Many students might have noticed the new Google email options on the email login page. By the end of the spring semester McDaniel hopes to move the 8500 students, faculty and staff from our current email system, Zimbra to Google.
Currently, our entire email system is held in our very own data center on campus. This means that the software runs on our servers and the emails are all stored on our servers. According to Network Communications Systems Administrator Chris Palsgrove, having 8500 email accounts costs the college a lot of time, money and resources.
“There are per-user licensing fees, the initial cost and upkeep of the server hardware to run the whole email software package, and the cost and upkeep for the incredible amount of electronic storage space we must have to keep the millions of emails that 8500 people accumulate,” said Palsgrove.
That is why the institution was thrilled with the idea to use Google because it is free and will be saving McDaniel a great deal of money. Google does not have any licensing fees, does not cost us to use their server software, and allows each user 7GB of storage space, while Zimbra only accommodates for a tenth of that space.
Although we have only been using Zimbra for three years, “the features and functionality that are offered with Google are far superior,” said Palsgrove. According to Palsgrove the three main components of the Google package are: email, address book and calendar.
Palsgrove also noted that Google adds other applications known as “Google Apps for Education.” Some of these applications include:
Google Docs: allows you to create and share online documents in word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshow documents all on the same web browser interface.
· Google Sites: allows students to quickly create websites that they post content to and share with others. It allows students to collaboratively work together on documents in one place, on one site no matter their geographical location.
· Google Labs: provides the option to alter how your Google interface looks and operates.
· Google Video: allows students to host and share videos so they can internally communicate and collaborate with one another.
· According to Palsgrove, another advantage of moving to Google is that “they can provide continuous service through localized power outages and natural disasters when we might not be able to keep our systems running on campus.” Also Google provides better support for people with smart phones and mobile phones to access their email accounts and calendars from anywhere.
· Palsgrove also said that the change will not be that drastic for majority of the students. The results from a survey last fall found that 50 percent of students already have Gmail accounts and are familiar with the interface.
· Students should look for an invitation from the IT Department in their current McDaniel email accounts to switch over to the new Google system. Email addresses will also remain the same. When you login to your Google account for the first time, do not be alarmed that your old messages or folders that were stored in your Zimbra account are not there. Another link in the email will explain how to get everything imported into your Google account, along with your Zimbra calendars and address book contacts.