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.
P.S.: Here is the "No Fees" section from the Google Apps "Terms of Service" page:
. 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:
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.