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Yale Switching To Gmail, Not Without Opposition

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the maybe-schools-should-not-be-isps dept.

Communications 439

PwnSnake writes "While it makes sense for small (and large) corporations to move to Gmail, something seems amiss when a top private university decides to hand everything over to Google. Although most in that community seem to welcome the change, several organizations on campus have joined forces to call for a transparent process and get students and faculty thinking about the downsides of the switch. The problem is choice (users can already forward mail to Gmail; it doesn't make sense to force that option and not have a backup or opt-out mail server)."

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chillaxinate, broheims (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126200)

Anyone still afraid of things like this needs to chillax.

Ugh, nerds.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126206)

Anyone ignorant of the possible problems of things like this need to become educated.

Ugh, idiots.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (1, Flamebait)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126358)

Anyone ignorant of the possible problems of things like this need to become educated.

Go on, give us a few. Avoid ones that are easily mitigated.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126408)

Anybody doing any sort of human research, say from the medicine, biomedical and psychology faculties, shouldn't be using GMail, because it involves sending privileged information to a third party corporation and, in this case, a corporation that has a vested interest in using the information they're gathering.

Outside of that, many people like to protect their own privacy.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126436)

Nothing a legal agreement can't handle. How secure do you think your local email system is? How many admins are there? How many contractors roll in and out? If you want to protect your privacy, only use cash, cover your face when you go out side, never look up, always wear gloves, always rent, move every 23 days, etc...

Give me a break.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126438)

Of course anyone doing that kind of work should not use unencrypted email in the first place, but still, traffic patterns can't be avoided even with end-to-end encryption and they can be revealing sometimes.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126448)

Let me fix that for you:

Anybody doing any sort of human research, say from the medicine, biomedical and psychology faculties, shouldn't be using EMAIL, because it involves sending privileged information over an insecure medium.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (1)

ravenmoon (106766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126456)

Anybody sending that type of data should not be using email, period. It doesn't matter if you're hosting it locally or in the cloud, it is an insecure transport.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126778)

I'd imagine lots of organisations are using email where their clients only communicate with the mail server using SSL (either via webmail or SSL encryption of standard transports like IMAP and SMTP or MAPI).

Those organisations may well treat their internal email as being secure. I believe there are plenty of hospitals use email to send patient information between DRs and staff. I'd expect they only do so because they consider their internal email to be secure.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (5, Insightful)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126732)

I work for a higher-ed institution, and we recently provided a university-sponsored GMail option. We heard this issue about sending private data via GMail, from some folks in our health departments.

Our response was: why are you emailing anything with private data in it!?

Email of any kind, whether run locally at the department level, institution-wide at the central IT level, or outsourced to someplace like Google ... Email is an inherently insecure transport method. You don't send private data over the Internet. Period.

So, let me amend your statement:

Anybody doing any sort of human research, say from the medicine, biomedical and psychology faculties, shouldn't be using email, because it involves sending privileged information over the Internet.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126490)

A University shouldn't be handing students rights of privacy without their consent. If the contract with google prevents any data harvesting for use outside the University and provides separate server and storage infrastructure, I wouldn't have issue with gmail being used. There are things emailed that shouldn't be emailed because many people don't think of it as a postcard.

I like outsourced solutions. I simply dislike when the solution providers are less than clear what they are doing beyond what the client requested when it could do harm in the future.

Google could easily solve my issues by placing a disclaimer on all outbound email from their services clearly stating how they analyze all traffic, emails, and attachment content for use in advertising. Simple enough. Then only the people stupid enough to email anyone with a gmail.com address are screwed. I won't do it. I've lost email communication with a few friends over them going to gmail. I call them instead to leave a long message.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (-1, Troll)

tcr (39109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126410)

Maybe you can educate me how to fold my tinfoil hat properly.
Habeas corpus, fool.
Insightful... meh.

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126514)

Anyone ignorant of the possible problems of things like this need to become educated.

Ugh, idiots.

Google Apps for Education currently provides e-mail services to more than 2,000 colleges and universities, including Brown, Northwestern, Cornell, Notre Dame and Georgetown.

Perhaps you believe that the decision makers at these universities are not educated? Perhaps You are not?

Comments like the one above, offered without any supporting evidence or even arguement and that receieve a 4 for insightful really highlight the weakness of this forum.

Ugh, IDIOT,

Re:chillaxinate, broheims (1)

pizzap (1253052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126304)

Yes, outsourcing your infrastructure to a private company is always "chillaxing". It keeps the costs down, users don't pick up on service quality and in-house experience and development is unwanted.

Having gone there... (5, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126212)

I was a grad student there, and most of the people I knew hated the Horde webmail interface. I practically never used it, since I've always set up IMAP.

My current university also outsources most of their student e-mail services to Google... again, I almost always access it through IMAP. The main downside I've run into is that the university version of Gmail doesn't have access to Labs features that you get with regular Gmail.

