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Yale Switching To Gmail, Not Without Opposition 439

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-schools-should-not-be-isps dept.
PwnSnake writes "While it makes sense for small (and large) corporations to move to Gmail, something seems amiss when a top private university decides to hand everything over to Google. Although most in that community seem to welcome the change, several organizations on campus have joined forces to call for a transparent process and get students and faculty thinking about the downsides of the switch. The problem is choice (users can already forward mail to Gmail; it doesn't make sense to force that option and not have a backup or opt-out mail server)."
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Yale Switching To Gmail, Not Without Opposition

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  • Having gone there... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @08:57AM (#31126212) Journal

    I was a grad student there, and most of the people I knew hated the Horde webmail interface. I practically never used it, since I've always set up IMAP.

    My current university also outsources most of their student e-mail services to Google... again, I almost always access it through IMAP. The main downside I've run into is that the university version of Gmail doesn't have access to Labs features that you get with regular Gmail.

    • by ircmaxell (1117387) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:11AM (#31126290) Homepage
      My old college didn't even expose imap or pop (Nor could I implement forwarding). You HAD to use their horrid web interface. It led to the accounts never being checked. While there are concerns over gmail, it does open up quite a bit of flexibility.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Enforcer-99 (1407855)
      You are wrong - the University version DOES have Labs - they just need to turn it on. Google Apps for Education allows for centralized control of labs features.
    • Google's IMAP implementation is horrible, to the point of only barely being usable. I get frequent IMAP errors regarding folders not being found, even when the folders are being reported by the server -- and I am not the only one. Google has been aware of these problems for years now and done absolutely nothing about it.

      Of course, my main objective to universities switching to Google has nothing to do with functionality. GMail is proprietary software, and universities should not be locking themselves
      • by mpe (36238)
        Of course, my main objective to universities switching to Google has nothing to do with functionality. GMail is proprietary software, and universities should not be locking themselves into solutions provided by specific corporations. Hey, maybe I am just too much of a free software guy, but if nobody voices the concern...

        Even if they used free software. You'd still be trusting anyone Google trusts with your email.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cawpin (875453)

        Google's IMAP implementation is horrible, to the point of only barely being usable.

        Um, no? I have 3 Gmail accounts all accessed through IMAP and they all work perfectly and always have. Making a blanket statement about an entire implementation is completely groundless. YOU may have problems, and I know it would suck, but GMail works perfectly fine for 99% of people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pawsa (92107)
          Gmail does not implement IMAP standard correctly. I am aware of two currently existing problems (and there were more iirc): ENVELOPE response is occasionally misformed for more complex messages. Gmail sends EXPUNGE unsolicited responses when it is forbidden by the standard. Gmail sends the responses to some queries out of order - this behaviour is formally correct but is not what some IMAP clients expect. Still, many IMAP clients which use IMAP in a POP fashion and never - or rarely - encounter these prob
          • Re:Same but... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cawpin (875453) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:11PM (#31131776)

            Gmail does not implement IMAP standard correctly. ... Gmail sends the responses to some queries out of order - this behaviour is formally correct but is not what some IMAP clients expect.

            So Gmail is correctly implemented but the clients aren't and you blame Gmail?

    • by Albanach (527650) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:35AM (#31126796) Homepage

      I was a grad student there, and most of the people I knew hated the Horde webmail interface. I practically never used it, since I've always set up IMAP.

      Kids these days. When I was at school, everyone used Pine and we were content.

      • by hoggoth (414195) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @11:35AM (#31127204) Journal

        Kids your days...
        When I was at school, everyone used vi /var/spool/mail/$USER

      • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:43PM (#31127786) Journal

        For anyone who prefers their email format in text as opposed to html or rich text, it still isn't bad. :) But I think I'll stick with a GUI.

