May 11, 2010
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
I'm writing to update you on some planned changes to the University's calendar and email services. Starting this summer, we will begin migrating these services to a suite of applications run by Google especially for universities and colleges. These applications will be easier to use, cheaper for the University to maintain, and will integrate more easily with Google applications many of you already use in your personal and professional lives. Please note that these changes will take place after the completion of this semester to avoid any issues at this busy time of the year.
While Google Apps includes a number of different applications, the two most significant at this stage are Google Calendar and Gmail.
Starting in June, Google Calendar will replace the Oracle Collaboration Suite Calendar, which is used today by about 500 people on campus--some 200 of them heavy users. Oracle has announced that it soon will stop supporting that product. Google Calendar, which many of you probably use to keep your personal schedules, is also a fully-functional group calendaring system. It provides much greater functionality than the Oracle calendar, without the licensing fees. It supports individual and group scheduling, managing of rooms and other resources, and mobile access.
Gmail will replace the Zimbra service you know as Bmail, which we've used for the last two years. With Gmail, we'll have a system that is fully integrated with Google Calendar, and we'll no longer need to pay service fees to Zimbra. This means, among other things, that you will be able to accept meetings directly from an email invitation, rather than having to switch to the calendar application. We'll do this migration over the summer and fall, and as we did with our migration to Bmail, we will work with each person and with each department to select an appropriate time. It is important for everyone to know that your email address will not change, and you will continue to be able to use your favorite email client, whether it be a web browser or a dedicated email client such as Apple Mail.app or Thunderbird. Moreover, Gmail for higher education does NOT include advertisements. It does provide outstanding security, excellent spam filtering, and greater overall stability--all at no cost.
Finally, our move to Google Apps provides the entire community with free access to Google Docs. Google Docs allows you to create, share, and edit text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. Use of Google Docs is entirely optional. You can continue to use Microsoft Office applications as you currently do. But we know some of you have requested this, and we're happy to make it available starting today.
We've created a website and a blog to provide information and tutorials on all the Google Apps and to allow you to ask questions and to comment on the changes. You can visit the website at www.brandeis.edu/googleapps and visit our blog at blogs.brandeis.edu/googleapps/ to join in the conversation.
Perry O. Hanson III