Brief update… and a question

I’ve been remiss in writing for Gravity Medium lately, due to a bunch of things going on in my paid professional life.

We’re still in the midst of a strategic reconfiguration at the office, yet that seems to be slowing down now, as… well, I can’t really explain it without betraying confidences. Basically the process of reviewing the company’s structure and mission has stalled out and I don’t know when, or if, it will re-engage. I’m hopeful that we can startup again before June, but who knows. It’s been quite the roller coaster and at the moment I just want to get off and find a Sno Cone.

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Separately — and way more fun — I’ve been working on moving my company and all its employees over to Google Apps, in the process dumping our Microsoft Exchange e-mail server and Outlook (at least officially).

So here’s the question: Do you have experience with moving your company over to Google Apps, especially away from Exchange and Outlook? If so, I’d like to hear about it either in the comments or via e-mail.

Right now I’m still in the planning and early-adopter transition phase, but in the end I have to migrate about 40 people to the service (which is tiny, I know), moving most of their archived mail to the service. I’ve already run into a couple mail migration glitches and I’m still figuring out how to handle public folders.

In the end, I expect to save anywhere from a few thousand to several thousand dollars per year (electricity, server upkeep, backup management, software licensing, staff time) and get some intangible cultural benefits from pushing the company further online. Instant messaging integrated with the web e-mail client is compelling, as is vast e-mail storage space and the document sharing features of Google Docs.

So let me know if you’re a Google Apps shop. What works? What doesn’t work? Send me your cheers and your jeers for the service. I can share my experiences, too, if that’s helpful.

4 thoughts on “Brief update… and a question

  1. I have experience moving outlook users to google apps. Don’t bother with the premium editions that offer migration of mail – simply set up all the users – set up gmail imap, then drag-n-drop from outlook. Ta.. da.. If you don’t think your employees are hip to watching outlooks progress bar do nothing for an hour then you may want to stick to the pro tools w/ google apps. I just know what I’ve done, and I recently performed that feat for a neighbor friend.

    When it comes to your domain be sure to set up DNS correctly and follow everything google wants you to do, including setting the SPF records and the SRV records for the chat/jabber service. After a bit of emailing all of your users will be able to use google talk, or any jabber client, to .. jabber .. with each other.

    Stay away from pages/sites. You’re too good for it.

    Focus on using distribution lists instead of assigning multiple aliases per user, makes life far more managable.

    That’s it! You can do most of this and more using the gmail for domains free version.

  2. @whardier — I’ve had some glitches with the e-mail movement from Outlook to Gmail via IMAP. It seems to error out a lot. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong? I have to restart all kinds of those sessions to keep it running.

    I also ran into trouble using Google’s transfer tools — via IMAP to my own server it would pull out all the content in the Public Folders as well as the user’s own folders. I could probably restrict the connection just to user folders, but haven’t figured that out yet.

    The good news is that as a formal nonprofit company, we get access to the “Education” edition, which is 95% the same as the paid version, with all the tools. The only real difference is the fact that I don’t get a 25GB mailbox per person. But that’s not a problem — many users will go from a 0.25 GB mailbox to a 6.7 GB mailbox overnight!

    I may tap you for more info later!

  3. @Robert… Indeed! This is a perfect tool for nonprofits that don’t want to spend the money to run their own systems and who want lots of newfangled tools — all for free.

    There’s a free edition of Google Apps that includes advertising in the webmail system. Then there’s a paid version for normal corporations that costs $50 per user per year. But for official nonprofits and schools, there’s another free version that dumps the advertising and offers all the features.

    So definitely recommend Google Apps to any nonprofit org that needs e-mail!

    (The only problem would be with healthcare companies in the U.S. — the privacy and security requirements of U.S. regulations would put Google Apps off the list of options for e-mail services.)

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