        What I don't understand is how the article poster could possibly make the statement that Google Mail is good for large corporations. If I were a large (or even small) corporation, I wouldn't want any of my email messages, many of which likely containing proprietary information, being stored on another corporations mail servers. That's not only giving you a fair chance to shoot yourself in the foot, it is like asking for a marksman to shoot you in the foot for you.

        RIM's Blackberry is so popular because RIM can't tell what you are emailing. It doesn't store your email. Your company still uses its own mail servers, and anything that goes through RIM's servers is not staged, and is encrypted so only your company knows what your business is. Fat chance data mining Google will encrypt mail so that they can't tell what it says.

    • Well, _that_ explains a lot. No one trained by using Horde as their primary mail server should be considered trained to run a competent, large scale mail service. It was a poorly integrated mass of difficult to install demoware 5 years ago, and I've seen and heard no evidence to indicate that it has improved.

  • by gravos (912628) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:02AM (#31126236) Homepage
    God, I wish my university would do this. We have 40MB account limits and professors routinely send out 10MB worth of attachments. Sure, you can forward it all to gmail (and who doesn't), but don't forget to delete your mail off the university's shitty server once a week or you'll get everything bounced!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bbqsrc (1441981)
      I don't know how much space my university email account is meant to be able to hold, but I have it forward and delete on arrival of any mail, so no issue for me.

      But, I do feel sorry for the people who still use the interface: it's a freaking Java applet :<
    • The IT dept will have a budget. That budget is set by whoever controls the finances. If the person controlling the finances thinks you are only worth 40Mb of storage, then that's all the IT dept will give you.

      If you want more, then bitch to whomever controls the finances. There is almost certainly no point bitching to IT because they can only go to the finance people and say give us more money. The people controlling the money aren't feeling the pain so why should they spend the money?

      BTW, this isn't just f

    • by mpe (36238)
      We have 40MB account limits and professors routinely send out 10MB worth of attachments.

      Maybe the problem is with those sending the attachments. Especially if they are sending the same thing to multiple people at once...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tkinnun0 (756022)
        Or maybe email should just work like a normal person would expect it to work?
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Jim Hall (2985)

      God, I wish my university would do this. We have 40MB account limits and professors routinely send out 10MB worth of attachments. Sure, you can forward it all to gmail (and who doesn't) [...]

      I thought I'd point out something that most students are unaware of: When you sign up for your own @gmail.com account, you give up ownership of your email. It's in the use agreement.

      This is an important point, because when the university makes an agreement with Google, there's a whole legal process behind it. The university retains the ownership over the email; Google is just the provider. That's how we did it at our university.

      Here's the distinction: Did Google (or Yahoo, or Microsoft, or any other webmail

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by slim (1652)

        When you sign up for your own @gmail.com account, you give up ownership of your email. It's in the use agreement.

        Can you quote the exact part of the TOS / privacy policy that says this?

        The closest I can find is:
        http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS?hl=en [google.com]

        11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

        ... and the GMail privacy policy further limits what they say they'll do with your messages.

  • by fedorfedor (838521) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:05AM (#31126256)
    Whatever they decide to do, some people are going to complain. The gmail-based service lets people use POP and IMAP so they can use a different UI if they want. So you've got real flexibility, and a default UI that (in most people's opinions) doesn't suck. So... what was the problem again?
    • by broken_chaos (1188549) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:21AM (#31126368)

      If you bothered to read the second link (like that'd happen but whatever), it isn't as much a staunch "we never want to use Gmail" as a request for more transparency/information about what the agreements and options being discussed/setup by Yale's IT administration and Google. It includes requests for more information on such things as where the data is going to be stored, why Google is 'generously' providing this service free of charge and without advertisements (i.e., how much privacy/rights do you have with your e-mails), what happens if Google changes their mind down the road and wants to start charging Yale, and a few other similar concerns.

