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Why Google Apps is winning IT hearts and minds

Jon Gold | March 20, 2014
Google's cloudy productivity package is making inroads everywhere – including many Microsoft Office shops.

"Going Google on such a large scale has many benefits. We gained reliability and security compared to our prior configuration of Microsoft Exchange servers, which required extensive upkeep, upgrades and patches," he wrote.

The State of Maryland had similar problems, according to deputy CIO Greg Urban.

"We had 55, 60 different [email] systems in the state every department was running their own email system, essentially," he said.This disjointed user base made even the most trivial tasks a headache, he added. For instance, a simple welcome email to all state employees had to go out to each of the dozens of separate email lists used by all the agencies.

"The governor has an open house every year," says Urban. "[And] it was a huge effort to get a mailing list full of mailing lists [together] to get to all the people."

Unlike most other institutional Google Apps users, the state of Maryland elected to make the transition to the new system entirely on its own - eschewing the usual practice of hiring professional consultants.

Urban says that the idea was to force IT staffers to learn the nuts-and-bolts of Google Apps as they went."They [Google] thought we were crazy at first," he says. "They joke that we'd be one of the better Google partners if we weren't a state agency. We do have so much knowledge of the product and its capabilities."

Google has itself been a good partner, according to Urban.

"They're not making it up as they go along," he says. "It's a very robust, well-run infrastructure, and the feature sets just roll out. You get new features and that's great, because we find, in our state government environment, you end up with a lot of old stuff."

 

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