Re:Having gone there... (4, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126290)

My old college didn't even expose imap or pop (Nor could I implement forwarding). You HAD to use their horrid web interface. It led to the accounts never being checked. While there are concerns over gmail, it does open up quite a bit of flexibility.

Re:Having gone there... (1)

pizzap (1253052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126314)

Horde is the main reason why no one likes university email systems and institutes switch to ms exchange and google/yahoo. Hordes 'new' ajax frontend looks better, though.

Re:Having gone there... (2, Informative)

Enforcer-99 (1407855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126484)

You are wrong - the University version DOES have Labs - they just need to turn it on. Google Apps for Education allows for centralized control of labs features.

Same but... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126518)

Google's IMAP implementation is horrible, to the point of only barely being usable. I get frequent IMAP errors regarding folders not being found, even when the folders are being reported by the server -- and I am not the only one. Google has been aware of these problems for years now and done absolutely nothing about it.

Of course, my main objective to universities switching to Google has nothing to do with functionality. GMail is proprietary software, and universities should not be locking themselves into solutions provided by specific corporations. Hey, maybe I am just too much of a free software guy, but if nobody voices the concern...

Re:Same but... (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126658)

Of course, my main objective to universities switching to Google has nothing to do with functionality. GMail is proprietary software, and universities should not be locking themselves into solutions provided by specific corporations. Hey, maybe I am just too much of a free software guy, but if nobody voices the concern...

Even if they used free software. You'd still be trusting anyone Google trusts with your email.

Re:Having gone there... (0)

allknowingfrog (1661721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126728)

My college actually switched to Gmail recently. The only real problem I've had is that Google confuses my college Gmail calendar with my regular Gmail account. I still haven't figured out how that's even possible.

Re:Having gone there... (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126796)

I was a grad student there, and most of the people I knew hated the Horde webmail interface. I practically never used it, since I've always set up IMAP.

Kids these days. When I was at school, everyone used Pine and we were content.

Gmail also occasionally goes down (1)

PiAndWhippedCream (1566727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126226)

It only happens sometimes, but it could bring a university to a grinding halt. And give a LOT of people a very bad 2.5 hours.

Re:Gmail also occasionally goes down (1, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126240)

They're still more reliable than anything most other people can accomplish.

Re:Gmail also occasionally goes down (4, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126354)

Tell me, please: what is almost impossible about running a distributed mail server cluster for a few tens of thousands of users and 100% cluster uptime? This has been a common achievement implemented using VAXclusters in academia since the '80s, so I'm curious as to what's gone wrong with engineering ability since then.

I get this impression sometimes that people think 100% availability via "cloud" distributed computing is an invention of this century. The only thing that's new is assuming that all but a few large corporations are sufficiently competent to do something that local IT was expected to do: then with expensive, hard-to-replace machines.

Re:Gmail also occasionally goes down (1)

PiAndWhippedCream (1566727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126452)

I can count the number of times my college's mail system has expirenced downtime since I've been here (full disclosure: Sophmore) on one hand. Every time it has happened, I got an email telling me about it at least 24 hours in advance.

That is far better than gmail's track record.

Re:Gmail also occasionally goes down (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126558)

It's pretty easy to create a robust mail server cluster.

It's significantly more difficult to do it at the price Google is offering.

Re:Gmail also occasionally goes down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126744)

My university was using Horde on a Vax of some sort (not sure what) up until recently when they switched to Microsoft (without, as far as I can tell - and I've asked - evaluating any other solutions). Regular downtime, recurrent quota problems (you had to login to VMS and then do a purge and remove other left over files by hand), poor spam filtering and other problems, including security. I'm not at all sure things are better now (being a linux user and therefore unable to experience the "full 32 bit email experience"- that's what they told us, Mac users also don't get that), but they weren't good.

Re:Gmail also occasionally goes down (4, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126766)

It's called outsourcing, contractors and management.

I work at a University that has recently outsourced their student e-mail to GMail. The University IT group has really bad management. There is a CIO, 3 Vice Presidents and 5 directors for an IT group roughly 300 people with 70% of them being contractors. Each group within the IT group (Exchange, Unix, NT, Mail, Helpdesk, Networking...) has their own 1 or 2 managers.

Of course when it's time to look for a solution, the contractors love to propose their 'appliances' and 'do-it-all software' with 'vendors' and 'partners' because their contracting companies are being sponsored by those companies. That's why we have Exchange with Quest Extensions ($25000/server for a piece of software that only SHOWS the flow of e-mail on a pretty screen), NetApp storage at $5/GB/year, PeopleSoft, Microsoft SMS/WSUS with Quest Extensions (so you can attempt to use WSUS on a Mac bound to Active Directory and Novell Linux bound to Active Directory - Solaris and Debian what's that), some random companies DHCP server appliances - $2500 for a piece of hardware that only does DHCP based on the open source dhcpd, a paid version of SysLog (the actual open source syslog-ng software) with licensing based on logs per hour.