      • by slim (1652) <john@nOspam.hartnup.net> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:26AM (#31126398) Homepage

        It includes requests for more information on such things as where the data is going to be stored, why Google is 'generously' providing this service free of charge and without advertisements (i.e., how much privacy/rights do you have with your e-mails)

        Privacy concerns for Google apps in general are addressed here:
        http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762 [google.com]

        It always amazes me when people talk as if people are Google are casually browsing through your email, gossiping about your personal secrets.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:04AM (#31126620) Journal

          I looked at that FAQ, and it says that Google employees will never have access to your email unless access is explicitly grated by your admin. It also says, in the same answer, that Google employees may delete things which violate their ToS, which seems to directly contradict this (how can they delete things without write access, how can they know it violates the ToS without read access?). The answer about whether they complied with EU data protection laws was a very round-about way of saying 'no'.

          What did I not see on that page:

          • Who is performing third party security audits (no one?).
          • What internal policies and security measures Google has in place to prevent their employees accessing the data.
          • How these policies are enforced.
          • What legal guarantee Google offers of your privacy and what compensation they offer in cases of a breach.

          It always amazes me when people read a puff-piece full of buzzwords and devoid of any content, yet come away completely reassured.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by skelterjohn (1389343)

            I looked at that FAQ, and it says that Google employees will never have access to your email unless access is explicitly grated by your admin. It also says, in the same answer, that Google employees may delete things which violate their ToS, which seems to directly contradict this (how can they delete things without write access, how can they know it violates the ToS without read access?).

            Last I checked, programs were way better at virus scanning than humans.

        • by mpe (36238)
          Privacy concerns for Google apps in general are addressed here: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762 [google.com]

          That's what Google claim is the case. Is there actually an entity of the planet that exclusivly follows their published polices.

          It always amazes me when people talk as if people are Google are casually browsing through your email, gossiping about your personal secrets.

          The kind of people who are interested in finding out secrets are rarely doing so randomly. They are more
      • by slim (1652) <john@nOspam.hartnup.net> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:31AM (#31126418) Homepage

        ... and on "why offer it for free".

        Google's reasons for offering Google Apps for Education as a free service are their own. But we can guess.

        1: Many university students are going to become high fliers in business. Giving them warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Google Apps is building the long term market for Google Apps.

        2: Education is a "good cause". Maybe someone in Google just likes the idea of helping good causes. Or more cynically, it's good PR.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gollito (980620)
          Another reason they offer it free is the same reason Microsoft gives their software away to educational institutions: The student is much more likely to continue to use the product after they graduate.
      • by farble1670 (803356) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:05PM (#31128460)

        maybe they should form a committee to discuss the forming of a committee to discuss how to go about deciding whether to use gmail? that seems to be the way these things work.

  • They Need To (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:08AM (#31126270) Journal

    When I was with their dept of psychiatry at the med school, they had terrible problems with constantly infected and reinfecting machines, both theirs and customers'. They had good admins, but couldn't keep up. With email farmed out, perhaps they can tackle the problem now.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:10AM (#31126280) Homepage

    Harvard, just to spite Yale, has switched its mail system over to Yahoo! Mail. Also, 3 MIT students are currently being investigated for breaking into the accounts of the presidents of both universities and sending out notices to their entire university saying that the cafeteria systems at their universities had recently added a free bar.

  • My university is also switching [open.ac.uk] to not just gmail, but integrating the other Google apps also.
  • Buzz? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Bearhouse (1034238)

    Maybe someone better informed than I could say whether or not if using Gmail corporate services would also expose you to randomly-applied 'great ideas' such as the screwup that is Buzz?
    I would hope not...

    • Re:Buzz? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jim Hall (2985) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:52AM (#31126930) Homepage

      Maybe someone better informed than I could say whether or not if using Gmail corporate services would also expose you to randomly-applied 'great ideas' such as the screwup that is Buzz?

      In a word, No.

      When my university moved to GMail, the central IT folks get to administer the university GMail system. [Disclaimer: I work in our central IT, but am not part of the GMail team, although I am in the same overall unit.] That means the university central IT gets to choose what new add-ons our users get access to. So, central IT gets to be the gatekeeper for new stuff that appears in Labs, or new bolt-ons like Buzz. In our university, I believe we use a pretty vanilla GMail. This is (mainly) to help with support issues, but privacy concerns like Buzz probably play into this too.

