Frequently Asked Questions

Why didn't we outsource to Google?

The DIIS evaluation of email products looked at Google Apps for Higher Education as well as Zimbra; the latter was not offered free to higher education.

The following information relates to Google Apps for Education:

  • Google Apps is exclusively a Web-based service, there was no option to install an instance hosted locally on our campus if the decision was made to only outsource student email but not faculty and staff email. This would mean that faculty and staff would of necessity have had to use a different email and calendar solution than students.
  • Opportunities to federate identities, interoperate across both platforms, share calendar information and otherwise collaborate would be diminished.
  • Microsoft Exchange is outsourced to Microsoft via Office 365 for students but installed locally for faculty and staff can be federated so that the two implementations can share common directories and permit sharing of calendar and other information. It also has the advantage of requiring knowledge of only one product set in order to provide support to both students and faculty/staff.  
  • Google has no desktop clients for either PC or Mac. Typically, desktop clients can be more feature-rich and efficient than Web clients.
  • Google Mail can be read from supported email clients – Thunderbird and Apple Mail. However, Google uses a different paradigm for organizing stored messages than Exchange (Office 365) - message tags rather than the hierarchical folder structure our staff and faculty are most familiar with. This can make filing of and searching for Google messages from within a desktop client confusing.
  • There is no desktop client equivalent for Google calendar, it is entirely Web-based. Microsoft Outlook clients combine and tightly integrate both email and calendar functions into a single application. For example, it is possible to respond to a calendar meeting invitation by replying to the email announcing it.
  • Microsoft Office 365 uses standard Microsoft-provided tools that tightly integrate with our onsite Active Directory instance for purposes of authenticating our users for access to their hosted email and calendar accounts. These same tools can be used for other identity-related tasks as well. DIIS feels that this integration is superior to what Google permits for authentication mechanisms."