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Georgetown Hoyas are going Google

Posted by Lisa Davis, CIO, Georgetown University 

Editors note: Today's guest blogger is Lisa Davis, Chief Information Officer at Georgetown University. 

Going Google was an opportunity to reimagine technology’s role at Georgetown and unify our campus by moving to a powerful cloud computing solution that worked no matter where our users were or what device they used. We had calendars, mail, and file storage and sharing tools before, but they were fragmented and in dire need of replacement. Our email system was twelve years old, only allowed 250MB per user, and calendars were not universally adopted or user-friendly. When our 16,000 students started using Google Apps for Education back in 2009, we instantly noticed some dramatic benefits. So we’ve decided to complete the migration by moving everyone over to the same platform. By summer’s end our 20,000 students, staff, and faculty members won’t have to worry about hitting email quota limits, guessing what teammates’ calendars look like, or being frustrated by the technology around them.

While modernizing our technology was one motivation, we also wanted to invest in a long-term vision of moving our university into the 21st century. Doing this in-house would have amounted to a tremendous resource commitment both now and in the future, for a relatively small boost in the end user experience. Google’s tools were an affordable way to provide a sustainable infrastructure for our faculty and staff. 

The process of moving our users to Google was fast, painless, and will ultimately make our users more productive. We were really impressed with our community’s reception to the switch. It helped that about 30% of our staff and faculty already had personal Gmail accounts, but during our outreach events, even people without that exposure were excited to migrate. We did several demonstration events to answer questions, and provided hands on support for those who needed it. 

Working on projects and tasks has become much less painful after switching to Google Apps because instead of dozens of versions attached to dozens of emails, we can all work on one copy at the same time through Google Docs. The Corp, the student-run corporation at Georgetown, uses Google Apps to coordinate schedules, plan events, and manage other aspects of the business. With our 4,000 faculty and staff now using Google Apps as well, we are excited to see the innovative uses the whole campus will find for collaboration, enhancing the education experience, and becoming more productive across campus. 

We look forward to bidding farewell to the days of full inboxes, missed appointments, and inefficient technology. Going Google allows us to switch off our email servers and at the same time take a giant leap forward in the services we provide our employees and students.