      Incidentally, it's the same with corporations that use GMail, IIRC. Except in that case, the corporation is paying $$$ to Google to be hosted on GMail. But the corporate IT staff still manage the featureset for things like Labs and Buzz.

  • by AHuxley (892839)
    Government mail, now with 100% legal links to the NSA.
    You would think Yale having all the Skull and Bones types someone would know about not trusting mail servers.
    After China are the terms "off-site" and Google "maintain it" of any real use to US academia?
    • FireGPG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:23AM (#31126384)

      You don't like your email being read by someone else? Then why are you sending it as a postcard? And if you don't care about that then who cares if Google reads it and sells the information to advertisers?

      FireGPG and others make encrypting webmail easy, and PGP/GPG and SMIME have been integrated into most mail clients for years.

       

      • Re:FireGPG (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:14PM (#31128014) Homepage

        The way I see it, the chief problem with encrypting your email is that it requires that others have the necessary decryptions software installed and are familiar enough with the software to use it.

        I'd encrypt all my email if I could have confidence that the intended recipient could decrypt it transparently. In my opinion, we need better support for encryption in software and better public key infrastructure. What we have now works, but it's ultimately it's a bit ugly and unfriendly when really it needs to be virtually transparent. I wish I were a badass programmer so I could fix this sort of thing.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)
      As to the Skull and Bones thing, I know its not very "geek" to be into the whole fraternity scene, but Skull and Bones is probably just a much less Democratic version of any Greek fraternity, including the one I was in. In those types of organizations, they exist mainly on the basis that you don't keep secrets from your brothers, and I can assume that with a fraternity that boasts Senators, Presidents and CIA directors, not only are they well aware of what goes on with this type of deal, but that there is
    • by slim (1652)

      You think Yale wouldn't give data off their own on-site servers to the NSA, if they came waving court orders?

  • Up in arms? Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ff1324 (783953)

    It's a service. Just like the phone company, janitorial services, accounting, and insurance.

    The students and faculty don't clamor for input and transparency on which payroll company the university uses to issue paychecks and work/study payments, and there's something they use every day. Sounds to me like this is a lesson to be learned for a bunch of college brats who can't adjust to change.

  • You can go to Yale, or you can NOT go to Yale.
  • Horde is garbage (Score:3, Informative)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @09:53AM (#31126542)

    Horde is pure, utter shite, obviously written by weekend PHP developers with short attention spans, and wouldn't know a decently-designed user interface if it jumped up and bit them in the face.

    The university I went to used (and probably still does) use it. It's a pain to use, and a pain to administer.

    What's so hard about writing a decent Web email client anyway?

  • Lots of colleges and universities are switching over to Google. The reasons are pretty straightforward: Google offers more storage space than most higher ed IT departments could reasonably afford and the move relieves them of the need to administer an email server. See this article [networkcomputing.com] for an overview. Even Hope, in Taco's home town, switched over a couple years back and I know they've been pretty happy with it.
    • by wireloose (759042) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @11:56AM (#31127368)

      There are a number of good reasons for *not* hosting your own email.

