UC Berkeley’s transition from CalMail to new Google email and calendar applications is now underway, with orientations to assist users in migration to the new platforms beginning next week.
Lyle Nevels, campus interim associate vice chancellor for Information Technology and chief information officer, revealed the scheduled rollout for the Google Apps for Education — dubbed bMail and bCal — in an email sent to the campus community Monday. Migration to the new calendar platform will occur first, going live July 23.
In the meantime, users of the old platform, CalAgenda, will receive training and data migration information by June 15, according to Nevels.
The Google Apps are being hailed as a fresh start after a series of crashes and technical difficulties that plagued the old CalMail system throughout the previous year.
“Some of these platforms provide a big advantage in usability,” said junior Maximilian Burkhardt, who works at Residential Computing — a campus organization that provides technical support to students. “(The Google Apps) will be a good change for the campus.”
Rollout of the email and calendaring systems will continue through the fall, and Operational Excellence, the campus program that oversees the project, aims to have 80 percent of the campus using the new Google Apps by the end of the year, according to the program’s website.
The campaign for Google Apps was started in 2010 by former ASUC President Noah Stern, said incoming ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath, and Stern’s technological development director at the time.
“One of (Stern’s) platforms was to advocate for a better email and calendaring system,” Sayarath said.
However, Sayarath said the Google Apps were not taken seriously by the campus until Operational Excellence — a program that aims to save Berkeley $75 million annually by increasing the efficiency of the campus administration — pushed for the switch, Sayarath said.
The new Google Apps is part of Operational Excellence’s Productivity Suite project, which includes campus-wide licensing for Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite.
According to Nevels, bMail and bCal will reduce the ongoing operational cost of running email and calendar services across the campus by approximately $400,000 per year.
“For less money, we are able to expand the user base to the entire campus community, provide additional email storage and, like all Productivity Suite services, provide users with a platform for increasing individual productivity and connectivity among faculty, staff, students, and beyond,” Nevels said.
For Sayarath and others in the ASUC, this new technology is just the beginning of a campaign that will “allow students to take control of their technological experience.” He added that ASUC President Connor Landgraf is working with the Student Technology Council on a proposal for further technological improvements and possibly a technology referendum on the spring 2013 ASUC ballot.
“The campus moves very slowly with these kinds of big technology switches,” Sayarath said. “That’s a problem for students who have to stay up-to-date on the latest technology to stay competitive in the workforce, to communicate more effectively, and to be better students.”