Questions and Answers

General

Why is the University moving to Google Apps?

Partnering with Google will give University students, faculty, and staff access to a suite of state-of-the art communication and collaboration tools that will enhance their ability to work together. In addition to increased productivity opportunities, Google Apps also will allow the University to save costs in the long run by reducing the need to buy and support software, hardware, and storage to maintain our own independent email service.

The move to Google allows the University to use Google's application and data storage servers, a move that provides numerous benefits for the University and its users. Using U of M Google Apps will dramatically increase service quality (in comparison to similar services managed by the University) and enable us to simplify the support model for these core services. The University will save equipment (application and data storage servers), license fees, annual software maintenance costs, and support costs. The Google Apps initiative will save the University an estimated $2 to $3 million per year.

And that frees up time for IT staff to do more work that directly supports the academic and research mission of the University—a move that will open up room for innovation.

Read "Collaboration is the key to IT"

Who will be able to use Google Apps for the University of Minnesota?

Faculty, staff, and students will be able to choose U of M Google Mail and Apps as an option. The long-term goal is to have all students using U of M Gmail, so at some point, all incoming students will be required to use it as their official University email account. A number of roll-out options are being considered at this time for expanding the use and availability of U of M Gmail and other apps beyond the opt-in period.

What applications will be available?

The University will use the Google Apps for Education Edition, which includes the following applications:

Other Google features may be added, based on the recommendations and applicability, at some time after the full implementation is completed. Any new features will be introduced only after complete and thorough review and testing.

Will students, faculty, and staff be able to use other Google Apps besides email?

Yes. Those who choose to opt-in with UM Gmail also will be able to use other Google Apps.

When can I sign up for Google Apps at the U?

All current undergraduate students are eligible to sign up for an account, and a phased implementation for faculty and staff is underway. The current implementation schedule is available on the main page, as well as in the Campus Implementation of this website. You will receive an invitation by email when you are eligible to sign up for an account. 

How will students, faculty, and staff access their U of M Google account?

Shibboleth, a standards-based, open source software will be used to provide single sign-on access, so University users will use their Internet (X.500) ID and password to sign in through the University standard Internet login page.

In addition, you will need to use the University's central authentication process to access your University account. Log in at http://google.umn.edu or www.oit.umn.edu/google. You will not be able to access your University account via the Google personal edition interface such as www.gmail.com, www.google.com/accounts, or www.google.com/ig.

Will I see advertising?

Students will not see advertising while they are active students. However, once a student leaves the University, their account will be subject to advertising like any other Gmail account. Faculty and staff accounts will not be subject to advertising.

What about the coordinate campuses?

All coordinate campuses--Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester--are included in the process and the project team is working with representatives from each campus domain. 

Will the apps be available to retirees who have an Internet ID?

Yes. At this point, the plan is to make Google Apps available to eligible retirees at the same time it becomes available for eligible alumni, after the initial student, faculty, and staff implementation.

Who will administer U of M Google accounts?

U of M Google accounts will be set up and administered by University staff. The University also will provide user support through the help desk and Office of Information Technology (OIT) technical staff.

Email

Will my email address remain the same?

Yes. Your email address will remain the same as it is now. We are able to use our own domain names such as @umn.edu, @d.umn.edu and @morris.umn.edu. It is important to know that all University of Minnesota email still filters through the University network and is delivered from the U of M domain.

When students graduate, will their University Alumni Email Address remain the same as it was before?

Yes. Although it may change, the working plan is to keep email addresses the same.

How much email storage do I have?

Gmail accounts are provided with 25GB of email storage.

Is there a size limit for email sent to or from a Gmail account?

Yes. The message size limit is 25MB.

Is there a size limit on attachments? What do I do if I need to attach a file that is over the limit?

The 25MB message size limit includes all attachments. Other options for sharing files within the University are NetFiles or, if you're sharing files with someone in the same collegiate unit, Active Directory. Google Apps is designed to simplify file sharing by providing links to shared content rather than including it as an attachment, in order to ensure that people will be working and collaborating on the newest version.

What if I already have a personal Google/Gmail account?

Your University of Minnesota Google Apps account is totally separate from your personal Google/Gmail account, so nothing about your personal Google account will change. Your private account and institutional accounts will not be merged. Remember that you will need to use the University's central authentication process to access your University account.

Can I make email folders/subfolders in Gmail?

Google uses "labels" instead of folders to organize email. You can assign multiple labels to a message.

Can departmental and sponsored accounts sign up for Google?

Yes, departmental and sponsored accounts can sign up for a Google account and use Gmail, provided the account does not use file sharing.

Can I continue to use the U of M Mail Sharing feature with Google Apps?

No. Gmail does not support sharing of mail folders.

Will I be able to access my Google Mail and other apps from countries that censor Internet traffic?