      • User issues are constant. And that's not just the students, it's faculty and staff, too.
      • Increasing demands for storage drive up costs. As soon as you expand a user's storage space, s/he fills it up and asks for more. Automatic archival systems help, but are also expensive.
      • Email traffic volumes get pretty high. Even if you have local single-instance storage, remote systems aren't smart enough to take advantage of that. For example, an on-campus user sends a 50MB video to a list server at a remote site, rather than sending a link to the video. The remote list server has 30 other subscribers on the same campus. Back comes the same video, in 30 separate emails, through the shared and often already heavily loaded campus Internet trunk(s), to the local email system. Storage jumped from 30Mb in the first user's "sent" store to 1.5GB across multiple inbox stores.
      • Record retention may require backups to be kept for years, depending on state and local statutes and regulations.
      • Most campus mail systems are commercial applications, such as MS Exchange. They are costly, and the license fees for running them are often more costly and grow faster than your storage. Open source is a great alternative, but some administrations aren't too accepting of anything that they can't buy, for various reasons.
      • Backups require additional storage, tape or disk. Tape is sluggish, and a full system backup of a large mail server takes a lot of time. Brick level backups are worse. Restoring individuals' accidentally deleted emails is often time consuming, since they seldom can actually tell you the subject line of the message you're trying to restore for them, into their too-full mailbox. Disk backup is faster, but far more costly than tape.
      • Power and cooling overhead increase with storage, and energy isn't cheap.
      • Downtime is a huge issue. Everyone wants 24x7, 5 9's service, if not better. That means backups are done online, which slows them down more. Incrementals and synthetics become bigger issues for possible emergency restoration plans.
      • Email is a huge issue in disaster recovery, and email restoration is usually a top priority for any sort of disaster, as communications are critical during emergencies. It's time-consuming to build a fresh server farm for email, restore data, and return to "normal" email services.
      • E-discovery is a costly endeavor every time it has to be done. One lawsuit or complaint can result in hundreds of man hours lost to sifting through email stores, archives, backups, and logs.
      • Uninterrupted power means UPS and generator requirements.
      • Data Centers are expensive real estate, and all many other information and technology systems are also putting increasing burdens on them.
      • Costs continue to increase, yet funding is decreasing in most institutions. Students don't want their tuition/fees increased. Taxpayers don't want tax increases. Yet service demands continue to grow.

      None of this precludes the fact that there are compliance and privacy issues surrounding email. FERPA, HIPPA, GLB, SOX, and Privacy Act may all apply. It's not an easy decision. There are at least as many factors supporting retained hosting. Outsourcing student email hosting can make a lot of sense. I don't recommend outsourcing faculty/staff email for an educational institution, but there are certainly a lot of reasons to consider it.

  • short sighted (Score:2, Interesting)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311)
    It is a bad idea to hand over email responsibilities to an external company:
    • A university email is often used as a verification that a person is affiliated with the place. This is useful for example for site licences.
    • Google could change privacy settings in the future. Imagine that external parties could buy lists of "names" or "grades".
    • Once hooked, it is difficult to switch back. Once, the IT culture has been outsourced, also the IT talent has disappeared and higher education becomes dependent
    • * A university email is often used as a verification that a person is affiliated with the place. This is useful for example for site licences.

      All university email addresses through Gmail also have .edu addresses.

      * Google could change privacy settings in the future. Imagine that external parties could buy lists of "names" or "grades".

      As with any contract, if a company decides to change its policies, you can renegotiate or go with another. Other companies (aka Microsoft et al) will have migrati

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:04AM (#31126622)

    I'm an IT manager at a major University.

    okay... so the thing is, everyone loves gmail. They love it because it's a pretty, intuitive interface, they have good spam filtering, it's free, plenty of storage, hugely distributed servers for good and reliable performance, nifty features, lots of happy fun time. Why *wouldn't* you switch your whole IT mail system to gmail?

    You wouldn't do it because google's entire business model is based on profiting from the content of your data. Mining that
    data for targeted advertising (yes, even if they're not displaying ads in your gmail, they are mining your data for useful stuff to sell to advertisers), gleaning useful tidbits about your behavior and buying practices, etc., etc. They *own*
    the content of your email.

    If you are working on potentially profitable research, you'd be insane to collaborate on it through google.

    If you are handling privacy-sensitive data (such as student records), you'd be insane to communicate that data
    through google.

    If you are handling any other sensitive information (like passwords to financial accounts, potentially embarrassing
    internal memos, career- or relationship- destroying office gossip), you'd be insane to communicate it through google.

