Since the mid-1990s PLU has been using this same e-mail platform as the foundation for many of the communication and personal information management services used by PLU students, faculty, and staff. In recent years the age and limits of this system have become increasingly apparent. Last year I&TS began an initiative to identify a new solution that could replace and enhance our current systems. That effort resulted in this recommendation after considering more than a dozen alternatives both in-house and out-sourced.
All students, faculty, and staff of Pacific Lutheran University. This also includes clubs, organizations and departmental e-mail accounts.
Currently alums are allowed full access to their account for six months after graduation, with forwarding service for an additional six months. This policy is not likely to change. Any migration from our current email system to a new system will include migrating all accounts (including alums with full access) as well as accounts with forwarding-only service.
There are several significant differences:
Essentially it is. It allows users, however, to keep their @PLU.edu address as well as utilize the calendar, docs, and other functionality in a manner that integrates with other campus services.
The screens are intuitive and easy to navigate, although there may be some changes in terminology. For instance, the term “folders” in Thunderbird translates to “labels” in Google mail. You can review additional information on the following site:
Google’s up-time is better than ours, but ours will be improving and we will be adding some redundancy to minimize problems associated with down-times.
It's hard to tell but will be at least as good as it is now, if not better. We will be bringing a second Internet connection online which should also help.
Outlook was on our original list but we found it to be short of features compared to Google and other products. It was also cost prohibitive. We would have had to build an Exchange system on campus which was way beyond our budget. We also looked at other products, but those were not high on our list due to shortage of features and/or the costs were prohibitive.
Initially, Google was not the lead option because of our privacy concerns. However, we discovered that we can turn off advertisements and have assurances in our contract that say "each party is going to protect confidential information as if it were its own." The only reason for searching our email would be a legal requirement to do so. That would involve a subpoena and Google would contact PLU prior to any action on their part. We are confident that our privacy concerns have been adequately addressed.
We have an option to turn that off, which we will exercise. Alumni accounts, if we implement those, would have advertising—but that's not part of this proposal. Google will not take our information, scan, it and use it for their marketing. This stipulation is spelled out in the contract with Google.
Because they’re advertising to everyone else. Google began as a project from another university and this is their way of giving back. This contract is for four years and a lot could change, but it’s a much better deal for us even during the four years. We must move away from our current aging system because it is not sustainable.
It will be stored at Google. There is also an offline calendar option that would allow us to have local copies of the calendar on our desktops.
We built our server but pay for PMDF (geek-speak for “Personal Mail Distribution System”).
You can help the transition by cleaning up your email account. Empty the trash, clean up messages in your sent folder, and remove any messages that are of no use to you. During the transition period, if you want to move your mail from local folders so that it is transferred to Google, you’ll probably need some assistance from User Support.
If it’s not on the server, it won’t migrate.
In order for us to migrate safely, we have to point new email delivery to Google and run a backup on old email. Running that backup on all of the inboxes will take at least 47 hours. After the backup, mail will be moved to Google to scan for possible viruses or corrupt files. It could take more than 2 days, but we’re working on minimizing that time-frame. If we decide to have users opt-in, that request starts the transfer of your email.
Messages of a suspicious nature, whether found to be corrupt or contain a virus, will not be moved. These types of messages will stay on our current server for further investigation by the owner of the account with assistance from User Support.
Encryption (protection for the data) is available when you use a client, such as Thunderbird. GMail's web interface doesn't directly support encryption, but there are browser plugin-ins that provide support. We recommend FireGPG (http://getfiregpg.org/ ); it works very well with GMail.
It is not acceptable now to send social security numbers, driver's license information, and credit card numbers through campus email. We strongly discourage sending private information unless it is encrypted (protected). It is not a good practice to send private information through email. Any data is always at risk. We don’t require (but encourage) secure settings on our email system.
No, but if we decided to move away Google will help us migrate the data.
