On Sunday, July 15, students, faculty and staff will be able to switch their email from the WebMail system to Google Apps for Education.
Google will provide students with a Gmail-based client system, as well as Google Docs and Google Calendar.
“With Google Apps for Education, we hope to improve the flexibility of electronic communications, while increasing the ability for faculty, staff and students to collaborate with one another at Virginia Tech,” said Michael Daugherty, executive director for network infrastructure and services.
The service will also provide users up to 25GB of data storage, so emails will not expire, as they did after 30 days in the WebMail system.
Another benefit of Google is its cost: Google offers the service for free. WebMail, which was custom built in-house, was also a “free” service, but Tech spent $100,000 in maintenance for servers and scanners.
The decision to switch to Google is a culmination of a year-long search and decision process. But, alumni have been using a Google mail system for two years.
“It's your content, not ours. Your Apps content belongs to your school, or individual users at your school. Not Google. We don't look at your content. Google employees will only access content that you store on Apps when an administrator from your domain grants Google employees explicit permission to do so for troubleshooting. We don't share your content. Google does not share personal information with advertisers or other 3rd parties without your consent,” the policy says.
Basically, Google Apps for Education will provide the Tech community with Gmail but without the advertisements and data mining.
Overall, students at Northwestern University are satisfied with their switch.
“Students are thrilled, and we feel comfortable that security and privacy issues have been met,” said Wendy Woodward, director of Technology Support Services.
Students, faculty and staff will have to manually switch their email services by logging into my.vt.edu. A detailed list of instructions can be found at http://answers.vt.edu/kb/entry/3531/.