    GOOGLE READS YOUR EMAIL. When you sign up with google, you AGREE TO LET THEM DO IT FOR FUN AND PROFIT.

    They are providing this service for free -- if something goes wrong and they lose a bunch of your data, they'll have
    a minor public relations black eye and move on. You'll be out a bunch of valuable data. You can't fire anyone,
    you can't take tangible measures to make sure it doesn't happen again (or that it doesn't happen in the first place), etc.

    There are lots of reasons NOT to take your IT mail to google. It's mostly about data security, privacy, and accountability.
    You are surrendering all of that when you go to google. If those things aren't important to you, then by all means, switch to google.

    And I'm not saying this just because I'm not anxious to have my job outsourced. I'm saying it because after 20 years of
    being responsible for this sort of data, giving it to google is one of the worst things you could do with it. It's not all about "Easy interface, low cost", but unfortunately anyone who ISN'T responsible for managing the data only sees those two things.

    Oh, yeah... and universities don't generally prioritize storage/systems/personnel for student email. TFA talks about saving 12 TB of space, which these days I could install new (and reliably) for well under $10k, if someone was willing to spend the money on it.

    If google provided free software to run a webmail system locally, now THAT's something I could get behind. THAT is what
    Universities should be trying to get google to provide. Let them provide the interface, and let your local guys set it up and manage the data, keep the storage servers local.

    YMMV, especially if your local IT guys just suck. :)

    • by slim (1652) <john@nOspam.hartnup.net> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:18AM (#31126716) Homepage

      GOOGLE READS YOUR EMAIL. When you sign up with google, you AGREE TO LET THEM DO IT FOR FUN AND PROFIT.

      For any reasonable definition of "read" this is simply not true.

      They have a privacy policy. http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html [google.com]

      I guess some people are really bothered that a robot picks some keywords out of your mail and updates some stats. I'm not in the least.

    • by tangent3 (449222) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:57PM (#31127890)

      Sounds to me like one BOFH that has been using his spare time reading student emails for juicy stuff is not happy that he no longer gets to read 'private' emails of his users.

      I get the feeling that there is a greater risk of private emails being read by an administrator than by google.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jwhitener (198343)

      I'm a system analyst for a major community college network. Most of what you say is not true. Many of the privacy concerns have been ironed out with other schools, and if they aren't already reflected in Google's policies, schools can choose to negotiate additional things with Google (access to the bulk data, audits of account access, etc..). And being a leader like this, if it ever did get out that Google was reading sensitive research data (or anything for that matter), it would destroy their reputatio

  • Non-unique. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecatedNO@SPAMema.il> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:08AM (#31126652) Journal

    All of the issues they're clamoring over are completely non-unique. The simple fact that Google is giving Yale their Google Mail service for free is an advantage that cannot be glossed over in one sentence (as these authors did) for the following reasons:

    • It reduces their operating costs and overhead tremendously. Reliable e-mail systems can cost tremendous amounts of money on licensing alone; removing that burden liberates a huge chip on their shoulders.
    • It reduces power consumption, thus reducing monthly costs and increasing eco-friendliness. Yale will probably have a local server on-site which handles backups, but switching to GMail nonetheless allows administrators to either turn off a few servers or reuse them for some other purpose.
    • It makes the lives of sysadmins easier. Working with Exchange, Zimbra or whichever email system they currently have on a full-time basis is not easy pickings. Many awkward things can go awry, and a transition to GMail shifts the onus of responsibility on Google's staff, not theirs.

    This doesn't include the fact that no system, regardless of how well it's put together, is immune to the occassional outage. One can argue that administrators don't have much control over fixing an outage on Google's turf, but they have shown consistently that they can get everything back in working order extremely quickly. Plus, being able to manage millions of accounts (which include calendaring and contact storage for almost every account) while retaining extremely reliable levels of uptime is impressive.

    I think the only reason why large-scale corporations haven't considered doing the same is to retain compliance. (Legal would never allow it).

