February 22, 2006

GMail for institutions

Writing about web page http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/big-mail-on-campus.html

The Google Blog contained an interesting announcement the other day; they're becoming the email provider for an educational institution – specifically, San Jose City College in the US. They'll be GMail accounts, but they'll have SJCC addresses, and they'll be supporting about 10,000 students.

Given that GMail accounts are free to individuals, I wonder how much the college is paying Google for the service?

Google aren't the only ones pursuing this line; Microsoft have a similar offering called Windows Live @ Edu. If anything, Microsoft's offering is even more interesting, since it includes not just hosted email, but contacts management, calendering, Messenger, MSN Spaces, MSN Mobile and SMS Alerts. Furthermore, if I understand the web site correctly, the Microsoft offering is free to the institution with 2GB of storage per student, and the email accounts persist forever – so the institution can offer lifetime hosting for alumni at no cost to itself.

Hmm.


- 6 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Mathew Mannion

    Microsoft… wins!? :/ So when does GMail replace SquirrelMail? :)

    22 Feb 2006, 21:33

  2. Jimmy.

    For some disillusioned GroupWise and SMail users, it already has!

    Seriously, sounds like an excellent plan from Google and Microsoft – pretty much "force" thousands of students to use your services, by virtue of it being their official University email, and you've (hopefully) got dedicated users for life!

    22 Feb 2006, 21:58

  3. Frankie Roberto

    Interesting indeed, because Universities have been running e-mail servers for far longer than either Google or Microsoft. But Universities have often fallen behind with their provision of web-based e-mail access, which has become far more popular than using Eudora or Outlook.

    The important thing is that the e-mail addresses can still be @uni.ac.uk – but if they're all hosted on Microsoft/Google servers, there's still the potential for lock-in. If Google were just to sell their GMail web interface to Unis, for installation on their own servers, then that'd be pretty valuable though.

    Frankie

    23 Feb 2006, 12:02

  4. Robert O'Toole

    Interesting question – how can Google manage to produce such a massivley scalable service, to which they are able to safely add significant new features, considering that many other institutions cannot (see John's earlier entry for more on this problem).

    Perhaps two answers are:

    1. there are fewer dependenies on other systems (e.g. a user directory from another vendor that does lots of other jobs);
    2. there are fewer guarantees offered as to what they provide, as users rarely pay for the service.

    These issues are part of what makes running an institutional IT service more difficult.

    If GMail were to be franchised to a university, and installed locally as Frankie suggests, no doubt it would acquire all kinds of dependencies. That would weaken it, along with the Google name.

    If they persue the path of licensing the Google run service to universities, they get into service level agreements and guarantees. Are they ready for that? I'm sure they have good contract lawyers.

    23 Feb 2006, 16:59

  5. Steven Carpenter

    how can Google manage to produce such a massivley scalable service, to which they are able to safely add significant new features, considering that many other institutions cannot (see John's earlier entry for more on this problem).

    Quotas and a 2005 turnover of $1.26 billion maybe?

    24 Feb 2006, 13:23

  6. Robert O'Toole

    Quotas, which of course they can impose unconditionally on users who are getting the service for free. As for the cash, that doesn't necessarily solve the scalability problem.

    24 Feb 2006, 21:33


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