Maybe. PLU blocks 95% of spam that comes into campus, so we already cut out the overwhelming majority of spam that comes to PLU. Email programs typically have a way to 'learn' what spam messages look like. Google's filtering technology seems to be good at ‘learning’ that messages you tag as spam will not be sent to you in the future.
Messages will still be sent from Sakai. There might be future integration possibilities between Sakai and Google calendars.
How it plays with the campus events calendar is not yet known but there are possibilities.
This is not currently part of our plans but could potentially be in the future.
We have a couple of people using Macs who have been testing and have not had any problems.
No, but you can create new rules for Gmail filters.
On an iPhone you can use exchange sync and there is something similar for the Blackberry. If you have a Palm One there are more hoops to jump through. It’s up to you to decide how you want to sync. Google has notifications that pop up. You can turn in SMS notifications but they may not be timely. There are also email notification and multiple notification modes. You wouldn’t have to sync on a device. This may not be reliable, depending on your need and access to signals. The mobile web interface is excellent for looking at events.
Google has varying support for iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm, and other similar devices. Some devices can do full calendar synchronization directly with Google. Others can only access Google data through a mobile friendly web interface. And some require a third party software tool to synchronize data. Synchronization with all of the common devices appears to be technically feasible, but our testing is ongoing and may require purchased software or additional work on behalf of the device owner.
We’re evaluating these features but it looks like we’ll keep our distribution list. Google has groups that we can create but our distribution list system has a mechanism to allow access for designates who can send to the list. Google’s approach is different. We’ll have to determine which approach is more valuable to the campus.
We will be going through our system and taking a look at things like system-wide announcements. We update those lists every day and we have to figure out how that works on Google.
Our current distribution list can handle pretty much unlimited numbers. They are fairly easy to create. You can find an online tutorial available at the bottom of the following page:
Normal email announcements from Sakai will go to student accounts as they do now. You can send mail from Google announcing updates to calendar. Early on, we will not have this type of integration, e.g., update a student's calendar and trigger an automatic mail message to the student. We have some ideas about the potential to blend some of these features together but it won’t happen in the beginning.
Actually, you can sign in to a second account by opening a different browser.
If you’re in email, you can click on documents and it will pop up an extra tab or window. You can then choose to open a Word document, etc. Google does tend to open extra windows but it’s inside the browser.
We’ll probably suggest moving those (in local folders) back to the server for moving to Google. There are some tools to do that but we haven’t yet decided how we’re going to do that. User Support will be figuring out how best to assist people in moving those. If you use the web interface, you’ll probably want to move those messages from local folders. If you continue to use Thunderbird, you may not have a need to do that.
We don't know yet.
You can use Thunderbird to solve that problem or open each account in a different browser.
You can have multiple calendars in Google and share them (or not) differently. You can view other calendars on top of your own calendar and add things depending on the level of sharing others set up. This will be different but it does have cabilities. You could have a private calendar you can turn on/off.
There are some issues, but you can set up resource accounts as we now maintain on Oracle calendar. However, there doesn't seem to be a limit as to how many people can create events.
We don’t know all of the details yet. Events, info, location and some details in the notes should be fine. What might be lost is attendee info (you won’t know who put it on) and you won’t know who will be attending or not. We will encourage people to use the new system on the web. We will probably choose not to move all of the calendar information since getting partial data would be worse than no data.
Yes, you can have multiple calendars per person, e.g., personal, class, etc.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions and answers will be coming soon to this page so look back often. In addition, all of the questions asked at our previously held forums (shown below) can be found on this page.
Open Session 1 – University Center 201, Friday 5/8, 10:00-11:30am
Open Session 2 – University Center 201, Monday 5/11, 10:00-11:30am
Open Session 3 – Library Basement Training Room B, Tuesday 5/12, 12:30-2:00pm
As with any question about e-mail and related services send your question to Information & Technology Services <firstname.lastname@example.org> or contact the Help Desk at 253-535-7525.