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SADA Team - Derek-Lin

Big changes for big universities

Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Derek Lin, Senior Project Manager at SADA Systems, a leading cloud computing consulting firm. SADA Systems designs, deploys and delivers innovative IT solutions for a wide variety of organizations, including educational institutions. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

From letters and typewriters to email and the cloud, messaging has evolved to become an essential element of education today. Google Apps is reinventing the ways students and faculty on university campuses nationwide communicate and collaborate. The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Connecticut and the University of California Santa Cruz all made the leap to Google Apps earlier this year, engaging Google Apps Authorized Reseller SADA Systems to assist their transition. While all three universities have roughly the same amount of students, faculty and top-tier rankings, their migrations were unique, much like the institutions themselves.

Provisioning over 60,000 students is no easy feat. In an effort to allow students to prepare their email for the move, UT Austin worked with SADA Systems to help manage the transition by leveraging a custom self-service opt-in solution. Students and alumni have the ability to choose when to migrate their emails and begin using Google Mail at their own pace. The UT Austin and SADA team decided early on that it was important to ease into the transition, in order to diffuse the impact of the migration process and mitigate the volume of  helpdesk calls to the University’s IT department. The transition plan included a two-month account activation period geared towards the future – Longhorn students and alumni can now enjoy free email addresses for life, powered by Google.

The University of Connecticut has a rich academic tradition that includes interest in technological innovation, with a busy student body and faculty ranked amongst top 20 public institutions in the nation. UConn and SADA worked together to provide a streamlined, effective opt-in migration to the Google Apps suite, to ensure easy adoption with the least migration impact possible. The SADA team created a simple website, which students gained access to by authenticating themselves against the University’s NetID (CAS) system. Once in the website, students chose their own passwords for their new Google Apps account, then migrated the data from their former Cyrus email system into their new Google inboxes. The SADA team integrated UConn’s existing mail routing infrastructure to guarantee proper mail delivery for users that had opted in. UConn’s IT help desk happily reported few support tickets or calls regarding the opt-in process. Now UConn students and staff can look towards discovering innovative ways of using the collaborative tools in Google Apps.

The philosophy of UC Santa Cruz is geared towards inspiration, passion and imagination.  UCSC’s student body was already familiar with the Google Apps suite, having used Google Apps since 2009.  Thus, the logical next step for UCSC was to enhance the collaborative benefits of Google Apps by unifying the technology used by students, extending the adoption of the suite to both University faculty and staff . The SADA team assisted with a server-side migration from the Communigate Pro email system, using the IMAP protocol. Passwords did not have to be reset, and faculty and staff were instructed ahead of time to prepare for their new Google mail system. The majority of the data migration took place in advance, and the 5,000+ members of UCSC’s faculty and staff were successfully migrated into Google Apps.  The SADA Team then used Google Forms to recruit early adopters to serve as Google Guides, helping to take the Google Apps suite into the world of limitless possibility envisioned by the University.

Google Apps for Education aims to make the cloud easily and readily accessible to schools who wish to take advantage of new and exciting learning technologies. The demand for larger mailbox sizes, better communication and calendaring, plus the use of collaborative technology is ever-growing — and its up to schools to make a change for the better. UT Austin, UConn and UCSC join more than 15 million other students, faculty and staff who are part of the Google Apps for Education family. We’re thrilled that experienced Google partners like SADA Systems can play a role in making their launch a big success!

To find out more about SADA’s services and other Google partners, visit the Google Apps Marketplace.

Posted by Derek Lin, Senior Project Manager at SADA Systems.

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