Google Apps In Schools

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The freebie that Google is offering to educational institutions for its Google Apps service is sending some school systems into the cloud for e-mail and archiving.  The Prince George’s County Public School System near Washington, D.C., for example, about a year ago elected to shift the e-mail for its staff to Google Apps.  Laurie Tranmer, e-mail services manager for Prince George’s schools, says there are about 28,000 Google Apps accounts for staff and others, and in the process her department has migrated off several Microsoft Exchange servers and storage-area networks.  It’s meant saving a much-appreciated $1 million per year in the midst of a fiscal crisis, Tranmer says.  But the school system, which gets Google Apps Education Edition for free, does pay for other security-related and archiving services it elected to use, including Google Message Discovery, the Google Postini service that lets authorized users search for past e-mail needed to respond to informal or official legal inquiries.  Google Message Discovery provides an effective search tool to discover archived e-mail, Tranmer says.  One thing appealing about it is that it allows her department to delegate the task directly to the legal and audit divisions……

Has Google Apps been a reliable service for e-mail?  Sharon Thompson, e-mail services administrator in the county school district, says it was down two times in the past year but service was restored within three hours each time.  She says the intention is to begin phasing in Google Apps e-mail for students in the coming year, adding the county’s experience is encouraging it to look at other cloud-based services, too.  Adam Swidler, senior product marketing manager at Google Postini, says the company is courting both K-12 and university school systems in the United States and abroad with the free Google Apps Education Edition, which includes e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, instant messaging and shared calendar…..Google Apps Education Edition is expected to remain free into the foreseeable future, Swidler says.  The Google Message Discovery service, in which Google provides up to 10 years of e-mail retention, costs $11 per user per year for education, a discount off the Business Edition price.

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