UC Davis Information & Educational Technology

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Coming soon to campus: Google Apps, Box.com and new email services

08/22/2013

Faculty, students and staff will gain access to new communication and collaboration tools in 2013-14, starting as soon as next week.

  • On Aug. 30, the campus will begin rolling out Google Apps for Education which includes Google Drive (file storage and sharing), Google Docs (document creation and collaboration), Google + (social networking and video chat), and other popular Apps (blogging, sites, etc.). Compared to the services Google makes available to the public, the UC Davis offering is free of ads, comes at no cost to faculty, staff, and students, includes contractual protections against data mining, and provides twice the storage (30GB vs. 15 GB).
  • By early October, through a partnership with several academic and administrative units, Information and Educational Technology (IET) will start offering Box.com accounts. Box is very similar to DropBox, which many people are already familiar with: it makes it possible to share files easily and securely with the people you choose, and collaborate online with colleagues on campus or at other institutions. Files can be synchronized between the cloud and various devices (individual computers, smartphones, and tablets). Accounts will provide 50GB of storage at no cost to campus members.
  • Now through 2014, IET will introduce new email services from Microsoft and Google which will include significant increases in campus mailbox sizes and new calendaring functionality. The dean's offices and administrative units are overseeing their own organizations' email and calendar migrations, in coordination with IET.

"Simple, modern collaboration and storage tools are critical these days, especially with the increasing need to access email, calendars and files from any device, anywhere, at any time," said Prasant Mohapatra, interim chief information officer for UC Davis and vice provost for Information and Educational Technology. "I am delighted that we are able to introduce these new ways for our faculty, students and staff to work together efficiently and with ease. This is a good example of partnering with industry leaders and exploring the benefits of cloud services so we have flexible ways of addressing the needs of our campus community," said Mohapatra.

Assistant Dean Steve Roth is heading a new email and calendaring tools committee of faculty and staff that is overseeing the planning and rollout of these new tools, culminating in the retirement of the aging Geckomail/Cyrus system. A key element of this initiative involves decisions that the deans and heads of administrative units are making to determine which email and calendaring services (Google or Microsoft) will be offered to their faculty and staff. Until these decisions are made, Gmail is not included in the suite of Google Apps being introduced this month. Students, who already have most of the Apps through their Google email accounts (DavisMail), will gain a new one: Google+, which includes Google Hangouts.

Use of Google Apps and Box.com is optional. They are simply available if people want to use them. Because of more stringent legal, privacy and security requirements for medical records, however, the Health System and the Student Health Center have opted to hold off on using these tools at this time. "Privacy and security of patient data is of the utmost importance, requiring special handling and contractual agreements. We are working with Google and Box to ensure clear guidelines and strong agreements are in place for storing patient and other sensitive data for campus use of these cloud services," said campus Chief Information Security Officer Cheryl Washington.

Getting started on Google Apps

Google Apps accounts will be automatically activated for everyone. To start using your account effective Aug. 30, visit cloud.ucdavis.edu and log in using your standard campus login ID and passphrase.

One of the hallmarks of Google products is their simplicity and ease of use. Still, there are tutorials, videos, how-to documentation and other resources available from Google, as well as a campus FAQ about Google Apps for those wish to read more about them. The campus IT Express Computing Services Help Desk also can help with core Google Apps, primarily Google Drive and Mail (for people who have DavisMail as their campus email service).

Existing @ucdavis.edu personal Google Apps accounts

Before Google introduced Gmail, a relatively small number of faculty and staff created personal Google Apps accounts using their @ucdavis.edu email address to access services like Docs, Calendar, and YouTube. On Aug. 30, when the UC Davis Google Apps roll out, all those @ucdavis.edu accounts will automatically transfer to the UC Davis version of Google Apps. The services will remain the same, but Google will prompt these users to provide an alternate, non-UC Davis email address the first time they log in. Instructions are available to help determine if you fall into this category and, if so, what steps to take. See cloud.ucdavis.edu.

Please direct questions and comments about any of these tools to cloud-services@ucdavis.edu.



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