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Calmail transition to Google-powered applications continues

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NOVEMBER 12, 2012

UC Berkeley is in the midst of transitioning over to Google-powered email, calendar and document-sharing systems.

While incoming students who did not have an @berkeley.edu account gained access to the new system in August, returning students gained access to the new system in October.

During the ongoing transition, messages that are currently stored in CalMail will migrate over to the new system, and students will also receive access to campus-connected versions of Google’s calendar system and file-sharing system, Google Drive.

According to Joseph Lim-Effendy, co-chair of the campus Student Technology Council, as of Nov. 7, approximately 3,500 students — or roughly 10 percent of the student population — had made the transition over to the new system. The STC helped advise the campus’s team on bConnected, the umbrella term used to refer to the school’s implementation of the Google education applications.

Lim-Effendy speculated that the primary reason a large percentage of students had not yet transitioned was a lack of motivation.

“I kind of took it as a suggestion,” said UC Berkeley freshman Daniel Watson. “I haven’t switched yet probably because I’ve forgotten about it — it doesn’t seem like I need to just yet.”

David Scronce, the bConnected change manager, said the rate of student transition is mostly what he expected and was probably affected by midterms and the general election.

For campus staff and faculty, the transition began in July when they were moved over to the new package’s calendar system, according to Scronce.

“Up until now, students haven’t had a calendar provided for them by the campus,” he said. “We wanted to give them that calendar, so it was easier to create the accounts for calendar, mail and Drive together.”

The new bConnected system is part of Operational Excellence’s Productivity Suite project, which also provides students with access to software from Microsoft and Adobe.

Before choosing Google a year ago, the campus also considered the Microsoft Office 365 system, according to Operational Excellence Student Communications Coordinator Matt Goren. After an analysis comparing both systems, the campus found that Google provided the best product at the lowest price.

Goren said the switch from CalMail to Google will save money for the campus because it will no longer have to maintain and operate its own email server. He said last December’s CalMail crash wasn’t a main factor in the decision to switch but that it helped expose the old system’s shortcomings.

“We were using a system that was homegrown for over a decade, and it was costing us a lot of money to try to fix it,” he said.

Contact Andy Nguyen at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 13, 2012

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