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Good points Vince. I would imagine that a fee applied to this service would still be cheaper than buying a server on a decent replacement cycle, power to run it 24/7, email licenses, filtering / scanning sets, backup, probably a few other costs depending on how you license OS stuff, and that little management time piece. I remember debating with someone moons ago that even salaried employees time costs money. All are eval considerations that each institution endures on, hopefully, a regular basis as things change. 

It is very possible Google may charge for it eventually, but I'd doubt such costs will be prohibitive based on their previous business models. I could be wrong. Even if it did turn out to be cost prohibitive though, I've often wondered what a quick change plan would be for a school or district if Novell went under, or the new and improved 'educational licensing options' from Microsoft ended up meaning paying twice the cost (wait, I think that's happened a few times). I have fond memories of all the 'FrontPage is included in this version but not in the next' licensing junk. Microsoft licensing changes sure did generate an awful lot of Open Office shifts. End of life support on win98 ? If the cost was prohibitive, in any traditional model that is used currently on commercial products, it would warrant a a move in another direction. Of course, commerical products you own and nobody can shut them off on a web site - at least until you need to get support that is. We've all been in a position in IT management where we've 'had to upgrade.' There are probably Netware 4 servers still serving up email out there. Whoo. Fond memories of Dave Cozzens Netware 3 server plugging along for 15 years or so. If we establish an 'VT Educational Technology Hall of Fame' someday my vote is for that server to be the first inductee. I would imagine partial payments are an option for a service, as are ramp in times for changes just like most every other licensing change out there. 

Hey, Gmail is still listed as beta ! Unsure how many years they've been running without looking it up.

If the 'beta' program went on and saved you, say, 2-20k over a few years ? If you could redistribute tech tinkering and management time into direct classroom support / mentoring ? Could it improve the distribution of school information and similar services to the community via (distributed) calendaring options ? Could such a move increase kids skill with modern technologies that you couldn't develop in house through traditional support or financial means ? Certainly changes leading to the refit of some tired AUPs would be a good thing. Lots of web 2.0 - ish (that might generate some chat) technologies in there that could open some very interesting doors. Grasping changes and opportunities is a factor in cost analysis after all. Such an experiment might lead to increased usage and efficiency that would warrant not going back to previous models. Right up there with that ol' scary stuff like firing up dial up connection to test out that www fad, installing a firewall, conjuring our original email systems to life, offering student email (!), or like tossing all our trade nifty trade secrets to a listserv thingy was so many years ago. Hybrid cars ? Ablation ?

If some school dives in and it saves money, may'be we can work out a percentage deal. I've got some house upgrades I've been thinking about and my truck needs a new muffler (2nd one in 12 years). Hey, may'be we can add Google Adsense to the listserv via distributed email and use the revenue for pizza meetings ! Now that'd be innovative.

Happy hunting. Adam


-----Original Message-----
From: School Information Technology Discussion on behalf of Vince Rossano
Sent: Tue 10/3/2006 7:17 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Google Apps for Ed
 
I checked this service out - at least in a cursory fashion - and it seems to have (or will have) some attractive features.  And the idea of being rid of email administration is always appealing.   However, though I didn't go far enough to experience the "look and feel" of the apps,  I did go far enough to see that the "FREE!" is not forever.  Though they state they will continue the free service indefinitely to those users created during the beta period  - "[p]rovided that Google continues to offer [the service]", after that beta period ends (and they decide when it ends), the service will presumably become fee-based.  
 
So what happens if you get your school all set up with this service and then, a few months later, they let you know that the beta period is ending and there will be a fee for any new users - a more substantial fee than you anticipated?   Perhaps it will be substantial enough to make this service, in a couple of years, much more expensive than your previous system.  What if your budget can't handle it?  Or what happens if they just discontinue the program?  In either case you would be spending a whole lot of time re-establishing your in-house system, and your users would be experiencing a whole lot of aggravation.  After getting used to the Google program, they would have to re-learn the old one.
 
Still, it seems worth looking into and could prove to be a godsend, especially for small schools with one techie doing everything.  
 
If anyone jumps on, please give us a report.
 
-Vince
 
P.S.: Here is the "No Fees" section from the Google Apps "Terms of Service" page:
 
No Fees.  Provided that Google continues to offer Google Apps for Your Domain to Customer, Google will continue to provide a version of Google Apps for Your Domain (with substantially the same services as those provided as of the Effective Date) free of charge to Customer; provided that such commitment (i) applies only to End User Accounts created during the period when the Google Hosted Services are considered a beta service (the "Beta Period") by Google (such Beta Period determination at Google's sole discretion) and (ii) may not apply to new opt-in services added by Google to the Google Apps for Your Domain in the future. For sake of clarity, Google reserves the right to offer a premium version of Google Apps for Your Domain for a fee.


>>> [log in to unmask] 10/3/2006 3:42 PM >>>
Glancing through some discussions on the list on email packages and I flashed back a few years ago to a conference where we chatting about virus scanning, the dawn of spam filtering and all that backup space. I remember one fellow raised his hand and said he had 15 kids in a school and they all had accounts (email and file storage) on a commercial service and he had zero headaches. The room went silent and more than one person was glassy eyed ! Great fun. Couldn't install an email server, much less file storage, backups, and maintain it for less - especially since he had no time to manage it. Here's one along those lines:

https://www.google.com/a/edu/ 

I've been looking at this service for a while and setup a few small businesses ( https://www.google.com/a) to use it this summer. Stellar stuff.

Basically, Google offers to host email and related services - under your domain name. No kidding. No servers required, no nothing, except an internet connection of course and a well written application for the service. They handle spam, virus scanning, 2 gigs of space per user, backups, built in chat, an an admin console to run it (import csv files for mass creation etc), web client (and supporting multiple browsers), pop integration to other clients, all via tons of help files. FREE !

Add in the calendar with syndication options to create or view your or multiple other calendars via RSS, ical, or web: creates interesting options for clubs, athletics, drama etc to create their own calendars (gasp * distributed web management) and offer them to the community by subscription or viewing lists on the school site .

Toss in Google pages, desktop (aggregator), integration to blogger.com, web based spreadsheets and word processor (writely.com) - makes for a pretty interesting package - all under one account. No AD or NDS password sync options though. No big deal. 

Offer up a Google stock lottery, t-shirts, and drink coasters and you're off and running !

Not many commercial apps out there that offer that sort of feature package period - especially for free. Exposes students to some great technology and advanced usage practices too.

Secure, accessible, controllable via an admin console and a well written AUP. The fine print is a good read and explains all the details.

I often pondered if running email servers was worth it compared to commercial services - especially for small schools. Reduced prices for some of these commercial services have made it affordable vs running an email server, backing it up, setting up scanning and spyware tools, and of course that issue of time to support it all. There's always that time thing to consider. Now there's one option for free.

Add in ideas like free storage online and the yet to be released Google Gdrive (supposedly and unlimited amount of storage per user) and all that time and money spent tinkering servers and backups could be used for a quicker internet connection and for other things education. 

Bruce Wayne