Moving from Exchange and Box to Google

Project to Migrate ‘Microsoft Exchange on premise’ to Google in the Cloud

What:

IT has begun investigating a new project to migrate all of our SSU university email, calendaring, and storage from Microsoft Exchange to the Google Cloud, which impacts faculty, staff, and students.  Please contact Evan Ferguson or Lee Krichmar with questions.

If you use Box, please note that we now recommend using Google Team Drives for cloud storage, which allows for files to be shared by various staff and stored in the cloud – for access from anywhere. Google Team Drives can be setup now simply by requesting this service via your GEO support staff or the IT Help Desk. We will soon be required to pay for Box, which is a competing company that provides us with file storage within the cloud. Box was funded by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, but this service will no longer be funded for SSU since there are alternatives that are now available for free. For long term planning, IT will work with your department to assist with migrating your department and personal files into Google Team Drive or personal cloud storage instead of using Box. We do not have any established date that Box will no longer be provided, but it makes sense to consolidate these services in the future.

IT is also planning on replacing our “Mailman” listserv with Google Groups, which is one of the tools that we currently use to send out group emails.

When:

This migration is tentatively scheduled for May 24, 2019, shortly after the grade submission cutoff date for the spring 2019 semester.  Unfortunately, IT can’t cutover our @sonoma.edu accounts in a piecemeal fashion. IT is investigating and trying to build a plan that includes the possibility of running an automated migration for all SSU users (over the weekend) at once. We will communicate the specific changes that you will notice once we undergo testing and create our web-based documentation.

Why:

IT is currently supporting our Exchange system on a server in our data center in Schulz. This server is approaching its end-of-life and needs to be retired or replaced. While we have replaced the equipment in the past, it only provides 5 more years of use and there is no server replacement funds within the current IT budget. Therefore, IT is recommending that we retire this server and move our email, calendaring, and list serves to the Google cloud environment. This will be the least expensive solution because we are able to use the Google cloud for no additional cost. Our existing cloud spam filtering solution (Edgewave) is expensive and this would allow us to recoup that separate expense as well. Additionally, Google would become responsible for automatically providing us with disaster recovery services in the cloud.

Tangible Gains:

After much analysis, Google was selected as our future provider due to the following benefits:

  • Provided free to higher education institutions
  • Disaster recovery provided by Google
  • Unlimited quotas for email and file storage
  • Spam filters are included and integrated, so it will be easier to check your spam folder and to report any spam you received that was not automatically blocked, to update the spam filter
  • File sharing and online collaboration tools are inclusive and more comprehensive
  • Automation and backend tools for IT are robust and customizable

Possible Drawbacks:

As with most large-scale changes, there's some potential downsides that are important to be mindful of:

  • Learning curve for IT to manage a new system, and for users to use the Gmail interface
  • Differences between Gmail and Exchange may result in client functionality differences
  • SSU's email will be primarily stored "in the cloud" as opposed to directly on SSU-owned equipment within our data center on campus

Specific Imacts of the Migration from Exchange to Google Cloud:

  1. Email - Email cannot be individually migrated until we cutover our sonoma.edu the email domain on the weekend that we schedule everyone to migrate. You can use your existing email client on your desktop, laptop, and/or phone to access Google. For example, if you want to continue using Microsoft Outlook app to read your email from your PC or smartphone, you can. Or, you can switch over to accessing email through the Google Gmail web interface. You will still access webmail through the Email and Calendar tile in the SSU Online Services portal.
  2. Calendars - Calendars cannot be individually migrated until we cutover our sonoma.edu domain on the weekend that we schedule everyone to migrate. There is flexibility on which calendar app you choose to use and how to grant other users access to your calendar. Please check the FAQ page for details (coming soon).
  3. Storage - Level 1 data should NOT be placed in the Google Cloud due to security risks.
    1. Individual Storage for your personal files - Each user is already provided with an online storage area, so you can immediately use this and begin migrating your personal files from Box to Google.
    2. Team Drive storage for your departmentally shared files - Contact your Geo support staff or the IT Help Desk (664-HELP) and request a Team Drive now. You can begin migrating your departmental storage immediately, and can request assistance as necessary.
  4. Security - Spam filtering will be provided by Google and suspect email will be placed in your “Spam” folder. Level 1 data should NOT be placed in the Google Cloud due to security risks. We anticipate the Google's spam filter to stop a larger quantity of spam from entering into your email box than you currently experience.
  5. Contacts - Contacts from Exchange will automatically be migrated on the day your email is migrated.
  6. Things we cannot migrate - Delegates you have previously provided access to, your current email rules, and any mail forwarding that was previously setup, signatures, local email (email that's not visible on the server). Details on how to move or reconfigure the settings will be provided by IT.