Management thinks that this is normal and the way to do business. Of course their overhead is so large that hardly anybody uses their services as it is cheaper to get your own sysadmin and invest in hardware. So University IT supports about 20 of the smallest departments - those that are too small to pay for a single sysadmin, they need about 200 people to do that job (the other 100 are in networking, server admins and telephone)

Oh Yale, not Yale. (0, Offtopic)

Bottles (1672000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126234)

A first I thought this was about the lock manufacturer.

Now a whole slew of lock-picking jokes are consigned to oblivion. :(

Even puns about keys.

Damn you.

Re:Oh Yale, not Yale. (0, Redundant)

Starayo (989319) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126278)

So we've lost the... Key to our humour?

Call a locksmith!

University IT thinks it's 1994 (4, Informative)

gravos (912628) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126236)

God, I wish my university would do this. We have 40MB account limits and professors routinely send out 10MB worth of attachments. Sure, you can forward it all to gmail (and who doesn't), but don't forget to delete your mail off the university's shitty server once a week or you'll get everything bounced!

Re:University IT thinks it's 1994 (2, Interesting)

bbqsrc (1441981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126252)

I don't know how much space my university email account is meant to be able to hold, but I have it forward and delete on arrival of any mail, so no issue for me.

But, I do feel sorry for the people who still use the interface: it's a freaking Java applet :<

It almost certainly isn't the IT dept (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126466)

The IT dept will have a budget. That budget is set by whoever controls the finances. If the person controlling the finances thinks you are only worth 40Mb of storage, then that's all the IT dept will give you.

If you want more, then bitch to whomever controls the finances. There is almost certainly no point bitching to IT because they can only go to the finance people and say give us more money. The people controlling the money aren't feeling the pain so why should they spend the money?

BTW, this isn't just for IT. This is any organisation, government or private.

 

Re:University IT thinks it's 1994 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126492)

Sounds like it's more of a problem with your professors. PhDs are famous for being very, very intelligent about a very specific topic, but oblivious to common sense practices outside of their field of study. How hard would it be for them to upload the attachments to the university's servers, and provide links on their class web page? What kind of sadist sends 10MB attachments?

This is the real world of research (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126590)

What kind of sadist sends 10MB attachments?

Anybody doing research.

Seriously, I've had 30MB attachments show up. 10MB is nothing when you're talking about a research paper written in MS Word.

Before you tell us how they should be using a magical free alternative to Word that produces tiny files yet has all the same capabilities, these papers have to be read by management types at the sponsoring organizations (often the Federal government) so sending them anything other than a Word document is out.

Re:This is the real world of research (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126788)

Oh, word will work just fine for most things - but you still have to know how to embed images properly. Large files are still large files, but at that point the proper way to deal with them is to use a server to host the file, not actually send it as an attachment.

I can understand the issue though. With the need for Windows to move closer to the Apple paradigm of hiding everything about a file from the user except the given name, people have stopped looking at their data before they send it. Actually, I should amend that - the number of people who look at their data has remained the same since 1980, but the number of users has ballooned. By sheer volume, the people who have no clue have dominated the landscape.

Nobody would print out their 100 research photographs on 18x24 sheets of photographic paper, staple it to the text pages, then try to fold it up and mail it in a #10 envelope, but that's what they do with email - simply because it's not obvious to the end user.

There's nothing wrong with Word. The problem is that people don't know enough about the process.

Re:This is the real world of research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126830)

I work for an oceanography organization that has to routinely justify its funding to the federal government, and I can agree with most of this. We routinely have large documents to send back and forth and unless the person has access to our network it has to be attached.

FTP is also an option, unless the person is a complete dullard. FTP is the only option for the binary data files that are over 100MB routinely.

Re:University IT thinks it's 1994 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126540)

God, I wish my university would do this. We have 40MB account limits and professors routinely send out 10MB worth of attachments.

You're off by a decade. 40MB account limits were more the norm in 2004. In 1994, you were fairly privileged to get 128kbps access in most places, even on campus.

Re:University IT thinks it's 1994 (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126582)

He's obviously speaking about storage, not bandwidth. I definitely had a 20MB quota on my account back then.

Re:University IT thinks it's 1994 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126632)

I'm talking about storage, too. Do the math and tell me how long it would take to download 40MB of mail on a 128kbps connection, or better yet, a 56.6kbps dialup connection (which was new technology at the time) and tell me if it would've made sense to have mailboxes that were so large. IIRC, my email box size at VA Tech was closer to 5MB in 1994.

Re:University IT thinks it's 1994 (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126676)

We have 40MB account limits and professors routinely send out 10MB worth of attachments.

Maybe the problem is with those sending the attachments. Especially if they are sending the same thing to multiple people at once...

News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (3, Informative)

fedorfedor (838521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126256)

Whatever they decide to do, some people are going to complain. The gmail-based service lets people use POP and IMAP so they can use a different UI if they want. So you've got real flexibility, and a default UI that (in most people's opinions) doesn't suck. So... what was the problem again?

