17 Feb 2010

Google Taking Over Yale’s Email System

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The Oldest College Daily reports:

Information Technology Services administrators plan to join with Google Apps for Education to bring students, faculty and employees the Gmail e-mail service by the end of this month, said an undergraduate member of the Student Technology Collaborative who asked to remain anonymous because of ITS policy. The service, tentatively called “Bulldogs,” will also offer users a suite of tools for communication and collaboration — including Google Calendar, Google Talk and Google Docs. The new interface will look like the standard Gmail layout, but without advertisements, the student said.

The Gmail-based service will gradually replace the University’s current e-mail client, Horde, the student said. The incoming class of 2014 will be the first to go directly to the new Google system, and current freshmen and sophomores will have to make the switch. Upperclassmen will have the option of keeping Horde, but the University plans to phase out Horde by spring of next year, the student said.

Planning for “Bulldogs” did not include computer science faculty, computer science professor Michael Fischer said, adding that he and his colleagues have not yet discussed the transition with ITS administrators.

“It’s a complicated issue, and I’ve just learned about the plans for the switch myself,” Fischer said. “They’re certainly not finalized yet, and we’re going to be holding discussions over the next few days to work things out.”

The transition to Google Apps will also give users more storage capacity — 7.4 gigabytes — than the two gigabytes that the University’s Pantheon data storage system currently offers, the student said. Students and faculty will be able to upload any file smaller than one gigabyte to the Gmail server and share it with other users. With Pantheon, students can upload files of no more than 200 megabytes, or one-fifth of a gigabyte.

Another student tech, who also asked to remain anonymous, said switching data to Google Apps would save Yale 12 gigabytes of on-site storage per student, totalling tens of thousands of gigabytes’ worth of data.

“Now [Yale] can host it all off-site and allow Google to maintain it for them,” the second student said in an e-mail. “The extra space can be reallocated or shut down to save money.”

Yale’s in-house disc space will then be given to only faculty or graduate students who need large amounts of data storage for academic purposes, the first student said.

Another factor in the decision to make the switch, the student said, was Gmail’s user-friendly interface.

“Since settings for ‘Bulldogs’ will be identical to Gmail settings, e-mail forwarding and the use of e-mail clients (such as Thunderbird or Outlook) will be easy,” the second student said in an e-mail.

I’m so old that I can remember the days when IT at Yale consisted of playing Star Trek and Adventure on a PDP-10.


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