CIO's Blog

Stephen Frazier, Western Illinois University

Google Apps Update – March 2016

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WIU is Going Google!

Western Illinois University has chosen Google Apps to become its new email and calendar platform. University Technology (uTech) has been working on the migration and will begin moving select students and employees from Zimbra to the new services as early as this month!  You can read more about Google Apps and the history of how the University made the decision to move to this platform at wiu.edu/GoogleApps.

A WIU Google Apps Transition Team has been meeting regularly since late February in order to make plans.  There are many hurdles to overcome – technological, instructional, and contractual in nature.  Nevertheless, the team is moving forward with the aggressive goal of having everyone moved from Zimbra to Google Apps before the start of the fall 2016 semester.

In late February, the transition team invited members from the University community – students, employees, alumni, and retirees – to volunteer as early adopters who will alert the transition team to potential problems.  The response was amazing!  People had volunteered within minutes and the list has grown to include over 700 individuals. We will start migrating some of these volunteers in late March.  If you signed up, watch your emails to see if you were among those chosen!

In addition, we’ve asked the department chairs, deans and directors to nominate tech-savvy individuals from their areas to serve as “Google Guides”.  These Google Guides will be migrated along with the first early adopters and they will serve as local resources in their department by assisting their colleagues with questions relating to the migration and the new Google Apps programs. There are now over 150 employees and students who will serve as local Google Apps experts for their colleagues!  Besides turning to Google Guides for answers, uTech will make information and tutorials available on the wiu.edu/GoogleApps website.

A complicated transition such as this can be difficult and we appreciate that everyone – especially the Google Guides – will need to invest some time into learning about the new services. With their help and yours, WIU can quickly and efficiently make the move to Google Apps and start enjoying all the benefits that these new services have to offer.

The following is a rough timeline to help you plan for your migration. 

  • Late March: Google Guides and select early adopters to be migrated to Google Apps
  • Early April: No new Zimbra accounts will be created; all new WIU employees and incoming students will be given Google Apps accounts
  • Mid-April through May: Migrate remaining early adopters and migrate entire departments of faculty/staff (on an opt-in basis per request of department chairs/directors)
  • Starting June: Allow individual students, employees, alumni and retirees to opt in for immediate migration
  • August 19: All remaining users will be migrated from Zimbra to Google Apps

Please note that these dates may change depending on our progress. uTech will post this timeline and keep it updated at wiu.edu/GoogleApps, along with a list of resources, FAQs, and a list of Google Guides.  Please bookmark that page and check back there often!

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Author: Stephen Frazier, CIO

Stephen Frazier heads up the University Technology department as the CIO at Western Illinois University. He can be reached at sl-frazier@wiu.edu.

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