quickly to support calls and you can phone the support techs in Ireland. They have online tools you can upload logs to to troubleshoot things yourself as well.
    We use active directory sync - not got password sync going yet though.
    Staff can still use outlook if they want using google apps sync tool.
    Collaboration tools are very good though we don't use them as much as we should.
    For a VLE would take a bit of setting up - this company looks quite interesting realsmart: your learning portfolio though pricey will set it all up and incorporate it into a vle.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    The only complaint I have is with the Google Active Directory Sync program. It works, after a fashion. My main gripe is that it's a manual process. Sooner have a timed service. Maybe there's some command line options/settings I've not explored?

    Also, got the password sync going, but it also seems - iffy. Not sure all password changes are being correctly communicated with google. This is a fully automated service though, which is good, and the vast majority of passwords appear to be applying without issue. Did have to upate our AD password rules to match Googles password policies though.

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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    My concerns aren't really relevant - once SMT has seen a) shiny new VLE and b) cost saving of free email then its almost impossible to counter that. Well, here anyway!

    Having said that, I can see the advantages of all this, but I have reservations about cutting exchange out of our organisation.
    @jallsop - what DP concerns did you have to make you want to withdraw? I thought the whole google education thing was neatly tied up for UK data laws? Personally I'd rather we provided our own cloud systems but that costs money and google doesn't.
    Last edited by Sheridan; 7th February 2014 at 12:27 PM.

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    You can do a GADS sync with task scheduler, but I prefer manual as I get a bit of squeaky bum when I hit sync I always verify before hand just to be sure.
    Password sync is easy just need to make sure its on all DCs.
    We mainly use GAPPS for mail, but drive is being used a lot and none of it is really being used properly (You need to get out of the Microsoft mentality when using it)
    There's a few niggles which bug me with it, not being able to expand users in mailing lists - something I get constantly asked about and if a folder is shared with a group a new user in that group doesn't automatically get those files (as per windows)
    I think that can be resolved by using google groups properly, but it's something I've not had the time to look at.
    Admin staff are also still insisting on using outlook to do mail merges which is a pet hate of mine, and accounts use some ancient software that refuses to cooperate with Gmail.
    Overall it was a good move, our exchange server was getting flakier and flakier
    Drive is great for the staff and pupils (no more usb sticks!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    The only complaint I have is with the Google Active Directory Sync program. It works, after a fashion. My main gripe is that it's a manual process. Sooner have a timed service. Maybe there's some command line options/settings I've not explored?
    We run it as a scheduled task - basically via a batch file and point it toward the XML config file :

    C:\Progra~1\Google~1\sync-cmd -a -o -c c:\GoogleApps\ADSync.xml

    We have it configured to run overnight and it emails the results of the run on completion. You can vary the level of detail in the log.

  8. Thanks to pcstru from:

    tmcd35 (7th February 2014)

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    Sheridan's Avatar
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    One concern that has cropped up is how you prevent students from storing 'inappropriate' content in their google drive. Not just dodgy hacked games but photos of other students etc? Obviously now we can control the file types stored and instantly access a students workspace to address any issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheridan View Post
    Has anyone gone through this process?
    In some part! We are currently sticking with internal exchange based mail but rolling out google apps for students and teachers. Currently the message is that it is aimed at servicing the curriculum.

    Google support is quite good. The control panel is IMO a bit clunky. Chromebooks work quite well with it. Password sync works although something has broken ours at the moment.

    Backup is proving to be a bit of an issue. The market is not very mature and suppliers are US based with very limited UK support and re-sale. If someone tells you that Google will save you a bundle of cash, ask to see their figures. Seems to me people are just making stuff up and the claim has no basis in reality.

    I'm very reluctant to put all our eggs in that particular basket, but as a means of delivering curriculum and enabling collaboration and communication, I think it could be quite good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheridan View Post
    One concern that has cropped up is how you prevent students from storing 'inappropriate' content in their google drive. Not just dodgy hacked games but photos of other students etc? Obviously now we can control the file types stored and instantly access a students workspace to address any issues.
    You could change their password and log in. Or you could take over their files to an account set up for the purpose and then delegate them back.
    There is a product hapara which offers supervision features.

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    We are looking at Google too. We would move staff and student mail over to gmail. Students would use google drive but staff would still use onsite file servers for the sensitive stuff. From what I understand you can get google Drive for you desktop https://tools.google.com/dlpage/drive. Not sure if this works using network drives. If it did then you could sync what the users put in the cloud to your local storage for backups. Not sure if that is the way to go but I would be wary of putting all student work in the cloud without having some way to back it up.

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    This is where is worries me - SMT can only see the 'free' and 'collaboration' advantages. I can see other issues and I don't want to start messing around with third party stuff as well. I'm happy that our exchange server has had 99.999% over the last 5 years and I bet gmail will provide that too, but its going to be quite a culture shock!

    And we can't use AD synch'ing as we are using google apps/mail through a vle so we have to use their user import tools.

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    Not sure if this works using network drives.
    The school down the road have all the Gdrives in the users home drives on the server, although I have never got this working at my schools but not spent much time trying.

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    I've only ever seen it on an RM school. RM Set up the Federated Single Sign on. That said If you get the premium version of RM Unify they'll set it all up for you and even give you a simple UI with App style tiles for your google stuff, Google Drive, Gmail, Docs etc, cloud based so the same interface from home too. At around £900 it could be seen as a bit pricey but could save you a lot of leg work and give you Single Sign on for other things too if they are registered with RM Unify. You don't need to be an "RM" school or have anything else they offer. But I'd wager a penny to a pound they'd try. Just keep them away from the SMT.

    There was a thread about it a while back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeekyPete View Post
    I've only ever seen it on an RM school. RM Set up the Federated Single Sign on. That said If you get the premium version of RM Unify they'll set it all up for you and even give you a simple UI with App style tiles for your google stuff, Google Drive, Gmail, Docs etc, cloud based so the same interface from home too. At around £900 it could be seen as a bit pricey but could save you a lot of leg work and give you Single Sign on for other things too if they are registered with RM Unify. You don't need to be an "RM" school or have anything else they offer. But I'd wager a penny to a pound they'd try. Just keep them away from the SMT.

    There was a thread about it a while back.
    This is similar to what I saw at BETT from Realsmart realsmart: your learning portfolio but it was expensive.

  17. Thanks to fiza from:

    GeekyPete (7th February 2014)



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