Google Apps Deciphered: Compute in the Cloud to Streamline Your Desktop (Negus Software Solutions Series)

Overview

Google Apps Deciphered

Compute in the Cloud to Streamline Your Desktop

Use Google Apps to Improve Productivity and Collaboration, Reduce Costs, and Eliminate Technology Hassles!

Google Apps gives you virtually all the business and productivity software you need–all of it free, or available at extremely low cost. Because the suite of Google Apps runs on Google’s network in the cloud, you avoid the hassles that ...

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Overview

Google Apps Deciphered

Compute in the Cloud to Streamline Your Desktop

Use Google Apps to Improve Productivity and Collaboration, Reduce Costs, and Eliminate Technology Hassles!

Google Apps gives you virtually all the business and productivity software you need–all of it free, or available at extremely low cost. Because the suite of Google Apps runs on Google’s network in the cloud, you avoid the hassles that go with desktop software. Getting started with Google Apps is easy–but if you want to make the most of it, you’ll need expert guidance that Google’s online help doesn’t provide. Get all the help you need, right here.

This is your start-to-finish guide to setting up Google Apps, migrating to it, customizing it, and using it to improve productivity, communications, and collaboration. Scott Granneman introduces every leading component individually, and shows exactly how to make them work together for you on the web or by integrating them with your favorite desktop apps. You’ll find practical insights on Google Apps email, calendaring, contacts, wikis, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, video, and even Google’s new web browser Chrome. And, drawing on his extensive experience helping companies move to Google Apps, Granneman presents tips and tricks you simply won’t find anywhere else. Coverage includes

• Choosing the right edition of Google Apps for you

• Setting up Google Apps so it will be easier to use and manage

• Migrating your email, contacts, and calendars to Google Apps

• Administering and securing Google Apps

• Integrating Google Apps with other software and services

• Leveraging Google Sites to collaborate across teams, organizations, or the entire world

• Making the most of Google Talk voice calls and instant messaging

• Implementing Google’s office productivity tools, including Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentations

• Using policy management and message recovery to control and secure your messaging

• Customizing efficient Google Apps Start Pages for you and your colleagues

• Sharing important and useful videos with your colleagues

• Maximizing the innovative features of Google’s new web browser, Chrome

SCOTT GRANNEMAN is an author, teacher, and entrepreneur with extensive experience in Google Apps migration, setup, and training. As Adjunct Professor at Washington University, he teaches popular courses on technology, security, and the Internet. A monthly columnist for SecurityFocus and Linux Magazine, he has authored four books on open source technologies, including The Linux Phrasebook. As a principal at WebSanity, he manages the firm’s UNIX server environment, and helps develop its Content Management System, which is used by educational, business, and non-profit clients nationwide.

www.1and100zeroes.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780137004706
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 12/19/2008
  • Series: Negus Live Linux Series
  • Pages: 558
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Granneman is an author, educator, and consultant. Scott has written three books (Don’t Click on the Blue E!: Switching to Firefox, Hacking Knoppix, and the seminal Linux Phrasebook), co-authored one (Podcasting with Audacity: Creating a Podcast With Free Audio Software), and contributed to two (Ubuntu Hacks and Microsoft Vista for IT Security Professionals). In addition, he is a monthly columnist for SecurityFocus, with op/ed pieces that focus on general security topics, and for Linux Magazine, in a column focusing on new and interesting Linux software. He formerly blogged professionally on The Open Source Weblog and Download Squad.

As an educator, Scott has taught thousands of people of all ages–from preteens to senior citizens–on a wide variety of topics, including literature and technology. He has worked to educate people at all levels of technical skill about open source technologies, such as Linux and Firefox, and open standards. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches a variety of courses about technology, the Internet, and security.

As a Principal of WebSanity, he works with businesses and non-profits to take full advantage of the Internet’s communications, sales, and service opportunities. He researches new technologies and manages the firm’s UNIX-based server environment, thereby putting what he writes and teaches into practical use, and works closely with other partners on the underlying WebSanity Content Management System (CMS).

