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Windows Thread, Anyone using Google Apps? in Technical; As the title says! We've been approached a few times by HODs and SLT about this. Personally I think it ...
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    Anyone using Google Apps?

    As the title says!

    We've been approached a few times by HODs and SLT about this. Personally I think it needs careful consideration using Google Apps, as you need to either a) use it fully or b) don't bother!

    We already have an intranet, a VLE and obviously personal work areas. Adding yet another method of storing data seems to be introducing more scope for confusion.

    But that word 'collaboration' (i.e email and IM) seems to be used to batter everything through at the moment.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    The main issue with Google Apps is the options available to administrators to manage applications/services. Unless Google get this right (even with Google OS) it will never take off. It's fine for individuals who manage their own accounts, but in an Enterprise environment there are little or no options available to manage a group of users to be able to do specific tasks.

    Will Google OS be able to be locked down with a Google OS Server? Who knows, time will tell but this would be a direct challenge to Microsoft.

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    Arcath's Avatar
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    I use google apps for my personal domain and it works very well.

    I wouldnt have said that you really need it if you have your own variations in house e.g. exchange, as you would have to go through the process of exporting your users from AD and importing them to google, also i dont think is supports proper intergration with AD so password changes wont get synced up

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    zag
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    Yeh its no where near ready for the educational environment despite what its flashy website says.

    I think the AD sync tools are very limited or judging from other posts just don't work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenWonder View Post
    We already have an intranet, a VLE and obviously personal work areas. Adding yet another method of storing data seems to be introducing more scope for confusion.
    I would second what Michael and others have said: this isn't ready for prime-time yet, despite I have seen reports of some schools using it. I'm about to move our kids to Google Mail using Google Apps for Education, and they will also have access to calendar. No chat or custom start page, etc, but that might come later.

    The problems setting up email have been legion. There is no way to prevent users changing their settings. They can enable POP3 access ("Sir, all my email's gone!" ie, got downloaded to your home PC when you were p*ssing about with it at home last night.) They can change their avatar, enable web-clips, do daft things with filters and forwarding, add other (non-Gmail, non-school) accounts to their Google Apps account and send as a completely unrelated user on a domain that is under my control, hence probably a legal issue there.

    One of the objectives was to prevent kids emailing anyone except school staff. Even being able to email parents is a problem, and being able to email each other gives too many opportunities for bullying and time-wasting. I've set up a Postfix-based gateway to address these issues, and I'm happy with the results, but I would bet the advanced configuration and programming is not something most people would want to do. The alternative is the paid-for Postini solution which *might* do what we wanted (Postini man wasn't 100% convincing on that point) but would cost us 10k per year.

    You should talk your management through these issues and give examples. I could go into much more detail if you want -- let me know if you do. I'm basically OK with controlling user settings (there are workarounds) and can control the flow of email so it's safe, and Google have promised major enhancements to Google Docs in 2010 which should put it on a footing with MS Office (will believe it when I see it, not before, and at the moment it's still only a half-baked solution IMO). But basically my tack at the moment is to use email and calendar and argue for that as a path to full Google Apps at a later date, probably during 2011 if I get my way about it.

    Incidentally, I'm currently using MS Exchange and wouldn't want to use that for student email. It seems to have a life of its own and I'm fed up dealing with it. Google Mail should be a big improvement over that, at least.

    --
    Simon

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    We use Exchange 2003 here and have done since 2004 and I have to admit its been great. Everyone has a mailbox and all can access this from home.

    Rumblings in the LEA are we will all be using Gmail and google apps as part of the BSF project so i suspect this may have a lot to do with the sudden interest!

    I still think its a bit of a grey area pushing so much towards cloud computing - we're still talking about kids and schools here! They need flexibility but also a dab of control.
    Last edited by GoldenWonder; 25th November 2009 at 09:12 AM.

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    I use is in some of my schools but only in a limited way, we use the calendars linked to our blackberries so they Heads and Office staff can have a shared calendar.

    Our schools are only small so its cheaper (free) compared to something like exchange.

    Works pretty well with that.

    Sunderland Uni have migrated all student and staff email over to it.

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    @all:

    It's a cost saver and that is the main reason why schools managed by the BSF are looking at using it.

    Only one problem I see with this is bandwidth and your ISP, if you lose your connection for whatever reasons then the schools IT is lost.

    Until schools ISPs provide full failover which ours don't then this kind of "let's jump on the bandwagon cos everyone else is" kind of mentality which seems to pour out of senior LA managements every orrifice as they don't really know what they are talking about due to lack of knowledge, then I am afraid it's a non starter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m0nty View Post
    One of the objectives was to prevent kids emailing anyone except school staff. Even being able to email parents is a problem, and being able to email each other gives too many opportunities for bullying and time-wasting. I've set up a Postfix-based gateway to address these issues, and I'm happy with the results, but I would bet the advanced configuration and programming is not something most people would want to do. The alternative is the paid-for Postini solution which *might* do what we wanted (Postini man wasn't 100% convincing on that point) but would cost us 10k per year.
    We got postini filtering for free, although it isn't very flexible and is geared more towards enterprise.

    As I use Google Apps for specific courses, I block email to and from users outside the domain (although I can release individual pieces of mail or add safe addresses as needed) and key word based filtering.

    I'd agree that Google Apps aren't quite ready for primary/secondary age setting for the reasons mentioned earlier in the thread. I'm sure that enterprise users might want some of these restrictions too so they may appear one day.

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    pod
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    We use google spreadsheet forms as online questionnaires to collect data from staff/students. Maybe not the angle you are coming from but we have found it a very useful tool. The only problem is I now have 100s of pages of questionnaire data collected from staff training days

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    We've used it for over a year now, i've been impressed with it although the postini filtering isn't the most appropriate solution that is now free as well. Seems a stable platform and Google Docs had lots of potential although I'm a little underwelmed by it in it's current state. A large part of us having a go with it was just down to cost:

    1. Previous paid web based e-mail service was awful, so anything else will be better
    2. We couldn't afford an exchange server
    3. We don't have capacity to back up an exchange server
    4. We don't have enough IT staff to support and manage another service
    5. Our network infrastructure was questionable at the time of deciding so a cloud service seemed appealing.


    I'm still looking at dual some kind of dual-delivery system for outbound SMTP to catch a copy of everything that goes out as the Postini service for that is a little pricey, although taking their service would work out cheaper than exchange in the long run considering software and hardware upgrades.

    I also still need to setup the LDAP sync or buy something to help with user setup and email group creation (just to make it totally hassle free and automatic), but even doing a CSV import it's incredible low maintenace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ittech View Post

    I think the AD sync tools are very limited or judging from other posts just don't work.
    The sync api is a bit of pain. It's not limited, on the contrary. It's also well documented.
    I managed to 'sync' all my ldap users, unfortunately I didn't read the documentation properly and locked out all my admin accounts - entirely my fault.

    imo the problem with google apps is simply:

    The support is useless I've spent days trying to get hold of someone to no avail. If this was on a live site - I would be in deep sh*t by now.

    The rest of it is fine, SSO (as soon as we get shibbolised....) apps are perfectly functional.
    I would really like to see it working, another server and backup I can offload to someone else

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    The support is useless I've spent days trying to get hold of someone to no avail.
    I take this back. I eventually called the U.S support desk, by entering a different PIN for another site, spoke to a nice chap who reset my accounts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcath View Post
    also i dont think is supports proper intergration with AD so password changes wont get synced up
    This was fixed today.
    Google Apps update alerts: New version of Google Apps Directory Sync tool released

    better option seems to be Single Sign On (through shibboleth/SAML) we're using the moodle integration.

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