University Technology

WIU is moving to Google Apps!

We’re pleased to announce that Western Illinois University has chosen Google Apps for its new email and calendar platform. University Technology has been working on the migration and is looking forward to moving students and employees from Zimbra to the new services in the coming months. We'll begin with a group of "early adopters" and then continue phasing in the services with additional groups.

What’s Google Apps?

Google Apps is a suite of web-based messaging and collaboration applications that Google hosts on its own servers. Google provides these applications as a service, rather than as software to download and install. To access Google Apps, you simply use a web browser on a computer that's connected to the Internet or your smart device.

For a quick overview of Google Apps and why we’re so excited about the switch, check out this video!

Why did we choose Google Apps?

In March 2014, a proposal to implement Google Apps at the University was submitted through WIU's IT Governance process. The basis of this proposal was to save the University money by using Google Apps to host our email and calendar, while at the same time offering more services such as unlimited drive space, shared folders that can be set up by individuals, a superior interface, real-time collaboration (Google Docs), and alumni life-time WIU email addresses. The proposal went before WIU's Student Government Association, Faculty Senate, and the IT Governance Administration Alliance for review and feedback. In November 2015, a task force comprised of individuals from across the University formally recommended that the University implement Google Apps. It was reviewed and approved by the President's Leadership Team in early February 2016 and University Technology has been directed to begin the transition.

What are some of the benefits of switching?
  • Lower infrastructure costs — Our email will be stored securely on Google's servers, so we'll no longer need to maintain email servers on-site
  • Ability to consolidate our platforms — We can eliminate redundancy by moving all of our email and calendar platforms to Google Apps
  • Innovative solutions — We can leverage the ongoing creative and technical solutions of the Google Apps platform to provide students and employees with powerful, easy-to-use tools for getting their work done
  • Highly scalable environment — With Google Apps, our email capacity will grow automatically as our University grows, and we'll avoid the complexity of internal systems
  • Access to services from anywhere, anytime — A key benefit of the Google-hosted solution is that we can access email, contacts, and calendar from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world
  • More collaboration features — With Google's next-generation applications, we can collaborate with classmates, colleagues, and partners more easily and efficiently than ever before
  • Instant messaging — Because Google Apps includes Hangouts, we can now implement an instant messaging system for the entire University.

What does Google Apps include?

Your new Google Apps account will include the following services:

What We Think You Will Enjoy

  • Lots of storage: You get unlimited online storage for your email (much more than the 1 or 2 GB limits people start with now), so you can archive all of your email online. You'll no longer need to worry about deleting messages or saving them in offline folders.
  • Enhanced message organization and retrieval: With Gmail, you'll spend less time managing folders and looking for messages. Use tags, or "labels," to organize, store, and find your messages more efficiently. And with the Google-powered search feature, you can find any message quickly and easily, whether it's in your Inbox or stored in your message archives.
  • Easier calendar sharing: Google Calendar lets you and your team members quickly and easily share your calendars with each other and specify the details you want to show. Calendar sharing is a great way for you and your coworkers to keep each other informed about your schedules. Now it's easier than ever to find out if someone is in a meeting, on a business trip, or on vacation.
  • Better mailing lists: With Google Groups, you can manage your own subscriptions to mailing lists—called groups—without the need to make requests to uTech. You can even create your own groups for your projects, teams, special-interest groups, and more. Not only do groups make it easier to send email and calendar invitations to groups of people but they also simplify sharing documents, files, sites, and more. You can even use groups to create full-featured discussion forums.
  • Integrated chat and video-conferencing: With Google Hangouts, you can communicate instantly with your coworkers right from Gmail, as a chat or video-conference. You can set your chats to be automatically saved in Gmail, so you can always retrieve important information.
  • File storage and sharing: With Google Drive, you can store just about any type of file, open it and work on it right in your web browser, and quickly invite others to work or view it. You can access Drive from any smart device.
  • Real-time collaboration: Using Google Docs, you can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and you and your team members can view and edit them at the same time. You can still use your Microsoft Office products, but now you'll have more options for storing and collaborating on your documents.
  • Easy-to-build team web sites: With Google Sites, your project team can quickly publish an internal web site with shared information, such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations, files, and videos. You can even embed Google calendars and other gadgets (applications) on your site.

We think you'll enjoy your new Google Apps services, and we're committed to making this a smooth transition. More information to follow soon!

uTech

University Technology
Support Center: (309) 298-2704 / support@wiu.edu
Steve Frazier, Chief Information Officer: (309) 298-4500 / SL-Frazier@wiu.edu