After months of planning and promotion, Stony Brook University has migrated all student email accounts to Google Apps for Education. The Google Apps accounts were made available to all students beginning in July and about 2,000 voluntarily made the switch before the Oct. 1 migration.
“The majority of students [were] not even using their MySBmail accounts,” said Kerrin Perniciaro, manager of IT Communications and Web Strategy, about the transition. “A lot of students were already using some kind of cloud service like Gmail.”
Students see the Google Apps account as much more accessible and familiar.
“I hated the old system but I am familiar with Gmail,” said Chirs Coulter, a junior biology major. “Now I’m not afraid to throw it on top of my resume and use it for working with clubs and organizations on campus.”
Other students see the new system as an improvement, but still prefer using their own emails.
“I’m more likely to use it, but not often,” said Kenny Fierro, a junior business major. “I’ll still use my personal email a lot.”
Google Apps for Education provides students with a Gmail address with the @stonybrook.edu extension, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Drive (previously called Google Docs).
“Google Drive opens up this whole new world,” said Perniciaro. “It’s a way for people across campus to collaborate, share and edit one document without using email…across the board it makes things so much easier.”
The Google Apps for Education account is similar to a normal Gmail account, with several added benefits. There are no advertisements, 25 gigabytes of email storage, 5 gigabytes of storage for Google Drive and Google can not use information from students emails for anything but security.
“Google has more to lose if they don’t protect the data,” said Perniciaro. “Google doesn’t own the data, we do, it’s explicitly stated in our contract.”
The project began in the fall 2011 semester when the Department of Information Technology(DoIT) began looking into new email options. The steering committee was made up of professors and several graduate and undergraduate students. It was co-chaired by the then-Chief Information Officer, Chris Kielt and Margaret Schedel, chair of the University Senate Committee on Information Technology, who evaluated several different email systems that use the cloud. Google Apps for Education and Microsoft Office 365 were the frontrunners.
“If you look at other institutions of higher education across the country we’re not the leaders…we’re almost at the back of the pack,” said Perniciaro of the move to a cloud based email option.
Melanie Sinesi, a senior sociology major agrees.
“I think it’s a really good idea for Stony Brook to be teaming up with such an innovative and reliable company,” she said. “I personally have always used Gmail.”
The biggest problem faced by DoIT during the migration has been communication with students, according to Perniciaro.
“It’s been a challenge because students weren’t checking their university-provided email,” she said.
Messages have now also been sent out to students preferred emails from SOLAR, and Perniciaro is optimistic that students will check it out.
“As people become more comfortable and understand it, I think it’ll really take off,” she said.
Students now have access to the accounts by going to stonybrook.edu/mycloud and using their NetID and password to log in.
The Stony Brook Press Executive Editor, Nick Batson, and Art Director, Jesse Chang, are both affiliated with DoIT. Neither were involved in the reporting for this piece.