Does Google pay for this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126292)

I too want to make a living astroturfing. Where do I apply?

but you can atleast be transparent (1)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126340)

At least, they should openly specify the reasons why they chose Google.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (5, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126368)

If you bothered to read the second link (like that'd happen but whatever), it isn't as much a staunch "we never want to use Gmail" as a request for more transparency/information about what the agreements and options being discussed/setup by Yale's IT administration and Google. It includes requests for more information on such things as where the data is going to be stored, why Google is 'generously' providing this service free of charge and without advertisements (i.e., how much privacy/rights do you have with your e-mails), what happens if Google changes their mind down the road and wants to start charging Yale, and a few other similar concerns.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (4, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126398)

It includes requests for more information on such things as where the data is going to be stored, why Google is 'generously' providing this service free of charge and without advertisements (i.e., how much privacy/rights do you have with your e-mails)

Privacy concerns for Google apps in general are addressed here:
http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762 [google.com]

It always amazes me when people talk as if people are Google are casually browsing through your email, gossiping about your personal secrets.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126526)

It's easy to make a web page and fill it with fancy promises. It's just as easy to violate those same promises, especially when basically nobody will know you're doing it.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (1, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126576)

If you're just going to assume everyone is lying, then you'd better never buy anything from anyone.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126620)

I looked at that FAQ, and it says that Google employees will never have access to your email unless access is explicitly grated by your admin. It also says, in the same answer, that Google employees may delete things which violate their ToS, which seems to directly contradict this (how can they delete things without write access, how can they know it violates the ToS without read access?). The answer about whether they complied with EU data protection laws was a very round-about way of saying 'no'.

What did I not see on that page:

  • Who is performing third party security audits (no one?).
  • What internal policies and security measures Google has in place to prevent their employees accessing the data.
  • How these policies are enforced.
  • What legal guarantee Google offers of your privacy and what compensation they offer in cases of a breach.

It always amazes me when people read a puff-piece full of buzzwords and devoid of any content, yet come away completely reassured.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126754)

Privacy concerns for Google apps in general are addressed here: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762 [google.com]

That's what Google claim is the case. Is there actually an entity of the planet that exclusivly follows their published polices.

It always amazes me when people talk as if people are Google are casually browsing through your email, gossiping about your personal secrets.

The kind of people who are interested in finding out secrets are rarely doing so randomly. They are more likely to be interested finding people who are doing X, are a member of group Y, etc

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126418)

... and on "why offer it for free".

Google's reasons for offering Google Apps for Education as a free service are their own. But we can guess.

1: Many university students are going to become high fliers in business. Giving them warm-and-fuzzy feelings about Google Apps is building the long term market for Google Apps.

2: Education is a "good cause". Maybe someone in Google just likes the idea of helping good causes. Or more cynically, it's good PR.

Re:News flash: you'll never make everyone happy. (3, Insightful)

gollito (980620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126840)

Another reason they offer it free is the same reason Microsoft gives their software away to educational institutions: The student is much more likely to continue to use the product after they graduate.

They Need To (3, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126270)

When I was with their dept of psychiatry at the med school, they had terrible problems with constantly infected and reinfecting machines, both theirs and customers'. They had good admins, but couldn't keep up. With email farmed out, perhaps they can tackle the problem now.

Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126276)

Why is everybody always trying to put all eggs in one basket? Can't the university simply register an email address of choice for everyone? If you don't want to run your own mail service, that's fine, but then don't fake it by selling everyone out to a single commercial provider. Besides, it's a deplorable state of affairs when a university can't muster the resources to at least operate an on-site forwarding mail server.

Re:Monopoly (2, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126312)

Besides, it's a deplorable state of affairs when a university can't muster the resources to at least operate an on-site forwarding mail server.

According to TFA, it's going to save 12GB of on site storage per student. If I was a university IT manager and a corporation offered me that *for free*, I'd bite their hand off.

Whoever you are, why spend money when there's an alternative?

Re:Monopoly (2, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126378)

It's not free. As you point out, Google is a corporation and they don't do things unless they expect to get something out of it. What Google is getting is a LOT of information about Yale students, staff and faculty.

Re:Monopoly (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126464)

They mine it for ad targeting. And that's all.

I think the main things they get out of it is PR, and graduates with a positive experience of Google Apps.

Re:Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126404)

1500GB cost about $110, so 12GB cost less than a dollar. Let's say you pay ten times as much because you can't run bare hard disks and you need backup space too. That still boils down to about 25ct per student and month if you replace the storage every three years. How much is tuition at Yale?

Besides, a forwarding-only mail server doesn't need nearly as much storage and would allow Yale to give everyone a yale.edu mail address without locking everybody into a single mail provider.

Choice is good.

Re:Monopoly (1)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126442)

Here's the thing : As a student or faculity of the university, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in things like email. Email has become the major communications tool of this era. By switching to a 3rd party service like Google, that expectation of privacy goes out the window. If two faculity are working on a research project, there is no gaurentee that Google won't have one of their 'snafu's again where they expose your private email to others or the world. Remeber, research is what really powers the dollars for schools like Yale -- and an issue with exposed or leaked emails could cause the university millions.

