For those people who use Oracle Calendar (apparently there are 500 of you on campus, wow) or Bmail – you should know: the decision is official; we’re switching to Gmail – with no ads!

Enjoy. Here’s a couple articles previewing the change, and here’s the official announcement after the jump.

Oh and also btw the campus is probably going to switch to super-wifi soon. This will be really cool. One problem – no more ethernet, and no more fancy phones.

I’d like to take this opportunity to proudly point out that we reported this all-wifi plan back in September 2009. Our campus technology infrastructure is uncommonly good and the LTS staff farsighted. It’s nice to take a moment to savor that.

Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,

I’m writing to update you on some planned changes to the University’s calendar and email services. Starting this summer, we will begin migrating these services to a suite of applications run by Google especially for universities and colleges. These applications will be easier to use, cheaper for the University to maintain, and will integrate more easily with Google applications many of you already use in your personal and professional lives. Please note that these changes will take place after the completion of this semester to avoid any issues at this busy time of the year.

While Google Apps includes a number of different applications, the two most significant at this stage are Google Calendar and Gmail.

Starting in June, Google Calendar will replace the Oracle Collaboration Suite Calendar, which is used today by about 500 people on campus–some 200 of them heavy users. Oracle has announced that it soon will stop supporting that product. Google Calendar, which many of you probably use to keep your personal schedules, is also a fully-functional group calendaring system. It provides much greater functionality than the Oracle calendar, without the licensing fees. It supports individual and group scheduling, managing of rooms and other resources, and mobile access.

Gmail will replace the Zimbra service you know as Bmail, which we’ve used for the last two years. With Gmail, we’ll have a system that is fully integrated with Google Calendar, and we’ll no longer need to pay service fees to Zimbra. This means, among other things, that you will be able to accept meetings directly from an email invitation, rather than having to switch to the calendar application. We’ll do this migration over the summer and fall, and as we did with our migration to Bmail, we will work with each person and with each department to select an appropriate time. It is important for everyone to know that your email address will not change, and you will continue to be able to use your favorite email client, whether it be a web browser or a dedicated email client such as Apple Mail.app or Thunderbird. Moreover, Gmail for higher education does NOT include advertisements. It does provide outstanding security, excellent spam filtering, and greater overall stability–all at no cost.

Finally, our move to Google Apps provides the entire community with free access to Google Docs. Google Docs allows you to create, share, and edit text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. Use of Google Docs is entirely optional. You can continue to use Microsoft Office applications as you currently do. But we know some of you have requested this, and we’re happy to make it available starting today.

We’ve created a website and a blog to provide information and tutorials on all the Google Apps and to allow you to ask questions and to comment on the changes. You can visit the website at www.brandeis.edu/googleapps and visit our blog at blogs.brandeis.edu/googleapps/ to join in the conversation.

Respectfully,
Perry

Perry O. Hanson III
Vice President & Vice Provost for Library & Technology Services

12 comments on “Wifi all the way baby. Also – switch to Gmail!”

  1. AB Says:

    The 500 number is probably false. For example, I downloaded and used it for a week freshman year, yet I’m probably still included within the licensing that they are quoted. Also, don’t forget that the 500 number includes faculty, staff, grads, and undergrads.

    I’m excited for google cal. I’ve been using it for a few months now.

  2. Gideon Says:

    Phones. Is it your sense that new students simply won’t be issued with them? It’s not like they’re going to disconnect the entire system and uproot all the wiring, right?

  3. karelsf Says:

    Gideon should consult LTS about phones, but the plan as explained to me is not to give them to any students new or returning. They think you all have cell phones and don’t need the IP phones at all.

    Further, no one is going to remove the wires from dorms, but they may well remove the network equipment to which the wires connect.

    I hope the network truly turns out to be “super WiFi” but for me, I want wires.

  4. art Says:

    what i’d LOVE for is integration between sage and gcal. Ie. one button that auto-enters my class schedule in my gcal, so its on my phone.

  5. karelsf Says:

    google cal can import (or subscribe to) files in ical (.ics) format.

    in what format does sage export your schedule? I don’t take classes, so can’t generate myself an example.

  6. art Says:

    To the best of my knowledge it does not do so at all-but I may be wrong

  7. Gideon Says:

    I’m wondering about the phones because of interviews and talk shows on WBRS. I’ll look into the plans, but if they’re close to what’s being presented here none of us at the station is going to be very happy about it. A radio station without a telephone? Or is it just wiring the dorms that will get disconnected?

  8. art Says:

    Everyone uses skype nowadays

  9. Ben Says:

    I’m sure no one has a problem with the switch to google apps.

    In terms of the no-phones issue, I have friends in the Mods who don’t get any cell phone reception and need to use their phones to receive calls. Hopefully if they do ditch the phones they can also bolster cell-service across campus.

    Also for the radio station I’m sure we’ll find a way around it, as art brings up with skype (which not everyone uses at all but whatever), we can just as easily have a skype phone-number for listeners to call into. But if the issue is that the current phones stay and no new ones get issued then that’s not even a problem so it would be nice if the administration would clear that up. Although I’m guessing they don’t have solid plans yet so they don’t want to announce anything quite yet.

  10. karelsf Says:

    only in the dorms, as far as I can tell.

  11. karelsf Says:

    Ben said “I’m sure no one has a problem with the switch to google apps”

    That is not quite true. I know several faculty and staff who are quite concerned about privacy issues with Google, and several others who are concerned about loss of functionality in gmail as opposed to the status quo.

  12. art Says:

    They will probably phase out the phones with their “product life cycle”, ie. a few years. I doubt they would let perfectly good phones sit their collecting dust while dorms are wired. There’s no added administration cost to the phones, is there?