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Table of Contents

Foreword xxv

Preface xxvii

Acknowledgments xxxi

About the Author xxxiii

INTRODUCTION Computing in the Cloud 1

The Rise of Cloud Computing 3

Further Reading 7

PART I Getting Started with Google Apps 11

CHAPTER 1 Choosing an Edition of Google Apps 13

Standard 15

Premier 15

Team 15

Education (and Nonprofits) 16

Partner 17

Conclusion 17

Further Reading 18

CHAPTER 2 Setting Up Google Apps 21

Signing Up for the Various Google Apps Editions 21

Signing Up for the Standard Edition 21

Signing Up for the Team Edition 25

Signing Up for the Premier Edition 27

Signing Up for the Education (and Nonprofit) Edition 29

Enabling Additional Services 30

Enabling Web Pages 31

Enabling App Engine 31

Enabling Message Security and Recovery 31

Configuring DNS 33

Verifying Domain Ownership 33

Creating Custom URLs 36

Setting Up MX Records for Email 40

Setting Up SRV Records for Google Talk Federation 43

Setting Up MX Records for Policy Management and Message Recovery 46

Fighting Spam with SPF Records 48

Using a Domain Purchased Through Google 50

Buying a Domain Through Google 51

Accessing Advanced DNS Services 55

Should You Purchase Your Domain Through Google? 56

Creating Users 58

Adding Users Manually 58

Adding Users in Bulk 59

Syncing with Your Active Directory or LDAP Server 61

Canceling Google Apps 62

Solving Common Problems 62

I Can’t Get Back to the Control Panel! 62

I Lost the Admin Password! 63

Conclusion 64

Further Reading 64

CHAPTER 3 Migrating Email to Google Apps 67

Plan Carefully Before Migrating 69

Molding Your Email Folder Structure into the One Used by Gmail 69

Processing New Emails Arriving During the Migration 72

Dealing with Emails You Send During the Migration 74

Manually Migrate Email Using IMAP 78

Outlook-Specific Settings 80

Automatically Import from IMAP Servers Using Google’s IMAP Migration Tool 81

Automatically Migrate from Exchange Server 88

Develop Your Own POP Tools with Google’s Email Migration API 89

Manually Move Messages from a Preexisting mbox File or Maildir Store 90

Automatically Move Messages from a Preexisting mbox File 91

Automatically Move Mail from a Client with the Google Email Uploader 92

Automatically Transfer Mail from Thunderbird with the Mail Redirect Extension 95

Migrate Mail from Gmail to Google Apps Premier Edition 96

Manually Migrate from Hotmail (or Live Mail) Using the Microsoft Office Outlook Connector 97

Migrate from Web-Based Email Systems Using Thunderbird and the WebMail Extension 98

Migrate from Web-Based Email Systems 104

FreePOPs 105

MacFreePOPs 105

YPOPs 106

Solving Common Problems 106

Why Can’t I Use Gmail’s Mail Fetcher to Import Email? 107

I Want to Pay for Software or Hire Someone to Do the Work for Me! Where Do I Look? 107

Conclusion 107

Further Reading 108

CHAPTER 4 Migrating Contacts to Google Apps 109

Preparing to Migrate Contacts 110

Manually Importing a CSV File into Google Contacts 112

Working with the CSV File 113

Exporting Contacts from AOL 117

Exporting Contacts from Apple Mail 117

Exporting Contacts from Eudora 118

Exporting Contacts from Evolution 118

Exporting Contacts from Gmail 118

Exporting Contacts from Hotmail and Windows Live Hotmail 118

Exporting Contacts from KAddressBook 119

Exporting Contacts from Outlook 119

Exporting Contacts from Outlook Express 119

Exporting Contacts from Thunderbird 119

Exporting Contacts from Yahoo! 120

Developing Your Own Contact Migration Tools with Google Data APIs 120

Automatically Migrating from Exchange Server 121

Automatically Syncing Contacts with Plaxo 121

Automatically Syncing with Outlook Using OggSync 122

Automatically Syncing Your Apple Address Book and Google Contacts 123

Automatically Syncing Apple Address Book and Google Contacts with Spanning Sync 125

Automatically Syncing Your Thunderbird Personal Address Book and Google Contacts with Zindus Thunderbird Contact Sync 128

Automatically Copying Addresses with the Google Email Uploader 131

Solving Common Problems 131

While Importing into Google Contacts, I Keep Getting This Error Message: “Error saving data: Cannot have more than one contact with email address.” Why? 132