Giving this up to a 3rd party runs into the "your data" vs. "my data" type of senerio. Your shit vs. my stuff in the words of George Carlin. If there is a privacy breech, and you run the email server, you know who to contact, you make the correction immediatly, and you deal with it. When a 3rd party company like Google has an issue, they "look into it", and rarely take the same steps to correct the issue. We've already seen that once when email was being delivered to students that the wrong university!

Yet, they are saving a dollar. It makes some IT manager's issues go away for not having to run yet another critical service.

Re:Monopoly (1)

Kizeh (71312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126544)

Not sure what your expectations are, or what the policy of your school is, but in any sort of litigation or suspicion of academic malfeasance, or even internal disputes within departments it's been my experience that just as in most corporations your university email is fair game and not covered by anything like the protections of third-party email or regular mail.

Re:Monopoly (1)

slugstone (307678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126564)

Privacy in Email? Please, It is all plain text.

Re:Monopoly (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126524)

Whoever was quoted on the 12GB storage savings per student was making up information. I would like an explanation of how 2GB email quota per student -- not measured usage -- becomes 12GB of storage; even including tape backups. If this statistic is true, the storage architecture for Yale email has been designed by an incompetent idiot. Explains why Yale has to outsource email.

Re:Monopoly (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126504)

I think you misunderstand what a monopoly is. Or you're being wilfully broad with the word.

There is nothing to stop anyone else offering a competing service. To be able to offer it free, they'd probably need to be another giant corporation - but MS, Yahoo, IBM could all do this if they wanted to.

There is no lock-in on Google's side.

Re:Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126570)

You're a student at Yale. Your choices for email service are: 1) GMail. 2) n.a.

That looks like a monopoly to me.

Re:Monopoly (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126656)

As opposed to now, when your choices for email are 1) Yale's in-house email 2) n/a

Except that in both cases, there's nothing to stop you using any of the other webmail services, either free or paid.

Re:Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126702)

If you're a student at Yale using a yale.edu email address, that is to be expected, isn't it? Google is one of many external mail providers and it isn't right to preclude that choice. When push comes to shove, privacy policies mean nothing. Where the email is actually physically stored matters.

Re:Monopoly (2, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126774)

1) GMail. 2) n.a.

3) Chose another university.

Seriously. The university chose the food management company, the cleaning contractors, and the security guard service. They also chose the e-mail contractors.

Like the undergrads care about e-mail privacy while they're simultaneously posting their frat party pictures to FB.

In other news (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126280)

Harvard, just to spite Yale, has switched its mail system over to Yahoo! Mail. Also, 3 MIT students are currently being investigated for breaking into the accounts of the presidents of both universities and sending out notices to their entire university saying that the cafeteria systems at their universities had recently added a free bar.

Open University also switching (2, Informative)

GuerillaRadio (818889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126284)

My university is also switching [open.ac.uk] to not just gmail, but integrating the other Google apps also.

Buzz? (1, Flamebait)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126294)

Maybe someone better informed than I could say whether or not if using Gmail corporate services would also expose you to randomly-applied 'great ideas' such as the screwup that is Buzz?
I would hope not...

Welcome to "gov"mail (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126310)

Government mail, now with 100% legal links to the NSA.
You would think Yale having all the Skull and Bones types someone would know about not trusting mail servers.
After China are the terms "off-site" and Google "maintain it" of any real use to US academia?

FireGPG (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126384)

You don't like your email being read by someone else? Then why are you sending it as a postcard? And if you don't care about that then who cares if Google reads it and sells the information to advertisers?

FireGPG and others make encrypting webmail easy, and PGP/GPG and SMIME have been integrated into most mail clients for years.

 

Re:FireGPG (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126458)

The main problem with encrypted email is that it's not enough to set up your own account for it. Also your recipient has to be set up for it. And you are often not in the position where you can demand it.

Wrong premise (1)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126586)

Company-internal mail that needs to remain confidential needs not be encrypted -- as long as the company's mail servers remain within the company. Move your mail to google, and suddenly google knows you're getting a rise before you know it. Oh well, some people will call it a good thing if they're getting job offers before they learn that they're going to get laid off. Too bad though that the job offers will be for male escorts or something, as google also knows the reason why you're about to get laid off.

Re:Wrong premise (1)

tom1974 (413939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126814)

That's assuming all company mail is routed within the company's network or over vpn.

Re:FireGPG (1)

gollito (980620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126858)

You don't like your email being read by someone else? Then why are you sending it as a postcard? And if you don't care about that then who cares if Google reads it and sells the information to advertisers?

FireGPG and others make encrypting webmail easy, and PGP/GPG and SMIME have been integrated into most mail clients for years.

But can that be done from the web interface? Most users will NOT use a third party app and simply use the web interface.