It is Google's goal to make sure that all Google services are accessible everywhere. However, there are times when there may be service interruptions in certain countries that are beyond the control of Google and the University. This challenge exists regardless of the service provider. Of course, these interruptions don't just affect Google services, but other sites (Yahoo, Amazon, etc.), as well. Google continues to work to provide direct access to Google services in these countries.

The U of M makes available networking configurations and associated technologies such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection and secure shell (SSL) to help ensure ongoing access to your critical services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Users are encouraged to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, which may, in some cases, lessen the difficulty.

It is important to know that all University of Minnesota email still filters through the University network and is delivered from the U of M domain. 

After switching to GMail, will the out-of-office autoreply and mail forwarding functions still be available and continue to work the same as they do now?

U of M Google account users will need to use Google's autoreply, forwarding and mail filters features available in Gmail. The existing central functions will no longer be available to Google users. Please note that in Gmail, you cannot forward to more than one account as is now possible with the existing University user tools.

What about email aliases, where folks have multiple addresses that all route to the same mailbox? Will all of these continue to work as they do now? What about a case like ours where we have @epi.umn.edu route to @umn.edu to deal with all of our addresses that we migrated from a departmental server?

Aliases will continue to work as they do now. We will continue to accept mail for the various domains, such as @epi.umn.edu, forwarding them on to users whether they are in Google or not. However, you should note that the "To" and "Cc" lines will show the Google domain rather than the original domain. For example, email addressed to user@epi.umn.edu will appear as "To: user@umn.edu" in Gmail. Likewise, useralias@umn.edu will show up as user@umn.edu in the Gmail.

In Google Calendar, however, the primary calendar associated with a user's account will not be tied to that user's aliases. The calendar is only associated with the users original email address.

As of now we are told that aliases are not handled by the autoreply system. How does switching to GMail affect this?

Autoreplies will be sent by Google based on mail they receive and should work for those aliases, but that process is still in the testing phase.

Calendar

Can I merge my personal Google Calendar with my University Google Calendar?

No. Your University of Minnesota Google Apps account is totally separate from your personal Google account, and your private account and institutional accounts will not be merged.

Can I share my calendar with people outside of the University?

Yes.

If a user creates a unit calendar and makes it a shared resource giving other unit members permission to make changes AND manage sharing, what happens to the calendar if the original creator leaves the University and their U of M Google account is deactivated?

The calendar will still exist and the permissions for others will remain the same. The setting "make changes and manage sharing" effectively makes the second person an "owner" of the resource, as well. It would be best practice to make a department account an "owner" (i.e., "make changes and manage sharing") of the personal calendar. Otherwise, the scenario could occur where one person creates a calendar, makes a second person an owner, and then both leave the University. In that scenario, the calendar would disappear.

Other

Will alumni accounts be allowed to use Google Apps?

Yes. At this point, the plan is to make Google Apps available to eligible alumni after the initial student, faculty, and staff implementation.

What's the difference between Gmail Chat and Google Talk?

Gmail's chat features and the downloadable Google Talk application are very similar in functionality. Both Gmail and the Google Talk client let you connect to the Google Talk network, which is made up of millions of people who use the Google Talk IM product, or a service that supports open server-to-server federation. Currently, Google Talk works only with Windows XP or Vista.

Google Talk offers some additional customization options, including making Gmail the default mail handler and providing notifications of incoming mail to Gmail. On its own, Gmail chat allows you to talk to people from directly within Gmail. If you're signed in to the Google Talk application in the background, Gmail will also allow you to make free voice calls from your friends' profile cards. Features that Gmail chat has but Google Talk does not offer are video chat, invisible mode, and group chat.

Will Google Talk with video chat be supported?

Yes. Google Talk will be supported, and video chat has been enabled.

Are there U of M templates for Sites and Forms?

We currently do not have templates for Google Sites or Forms. We have been and continue to work with U Relations with regard to branding issue solutions for both, and one of the items is to work on creating a template with U branding for use with Google Sites.

Although there is no definite time frame for completing these templates, we are aware of the need for them and are working on them. Please understand that the priority for our team is to to facilitate a smooth transition to Google Apps for everyone at the U, and our phased implementation will continue until then.

Once everyone has been transitioned and working collaboratively, we will be able to spend more time on these enhancements.

Miscellaneous; Training; Help and Support

Where can I find support documentation? What about training classes?

Will Google Apps at the University of Minnesota accounts be accessible for users with disabilities?

The email application, Gmail, may be used with a screen reader for users with disabilities. More information is available at the related Google Help Center. The Google Docs Help Center on accessibility is not yet available, but University staff are working with Google on this issue.

Is there a way that I can see a copy of the University's contract with Google?

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) reviews and approves all contracts to which the University of Minnesota is a party. If you would like to get a copy of the Google contract, contact Susan McKinney at susanmckinney@mail.ogc.umn.edu.

Questions and comments

Please send any questions or comments about the U of M Google Initiative to google@umn.edu.