Google Groups Update

More information on the transfer to Google Groups

As part of a systemwide security upgrade, all group e-mail or departmental accounts will be replaced by Google Groups accounts. The following information will help clear up some facts, rumors and deadlines associated with this move.

Two years ago, OIT underwent a security audit and review. In that audit, shared accounts, in which multiple users share a single account name and share a password, were identified as a security risk that needed a remedy. Regardless of the switch to Google, the University needed to end this practice and no longer issue department accounts.

Old departmental accounts, sy addresses, will not go away until a solution is in place that meets department and user needs. The original target date of December 21 was moved back to June 30. It has since become apparent that it will take more time to move all the department accounts. The department accounts will not be going away on June 30.

Please sign up at www.alaska.edu/google/groups right away to request a new address that can be advertised on websites or in publications and communications. Your old account will remain active, and e-mail to the new group will be forwarded to the old address until the transition process is complete.

When you sign up for your new Google group account your old account remains in service until you are ready to fully use your new account. This gives you time to work with it to meet department requirements and get any needed assistance.

At the basic level, a Google Group Account will serve as a replacement e-mail for the old department account. How that address gets used depends greatly on how messages incoming and outgoing were managed on the old account. OIT will assist departments with mapping out the process and configuring your new account.

Due to huge variations in how departmental accounts have been used, OIT has not been able to develop a standard matrix for departments to follow during this transition. OIT understands that this has caused frustration and confusion and do apologize. They are willing to come and work with departments on a one-on-one basis to help map out a path for the transition into a Google Groups account that meets specific department needs.

Some departments have developed an elaborate workflow through the shared account that can’t be duplicated in Google. For departments that are more complicated, OIT is investigating other GoogleApps tools and available customer relationship management add-ons that will allow departments that need it to create more complicated workflows. Such add-ons would be another tab in the GoogleApps suite.

You may have heard rumors of other options for creating what people are calling department accounts and that OIT is refusing to turn them on. There are resource accounts within the directory and “blind” departmental accounts within Google with proxy access, but each of these has drawbacks that are either in conflict with other business practices or in conflict with security policy. Additionally they make departments more dependent on OIT for the management of the account and members than Google solutions do.

Be assured that existing department accounts will not go away until a solution is in place that meets your needs. Please understand however, that will require working together with OIT to arrive at a solution and it may require some modification to current practices. In all cases, steps will be taken to minimize changes. OIT is continuing to look into ways to use the tools within the Google Applications and to supplement those tools to find solutions to all department needs. Your patience and willingness to cooperate is appreciated during this process.

If you have any questions please contact Karl Kowalski.

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