Re:Welcome to "gov"mail (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126462)

As to the Skull and Bones thing, I know its not very "geek" to be into the whole fraternity scene, but Skull and Bones is probably just a much less Democratic version of any Greek fraternity, including the one I was in. In those types of organizations, they exist mainly on the basis that you don't keep secrets from your brothers, and I can assume that with a fraternity that boasts Senators, Presidents and CIA directors, not only are they well aware of what goes on with this type of deal, but that there is at least a gentlemen's agreement among them as to who can get at their little brother's data.

I don't think the Skull and Bones people need to be worried, and if half the paranoid hype about them is true, then they probably don't give a rats ass about the privacy of anyone not in their clique. Just sayin'.

Re:Welcome to "gov"mail (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126512)

You think Yale wouldn't give data off their own on-site servers to the NSA, if they came waving court orders?

Up in arms? Really? (2, Interesting)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126348)

It's a service. Just like the phone company, janitorial services, accounting, and insurance.

The students and faculty don't clamor for input and transparency on which payroll company the university uses to issue paychecks and work/study payments, and there's something they use every day. Sounds to me like this is a lesson to be learned for a bunch of college brats who can't adjust to change.

All your mail are belong to us... and the rest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126400)

The technical quality of the email service they provide is one thing, but the storage of so many people's emails by one company, with access to the content, is quite another.

The more that people use the same email service, the more that service will appear to be a target for the NSA and big business. Those organisations won't have to hack into the data; they will simply have to sign contracts, and Google will be glad of the money.

Say goodbye to anonymity. From now on everything you do will be logged, correlated and used to predict what you will do next - before you know it yourself.

Of course, if you are a cud chewing milch cow, you won't see a problem because you will enjoy the sensation you experience in the milking parlour as big business fondles your teets, but for the rest of us, it is a problem.

Good on them (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126416)

I work at a large University considering the same thing. I like the idea. A couple of points.

* Just forwarding is not the same as having a hosted solution. Branding is important, and Colleges/Universities don't want to give that up.

* The answer to people's privacy concerns is the same as it's ever been. Privacy is the end-user's responsibility. SMTP has never been, and will never be, a private communication protocol. Recall the recent survey indicating that some 30% of sysadmins admit to violating people's privacy. Encrypt your messages, if that's important to you.

* Show me a privately hosted email solution that allows you to easily manage multiple gigabytes of storage per user.

* Email is a commodity. It's uninteresting, from a competitive practices point of view - but everyone must have it. The easier and cheaper, the better.

* You can continue using pretty much any email client you like.

A step forward (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126428)

Not the only university to do this. My university in Dublin (Trinity College) also switched to gmail and it was met with overwhelming support from students and staff alike. POP, IMAP or web interface that most were used to and that new users welcomed, reduced spam (95% of college mail being spam and exchange filters not catching more than 50% of it), higher level of storage, easier external access, bigger attachments. Overall it was an easy transition and a reduced workload for the syadmins. The only initial problem was different passwords for network access and email, which DOES make a difference for less technical students such as those in arts and letters faculties. Overall it was a step forward with a positive reception from staff, students and sysadmins. Good luck to Yale and let's give it 6 months or so, then poll each of those groups to see if they prefer the gmail way or the old way.

No problems involving choice (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126482)

You can go to Yale, or you can NOT go to Yale.

Re:No problems involving choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126722)

Actually, no. You probably can't go to Yale.

Why University Mail Anyway? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126496)

Back in the 90's, it made sense for Universities to create a mail service -- many students had no other access to email in those days. But why today, when there are so many free email options? There is really no good reason for Colleges to be in this business, and it totally makes sense to turn it over to Google or some other company that will do it for free. We did a study at our University and found the cost savings to be in the range of $500,000 per year, which actually is money that some people felt they could use elsewhere :) (This argument may not apply to University employees, such as faculty -- it may be prudent to provide an in-house or contracted email service for this small group, but at a fraction of the cost required for the entire student body)

Horde is garbage (2, Informative)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126542)

Horde is pure, utter shite, obviously written by weekend PHP developers with short attention spans, and wouldn't know a decently-designed user interface if it jumped up and bit them in the face.

The university I went to used (and probably still does) use it. It's a pain to use, and a pain to administer.

What's so hard about writing a decent Web email client anyway?

