Specific Questions about MHC's Transition to Google

1.   When will my email be migrated to Google Apps for Education?

The first users to have their email migrate to Google were several small pilot groups of staff were migrated during the months of June and July.  
The next users to have their email migrate to Google were students, who were migrated to Google over the course of several weeks, starting July 27th.
Faculty and staff will have their email migrated to Google in 5 groups over the month of October.

2.   Will our email addresses remain @mtholyoke.edu?

Yes, your Mount Holyoke email address will remain exactly the same as it is now, [username]@mtholyoke.edu.

3.   Will my existing email folders and emails be migrated to Google along with my email account?

Yes, your existing email and folders will be migrated to Google if they are currently stored on MHC's email server, which is the case for most email accounts at Mount Holyoke. If you use email software to store messages on your local computer, we will have to make special arrangements to manually copy your email folders and messages to Google.  If you typically use email software other than Thunderbird or Webmail, such as Outlook or Outlook Express, and are unsure whether your email might be stored on your local hard drive, please contact the Help Desk for assistance at helpdesk@mtholyoke.edu.

4.   What if I already have a personal Gmail address/account?

That's fine. You can easily maintain both an MHC Google Mail account and your personal Gmail account. 
A discussion of strategies for managing multiple Google accounts can be found here:

5.   What will my email quota be on Google Apps for Education (GAE)?
    Each user will be allocated 25 GB of space for email in Google Apps for Education. Currently on our MHC email system, 1 GB of space is allocated to each user for email.

6.   How can I access my email on Google Apps for Education?
    The most common method of accessing Google Apps and Google Mail is through any web browser, using Google's web interface, by logging in with your Mount Holyoke email address and password at:
    This is the preferred and fully supported method of using Google Apps since it provides full access to all Google Apps functionality.
    If while logging into Google for the first time, you see a message that "An update to your account is required", please refer to the Google support pages on "conflicting accounts" or call the Help Desk at 538-2600 before proceeding. If you do not see this message, you are all set.

7.   Can I continue to use Thunderbird or Pine?

With the migration to Google Apps for Education, the Google web interface becomes the supported email standard for Mount Holyoke College. Users who wish to self-support with other email clients -- such as Thunderbird, Outlook, or Mac's Mail -- will find robust support within the Google Settings.

The Helpdesk will provide support in setting up iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) for faculty and staff. Google offers a mail app designed to work specifically with iOS. You might give that a try -- it only allows one Google account per device, but it is very easy to set up and use. Faculty and staff who need help setting up their iOS device should contact the Helpdesk about arranging a time to visit.

PINE requires terminal session access which is not offered by Google.

8.   When will my calendar be migrated from Meeting Maker to Google Calendar?

Meeting Maker will remain the College's official calendar until all users have been migrated to Google in early November.  Once the full migration is completed, Google will become the College's official calendar.  

9.   Will I still be able to use the same password I use for ella and ISIS?  How will I change my password after moving to Google?

Yes your password will still be shared among and kept in sync between Google, ella and ISIS.  

Password changes should be conducted from the MHC Password Profile page, not from the Google Account page.  Any password changes made within Google will simply be overwritten in 5-10 minutes by your old password when the account syncs from MHC to Google.  

10. In addition to email and calendaring, what Google applications will be available to MHC through Google Apps for Education?

Google Apps for Education and our contract with Google encompasses the following Google Apps for Education 'core applications':
        • Google Mail
        • Google Calendar
        • Google Contacts
        • Google Groups
        • Google Sites
        • Google Docs/Drive 
        • Google Talk
        • Google Video

Additional Google Applications, not covered by our current contract, are available to Google Apps @ MHC users.  These apps include:

      • 3D Warehouse
      • Blogger
      • Google Analytics
      • Bookmarks
      • Chrome Sync
      • Code
      • Custom Search
      • Google Desktop
      • Google In Your Language
      • Map Maker
      • Maps
      • News
      • Public Data
      • Reader
      • Squared
      • Translator Toolkit
      • Webmaster Tools
      • Google+
      • iGoogle
      • Picasa
      • Product Search
      • YouTube

    11. Will I still have to change my password every 180 days?
      Yes. The standard policy of requiring password changes every 180 days will remain in place for security reasons.

    General Questions about Google Apps for Education

    12. What advantages are there for MHC in moving to Google Apps for Education for our email and calendaring functions?
        MHC's move to Google Apps for Education will offer:

          • Dramatically increased storage space
          • A suite of tools and functionality that our users demand, with the capacity to collaborate in more efficient and effective ways
          • Improved support for mobile devices
          • Opportunities for innovation and flexibility that are not currently possible with our existing systems
          • Support for a direction many students, faculty, and staff have already chosen
          • Protection of an institutional contract negotiated by the Five College Risk Manager
          • Campuswide calendaring system which integrates with our email system
          • A range of capabilities not possible with existing MHC resources
          • Support for the College’s goals to save, simplify, and redirect by saving on hardware and software expenses, simplifying maintenance and support, and redirecting resources to meet other pressing College priorities.