  • We did this (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jim Hall (2985) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @10:41AM (#31126838) Homepage

    I work for a higher-ed institution that's in the Big Ten. We recently provided GMail on campus, to all faculty, students, and staff. It was a remarkably easy transition for us to make. Here's how we did it:

    Opt-in.

    Really, that was it. We said, "Here's the GMail system that we arranged through Google and the University. If you want to move to GMail, please do - here's a link to make that happen. If you prefer to remain on the existing University email system, that's fine, we aren't taking that away and we're still committed in supporting the University system."

    It's worked out well. As of last week, our overall adoption rate is 26% across faculty and staff (I don't have the student numbers) with several colleges and departments already at 100%. Overall, students opted in very quickly. Our outliers have been staff and faculty - this is likely because moving to GMail is a change, and change can be scary. (Note you can use the web interface, or access GMail using POP/IMAP.)

    It's not entirely opt-in, though. Incoming students are not given an option - they'll be issued a University GMail account by default. The goal is that over the next 4 years, we'll gradually have all student accounts move to GMail automatically. (But as I said, students tended to opt-in very quickly.)

    • by Bazman (4849)

      Our University only keeps its general Unix server running because some staff and faculty members still use 'elm' (or maybe 'pine') to read their email.

      I think everyone is off the BSD command line mailer now though.

  • Opt out? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755)

    Opt-out? It's a private email service. You can opt out by not using it. Forward the mail to some other email account.

    That like saying, I want to opt-out of Starbucks coffee.

  • My office supplies me an e-mail account for work. I accept the privacy implications there (i.e. there are none). I also have various personal e-mail accounts. I assume my employer won't have access to them (absent a subpoena), and I take into account whatever privacy concerns might be associated with the service I choose to use.

    Assuming that Yale isn't blocking access for other mail services, I fail to see how this is any different. Use the yale.edu account for school related matters, and get your own acco

  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CyberMatt (18388) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @11:37AM (#31127224) Homepage

    When one of the top public universities already switched?

    Email at UVa: Account Choices [virginia.edu]

    Account choices:

    - Students: Microsoft Live and/or Gmail

    - Alumni: Gmail

    - Faculty/Staff/Special cases: Exchange and/or CMS (former mail system)

    It's probably cheaper to outsource e-mail providers, but UVA still maintains control of the @virginia.edu domain and forwards e-mail to Live or G-mail.

  • easy solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:09PM (#31127510)
    Figure out the "real cost" of maintaining a separate, local mail system in addition to Gmail. Hardware, software, maintenance, and the salaries and benefits of any staff needed just to maintain the local system. Then give people the option of using the local one instead of gmail, and charge them their share of the total cost minus whatever Google is charging per Gmail account. Since most people will go with Gmail, the local accounts will likely end up being absurdly expensive. But if you REALLY want one, its there for you.
  • by farble1670 (803356) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:52PM (#31128354)

    The problem is choice (users can already forward mail to Gmail; it doesn't make sense to force that option and not have a backup or opt-out mail server)."

    the difference is that they won't have to manage / maintain campus mail servers. they won't have to field support calls related to email problems.

  • ...at least for the arts and sciences college. Like a good Slashdotter, I'm in engineering, which hosts their own mail (we even get a proper mailspool on our Unix home-directory). We have Pine or IMAP, or basically whatever we want.

    Meanwhile "they" have Live Hotmail. I feel just terrible for them, and I'm embarrassed we're even doing such a thing.

    In short, Yale - it could be worse.

  • by sexybomber (740588) <boccilino@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 13, 2010 @07:43PM (#31130966)
    SUNY Buffalo did the same thing starting this past August. Oh Gods, it broke EVERYTHING. The Law School in particular sends out torrents of daily emails, all of which go to different people, different classes, &c. When we switched to Gmail, every single one of the recipient lists had to be recreated by hand. It took two months. I, for one, wish Yale the best of luck in dealing with the shitstorm they're about to unleash.

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