Nothing amiss about it (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126554)

Lots of colleges and universities are switching over to Google. The reasons are pretty straightforward: Google offers more storage space than most higher ed IT departments could reasonably afford and the move relieves them of the need to administer an email server. See this article [networkcomputing.com] for an overview. Even Hope, in Taco's home town, switched over a couple years back and I know they've been pretty happy with it.

short sighted (1, Interesting)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126606)

It is a bad idea to hand over email responsibilities to an external company:
  • A university email is often used as a verification that a person is affiliated with the place. This is useful for example for site licences.
  • Google could change privacy settings in the future. Imagine that external parties could buy lists of "names" or "grades".
  • Once hooked, it is difficult to switch back. Once, the IT culture has been outsourced, also the IT talent has disappeared and higher education becomes dependent on external companies.
  • There is a lot of research and confidential information going over email. If I were a researcher working in a cutting edge field, I would be worried to have information about the projects safe.
  • Google delivers now. Will it in 10 years? What happens if Sergey and Larry have moved on completely and accountants eying primarily the stock market have taken over? It might become more expensive for a university in the future. Or, due to lack of other possibilities, one is forced to accept a partner which is less careful about privacy settings.
  • A lot of students and faculty already use gmail now. But they do not have to. If somebody wants, it is possible to have all benefits from external email providers. Why force it?
  • Some redundancy is nice. Its can be beneficial to have different email addresses and use them for different things. If one provider does not deliver, one can use an other one. Being forced to use an external email provider leave less options and adds more dependencies.

Inline answers (1)

KingArthur10 (679328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126836)

* A university email is often used as a verification that a person is affiliated with the place. This is useful for example for site licences.

All university email addresses through Gmail also have .edu addresses.

* Google could change privacy settings in the future. Imagine that external parties could buy lists of "names" or "grades".

As with any contract, if a company decides to change its policies, you can renegotiate or go with another. Other companies (aka Microsoft et al) will have migration solutions.

* Once hooked, it is difficult to switch back. Once, the IT culture has been outsourced, also the IT talent has disappeared and higher education becomes dependent on external companies.

You outsource phone, mail, construction, and other services. Once it is outsourced, it will actually be fairly easy to migrate to another solution. Plus, with the savings from getting rid of parts of the IT staff and infrastructure costs, you'll be able to afford consultations with more money on top.

* There is a lot of research and confidential information going over email. If I were a researcher working in a cutting edge field, I would be worried to have information about the projects safe.

There is a lot of confidential information going through the snail mail system, cell phone towers, and the regular phone system. All in all, seeing incompetence of a lot of university IT staffs, I would trust a company whose core business is to keep your information safe more than the local IT staff.

* Google delivers now. Will it in 10 years? What happens if Sergey and Larry have moved on completely and accountants eying primarily the stock market have taken over? It might become more expensive for a university in the future. Or, due to lack of other possibilities, one is forced to accept a partner which is less careful about privacy settings.

Again, like any utility, there are options.

* A lot of students and faculty already use gmail now. But they do not have to. If somebody wants, it is possible to have all benefits from external email providers. Why force it?

Cost savings that can be applied elsewhere, .edu address associated with your gmail, the ability to migrate seamlessly from your .edu address to a alumni address.

* Some redundancy is nice. Its can be beneficial to have different email addresses and use them for different things. If one provider does not deliver, one can use an other one. Being forced to use an external email provider leave less options and adds more dependencies.

Being forced to have all of your information going through the university mail servers provides the same issue. I've seen outages at the university level that would shame a corporation. Outages do happen, but a company like Google has the expertise and resources to resolve it quickly.

reasons why gmail isn't the best idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126622)

I'm an IT manager at a major University.

okay... so the thing is, everyone loves gmail. They love it because it's a pretty, intuitive interface, they have good spam filtering, it's free, plenty of storage, hugely distributed servers for good and reliable performance, nifty features, lots of happy fun time. Why *wouldn't* you switch your whole IT mail system to gmail?

You wouldn't do it because google's entire business model is based on profiting from the content of your data. Mining that
data for targeted advertising (yes, even if they're not displaying ads in your gmail, they are mining your data for useful stuff to sell to advertisers), gleaning useful tidbits about your behavior and buying practices, etc., etc. They *own*
the content of your email.

If you are working on potentially profitable research, you'd be insane to collaborate on it through google.

If you are handling privacy-sensitive data (such as student records), you'd be insane to communicate that data
through google.

If you are handling any other sensitive information (like passwords to financial accounts, potentially embarrassing
internal memos, career- or relationship- destroying office gossip), you'd be insane to communicate it through google.

GOOGLE READS YOUR EMAIL. When you sign up with google, you AGREE TO LET THEM DO IT FOR FUN AND PROFIT.

They are providing this service for free -- if something goes wrong and they lose a bunch of your data, they'll have
a minor public relations black eye and move on. You'll be out a bunch of valuable data. You can't fire anyone,
you can't take tangible measures to make sure it doesn't happen again (or that it doesn't happen in the first place), etc.

There are lots of reasons NOT to take your IT mail to google. It's mostly about data security, privacy, and accountability.
You are surrendering all of that when you go to google. If those things aren't important to you, then by all means, switch to google.

And I'm not saying this just because I'm not anxious to have my job outsourced. I'm saying it because after 20 years of
being responsible for this sort of data, giving it to google is one of the worst things you could do with it. It's not all about "Easy interface, low cost", but unfortunately anyone who ISN'T responsible for managing the data only sees those two things.

Oh, yeah... and universities don't generally prioritize storage/systems/personnel for student email. TFA talks about saving 12 TB of space, which these days I could install new (and reliably) for well under $10k, if someone was willing to spend the money on it.