    13. What about privacy concerns? Will Google be reading our email or mining our data content for their own purposes?

    Mount Holyoke's signed contract with Google specifies that content within the mtholyoke.edu domain on Google Apps for Education's core applications (see list above) remains the sole intellectual property of Mount Holyoke College.  Google does not scan email content for marketing purposes or read our email.  They do maintain standard anti-virus and anti-spam programs that scan emails for potential threats and malware, which work in largely the same fashion as our existing anti-virus scanning programs.

    14. Who owns MHC's data if it is stored on Google servers rather than on our own local servers? How can we trust an outside company with our data?

    Mount Holyoke retains ownership of our own core application data as specified in our contract with Google.  Google is legally bound to abide by this contract and has been abiding by similar contracts with hundreds of other higher education and business institutions, in some cases for more than five years.  While there is always some small risk in giving a third party access to our data, Google has an excellent track record with protecting and securing the data of its contractually bound Google Apps customers.  

    15. How can we be sure Google will not start charging us for this service or suddenly change the rules about our privacy or security?

    We can't be 100% sure this will never happen.  However, Google provides us with tools we can use at any time to migrate our data off of Google apps and on to any other system we like.  We can opt-out of our contract with Google at any time and use these tools to move our email and associated data elsewhere.  As mentioned above, Google thus far has an excellent track record of over five years of maintaining privacy, security and free access for its Google Apps for Education customers.  

    16. If we change our mind about having our email and calendaring on Google, do we have an 'exit strategy'?

    Yes, we can end our contract with Google and migrate to a new service at any time.  

    17. Is there information I should not store in Google Mail or other Google Apps?

    We recommend following normal email security practices.  Email is an inherently insecure way to transport data that is sensitive or private or subject to compliance regulations.  Once email leaves the local network, there is no longer any way that its security can be assured by the sending institution.  Due to this inherently insecure nature of email, it should never be used to send communication, documents or data that contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or other institutionally sensitive data.  Sharing sensitive data should be done in secure shared file spaces such as the Ambr server on the local Mount Holyoke network.  

    Google Apps also provides Google Docs as a secure space to share data or files.  Users who plan to store institutionally sensitive or PII data in Google Docs should work with LITS to ensure best practices are followed so that data is restricted only to authorized users.  In addition, these users should consider using two way authentication options provided by Google so that the sensitive data is secured by more than just the user's password.

    Data stored in Google applications which are not part of the GAE core applications (see lists in question 10, above) are also not covered by our contract with Google and thus special care should be exercised when storing data in these applications.  These applications provide enhanced teaching and learning opportunities to the campus community and so have been enabled for general use, but the data within them is not subject to the same restrictions required within the Google core applications covered by our contract.

    A final concern with storing sensitive data in Google Apps is that Google does not currently guarantee that data stored on its systems is physically located within the United States.  While there have been some indications that a "US only" cloud option may be coming in the future, there is currently no such offering.  As a result, in the event that a researcher at Mount Holyoke is involved in export-controlled research, storing such data on Google Apps could technically constitute a violation of the law.  As a result,  best practice in this area is not to store export-controlled data of any kind on Google.  Local secure file server space can be allocated for this purpose instead of using Google.

    18. Will users be able to access their MHC Google Email accounts from abroad?

    In the vast majority of cases, yes they will.  While some countries such as China have restricted access to portions of Google, they have generally allowed access to Google Mail.  In the event that Google Mail is blocked for students or faculty abroad, Mount Holyoke can offer a VPN (virtual private network) service on request to allow users to create a secure connection from their home country to Mount Holyoke over the Internet, which also permits accessing the mtholyoke.edu Google Apps domain.

    19. What control will MHC have over email accounts on the GAE system?  

    Google provides its Google Apps for Education customers with a suite of administrative tools that allow Mount Holyoke's systems staff to perform many of the same kinds of systems administration tasks they currently perform now on our local email system.  We can provision, and suspend, our own email accounts, reset passwords and have control over what Apps we 'turn on' for our mtholyoke.edu users, as well as a host of related configuration options for each Google App.  

    20. Are Google Apps for Education accessible to users with disabilities?

    Google has made many recent improvements in this area and is committed to a process of continuous improvement, although Google Apps for Education is not yet fully accessible to individuals with some kinds of disabilities. Specifics on the current status of accessibility of Google's products and its adherence to international standards are available on its website:

    and in the ATHEN report on Google Mail and Calendar Accessibility:

    and in the ATHEN report on Google Docs Accessibility:

        The college is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and access for all members of the college community and to compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. As we move into implementation, the college will work with users to assure that their needs are met, much as the University of Michigan is doing:

       19.  What other schools have implemented Google Apps for Education?
    This is a sampling of some other institutions that have already made the move to Google Apps for Education, (links below go to the institution's Google FAQ, Help or Blog page).