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Cloud Services Thread, Google Apps or Office 365 ? Your thoughts and views please? in Technical; I'm currently researching which cloud solution is the best to implement for our Academy. Interested in you comments and views. ...
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    Google Apps or Office 365 ? Your thoughts and views please?

    I'm currently researching which cloud solution is the best to implement for our Academy.

    Interested in you comments and views. Am aware that it is a very important decision as it is likely to shape the techology we use for the coming years.

    Many thanks in advance

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    gshaw's Avatar
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    Depends on what flavour of cloud you prefer...

    - Google... 100% browser based software
    - Microsoft... mix of local and cloud linked through Office

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    DaveP's Avatar
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    We moved over to Academy status a while ago.

    Students are already on Office365 [moved over from RMEasymail about a year ago]

    We are currently planning some major changes to our network [not sure if they will go ahead yet] but if they do it looks likely that we will move staff E-Mail away from Exchange and on to Office365 [separate E-Mail domain from students]

    HTH.

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    We use Google Apps. No complaints, just make sure you sync it up with your AD, unless you enjoy resetting passwords for end on end. Although, I'm assuming academy is the equivalent to an American high school? So that may only be 1,500 users tops. I've got 44,000 users in our Google Apps, so resetting passwords is a ton of joy, until we can get the AD sync fixed.

    Can't speak for Office365. We use Google's e-mail services for our students (rest of staff uses Exchange). No complaints for us. Google's services uptime is pretty much 100% since we've been using it for the past school year. There's basically never an interruption to service. E-mail is always up, etc. Their customer support is top-notch as well and answers the phone in near record time for a tech company.

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    @gpe5732 (that's a snappy handle, btw ) - what do you mean "get the AD ssync fixed"? How broke is it? We're on Google Apps and we should probably sync it, but we're yet to try...

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    They are both free so I would persuade your school to buy a trash domain (or subdomain) and have a play, I have used both and actually have a split setup which allows both google apps and o365 to work on one internet domain.
    A lot depends on what your staff are used too and your internet connection speed as well.
    One of the things I liked about o365 was a split setup with an internal exchange server for staff and offload kids to o365 which means everything is fast for staff internally and works when your internet dies but your able to downscale the hardware required for that exchange setup.

    @gpe5732 thats a lot of mailboxes eep
    Last edited by ZeroHour; 19th June 2012 at 04:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_newton View Post
    @gpe5732 (that's a snappy handle, btw ) - what do you mean "get the AD ssync fixed"? How broke is it? We're on Google Apps and we should probably sync it, but we're yet to try...
    We initially synced our users up with AD, but had to set all of the passwords to a default. Google has released some tools that allow it to sync up with AD and grab the passwords from there, without the need for separate passwords, which would be quite handy.

    It should have still pulled from AD for the new users, but it's stopped even doing that, so I assume it's broken. This was all set up by an outside contractor, due to the amount of users we have, so we're going to have to dig into it and fix it.
    @ZeroHour - definitely a lot of mailboxes. For the students alone it's about 40,000 users in Google Apps Gmail, then we have about 4,500 mailboxes in Exchange 10. Good stuff.

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    ZeroHour, "They are both free". I have been looking into both and can see the free Google offering but can only see various paid versions of O365: Plans & pricing

    Do you (or anyone else) have a link to a free version of O365?

    Thanks

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    teejay's Avatar
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    The free version of Office 365 for education isn't launched yet, due out any time.

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    cactus (22nd June 2012)

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    I currently have Google Apps installed at all my schools but they are primary schools.

    Sites has come in very handy and has replaced our school website / vle, and being able to add notes that work like a forum to documents for change control tracking has been a god send when working with the governors.

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    zag
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    Just thought I would drag this up as it derailed an earlier thread.

    I prefer microsoft 365, due to the sharepoint access, familiar outlook interface. and online office apps being pretty awesome.

    The active directory syncing is(was?) poor compared to google apps but we dont use SSO here so not a problem really.

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    365 uses AD Federation which is just an instalable role on 2003 R2 and above so the syncing should be fine. You have familiarity and linkage with desktop apps aswell, compatibility with existing documents and user behaviour if your site was MS before and the UI is familiar and better IMO. There is a reason Google has been buying up cloud editors as they feel the need to improve in the face of the MS offering.

    They both have their positives and negitives, depending on how much you want to fiddle you could actually use both apart from email which is one or the other. This does split up your docs and features though which can cause more issues.

    You get more room and apps with GAPS but with sharepoint there are huge possibilities with 365 as sharepoint integrates seamelessly with Windows for file shareing and Outlook for email etc. SP also provides an easy framework for extra development and there are lots of templates floating around that can be used. You get the best of both worlds allowing for tight local integration and web based convenience. The limits of the web clients (both sides have limits) evaporate when you are using the local apps and the web based 365 ones won't damage any advanced features you have used in saved docs.

    I hope MS pushes the storage space up a little and am confident they will as unfavorable comparisons keep rolling in on this aspect.

    In the end it is about which one suites the school better but for our users I would not want to chuck out all that knowlege and stacks of documents plus existing setups by binning everything for GAPS. 365 is a much smoother companion/transition for all of our sites than Gaps would have been.

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    zag (5th July 2012)

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    ADFS is a total of 5 roles for complete (redundant) SSO, 2 x ADFS proxy (DMZ), 2 x ADFS and 1 x DirSync server... not a trivial installation but OK

    Google Apps seems to be a "lighter" product to get integrated than 365 but the cost is the reduced compatibility \ integration with Office docs. Some might say this is compensated by the collaboration features in GDocs, which although you can do in 365 I find the Sharepoint interface isn't the friendliest of things to work with (YMMV)

    Google does have some extra hidden gems that can be accessed with the Google account but I'd be a bit wary of long-term planning around them given Google's history of discontinuing services on a whim.

    The other point for me is VLE integration; I want the ability to seamlessly pull documents into the VLE to hand in as assignments etc... can do this with Google right now but MS don't seem to want to get involved here, rather trying to push SharePoint as a VLE (something I'm not keen on in the slightest)

    As it stands we're Microsoft due to the familiarity with Office but on most other levels Google looks easier and more open. Licensing is interesting as well, need commitment on how long the service will stay free now it's added onto your EES agreement; don't want to build on a system that someone can they around 6 months later and start charging for...

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    zag (5th July 2012)

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