If google provided free software to run a webmail system locally, now THAT's something I could get behind. THAT is what
Universities should be trying to get google to provide. Let them provide the interface, and let your local guys set it up and manage the data, keep the storage servers local.

YMMV, especially if your local IT guys just suck. :)

Re:reasons why gmail isn't the best idea (5, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126716)

GOOGLE READS YOUR EMAIL. When you sign up with google, you AGREE TO LET THEM DO IT FOR FUN AND PROFIT.

For any reasonable definition of "read" this is simply not true.

They have a privacy policy. http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html [google.com]

I guess some people are really bothered that a robot picks some keywords out of your mail and updates some stats. I'm not in the least.

Google single handedly failed a course (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126626)

About a year and a semester ago, Temple University in Philadelphia did the same thing, right in the middle of the middle of the semester. Needless to say, this took many people by surprise, including me. The IT staff promised that all our old email would be backed up onto google and that the switchover would be flawless. It wasn't. For me, they did not migrate my emails, meaning that over 3 years of emails were lost. But that wasn't the worst of it. I would receive emails intermittently and many times not at all. No one could receive my outgoing ones, which meant that the work that I had done for a group project was not received by them. Of course I didn't know this at the time, I bought the party line. It was only after the teacher met with me and said that the group complained to him that I hadn't done any work for the group and failed me from the course right there. Now I was ignorant and should have contacted the group to make sure that they received my work but I was ignorant and stupid. It wasn't a problem for me to send emails before, but ever since then, the problems have remained. I use Google services as I would use a poison and in the hopes of understanding it, I will learn how to eradicate it from my life. I have grown to rely on a thing that I despise.

should have complained to dean of your college (3, Interesting)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126852)

If the schools email system failed to properly send your class assignments and you didnt receive emails properly,
you should have contacted the university and appealed your grade. At the very least the university would have
allowed you to retake the class without cost or GPA penalty. You couldnt have been the only person in school this happened to.

You may still be able to appeal if nothing else to just get the F removed from your transcript(I assume to retook the course).
If you kept your emails since then you can print out your email directory where the old emails are missing.

Non-unique. (3, Interesting)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126652)

All of the issues they're clamoring over are completely non-unique. The simple fact that Google is giving Yale their Google Mail service for free is an advantage that cannot be glossed over in one sentence (as these authors did) for the following reasons:

  • It reduces their operating costs and overhead tremendously. Reliable e-mail systems can cost tremendous amounts of money on licensing alone; removing that burden liberates a huge chip on their shoulders.
  • It reduces power consumption, thus reducing monthly costs and increasing eco-friendliness. Yale will probably have a local server on-site which handles backups, but switching to GMail nonetheless allows administrators to either turn off a few servers or reuse them for some other purpose.
  • It makes the lives of sysadmins easier. Working with Exchange, Zimbra or whichever email system they currently have on a full-time basis is not easy pickings. Many awkward things can go awry, and a transition to GMail shifts the onus of responsibility on Google's staff, not theirs.

This doesn't include the fact that no system, regardless of how well it's put together, is immune to the occassional outage. One can argue that administrators don't have much control over fixing an outage on Google's turf, but they have shown consistently that they can get everything back in working order extremely quickly. Plus, being able to manage millions of accounts (which include calendaring and contact storage for almost every account) while retaining extremely reliable levels of uptime is impressive.

I think the only reason why large-scale corporations haven't considered doing the same is to retain compliance. (Legal would never allow it).

IF they switch to Gmail... (1)

dcartman (1744700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126790)

If they switch to Gmail for the Horde servers it will ONLY affect their student population and few outlying departments. The main e-mail and calendaring system at Yale is Exchange. This switch, if it happens, is probably one to free up resources.

Much to do about nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31126822)

University & College servers/email are all hopelessly bad in general and 5 to 10 years behind.
Google is a step up!

We did this (4, Informative)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31126838)

I work for a higher-ed institution that's in the Big Ten. We recently provided GMail on campus, to all faculty, students, and staff. It was a remarkably easy transition for us to make. Here's how we did it:

Opt-in.

Really, that was it. We said, "Here's the GMail system that we arranged through Google and the University. If you want to move to GMail, please do - here's a link to make that happen. If you prefer to remain on the existing University email system, that's fine, we aren't taking that away and we're still committed in supporting the University system."

It's worked out well. As of last week, our overall adoption rate is 26% across faculty and staff (I don't have the student numbers) with several colleges and departments already at 100%. Overall, students opted in very quickly. Our outliers have been staff and faculty - this is likely because moving to GMail is a change, and change can be scary. (Note you can use the web interface, or access GMail using POP/IMAP.)

It's not entirely opt-in, though. Incoming students are not given an option - they'll be issued a University GMail account by default. The goal is that over the next 4 years, we'll gradually have all student accounts move to GMail automatically. (But as I said, students tended to opt-in very quickly.)

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