Conclusion 132

CHAPTER 5 Migrating Calendars to Google Apps 133

Preparing to Migrate Calendars 133

ICAL 134

CSV 136

Exporting Calendar Data from Software and Services 137

Exporting Calendars from AOL 137

Exporting Calendars from Apple iCal 138

Exporting Calendars from Evolution 139

Exporting Calendars from Google Calendar 139

Exporting Calendars from Hotmail and Windows Live 140

Exporting Calendars from KOrganizer 140

Exporting Calendars from Outlook 140

Exporting Calendars from Sunbird or Thunderbird with

Lightning 142

Exporting Calendars from Windows Calendar 143

Exporting Calendars from Yahoo! 143

Manually Importing Calendar Data 143

Developing Your Own Calendar Migration Tools with Google

Data APIs 144

Automatically Syncing Using ScheduleWorld 145

Automatically Syncing Using GCALDaemon 145

Automatically Syncing with Apple iCal Using Spanning Sync 146

Automatically Syncing with Outlook Using iCal4OL 147

Automatically Syncing with Outlook and Exchange Using

OggSync 151

Solving Common Problems 151

What Does a “Processed 0 events” Error Message Mean

When I’m Importing an ICAL or CSV File? 151

What Does It Mean That My ICAL or CSV Files Are Too Big

to Import into Google Calendar? 152

Why Are All My Imported Events Showing Up at the Wrong

Time? 152

Why Won’t My CSV File Import at All? 152

Conclusion 153

CHAPTER 6 Managing Google Apps Services 155

Dashboard 155

User Accounts 156

Users 156

Settings 157

Domain Settings 159

General 159

Account Information 160

Domain Names 160

Appearance 161

Advanced Tools 162

Service Settings 162

Start Page 162

Email 170

Chat 172

Calendar 173

Web Pages 176

Docs 177

Message Security and Discovery 178

Sites 178

Solving Common Problems 181

Why Do Administrators See Every Calendar My Users Have

Created? 182

Conclusion 182

Further Reading 182

PART II Gmail 183

CHAPTER 7 Setting Up Gmail 185

General 185

Maximum Page Size 186

Keyboard Shortcuts 186

Snippets 186

Vacation Responder 187

Outgoing Message Encoding 187

Browser Connection 188

Accounts 188

Get Mail from Other Accounts 188

Send Mail As 190

Change Password 194

Labels 194

Filters 199

Forwarding and POP/IMAP 199

Forwarding 199

POP Download 200

IMAP Access 200

Chat 201

Chat History 201

Chat List Location 202

Auto-Add Suggested Contacts 203

AIM 203

Web Clips 203

Labs 204

Quick Links 205

Superstars 207

Fixed Width Font 208

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts 209

Mouse Gestures 209

Signature Tweaks 209

Random Signature 210

Custom Date Formats 211

Conclusion 211

CHAPTER 8 Things to Know About Using Gmail 213

Searching for the Exact Message You Need 213

Living with Labels 218

Filtering Messages Effectively 218

Speeding Things Up with Keyboard Shortcuts 221

Securing Your Email 223

Checking for Viruses 223

Stopping Image Spam 225

Finding Out Who’s Accessing Your Gmail Account 225

Preventing Phishing 226

Limiting How Many Emails You Can Send 226

Solving Common Problems 227

What the Heck Is a “Lockdown in Sector 4?” 227

How Do I Troubleshoot Gmail Problems? 227

Conclusion 228

Further Reading 228

CHAPTER 9 Integrating Gmail with Other Software and Services 231

A Note on Adding Scripts to Your Web Browser 231

Understanding the Implications of POP and IMAP 232

IMAP Versus POP 233

Using POP 233

Using IMAP 235

Accessing Gmail in a Desktop Email Program 241

Generic Email Configuration for IMAP 242

Apple Mail 243

Evolution 246

KMail (and Kontact) 248

Outlook 2003 250

Outlook 2007 251

Outlook Express 252

Thunderbird 253

Windows Mail 256

Accessing Gmail on a Mobile Device 257

Generic Instructions for Mobiles 258

Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) 258

iPhone 259

Receiving Notifications 261

Receiving Notifications About New Emails 261

Receiving Notifications That Sent Mail Has Been Read 262

Securing Your Email 264

Encrypting Your Email 264

Backing Up Your Email 265

Changing Gmail’s Appearance 266

Giving Gmail a New Skin 266

Hiding Ads 268

Making Labels Look Like Nested Folders 269

Always Showing CC and BCC 270

Highlighting Conversations as You Mouse Over Them 271

Displaying Attachment Icons 272

Hiding the Chat Box 272

Displaying the Unread Count First on a Tab or Title Bar 273

Showing Message Details 273

Adding New Features 274

Providing More Keyboard Shortcuts 274

Using Gmail with the Getting Things Done System 276

Posting on the Bottom of Replies 276

Creating More Effective Filters, Faster 277

Adding Attachments by Drag and Drop 278

Defaulting to Gmail 279

Making Gmail the Default for Your Windows PC 279

Making Gmail the Default on Your Mac 279

Making Gmail the Default on Your Linux Box 280

Solving Common Problems 281

Why is Gmail so slow? 281

How can I check more than one Google Apps Gmail account

in the same browser? 282

Why do my non-English folders look funky in Outlook and

Outlook Express? 282

Why is my desktop email client crashing when I download my

email? 282

Why am I repeatedly getting prompted for my password? 282

Conclusion 283

CHAPTER 10 Integrating Google Contacts with Other Software and Services 285

A Quick Look at Several Contact Synchronization Programs 285

Query Google Contacts with GCALDaemon 286

Automatically Sync Apple Address Book and Google Contacts with Spanning Sync (and Others) 287

Develop Your Own Contacts Tool with the Google Contacts API 289

Solving Common Problems 289

Why Does Everyone I Email Show Up in my Google Contacts? 289

How Can I Quickly Edit Contact Names? 290

How Can I Make the Boxes into Which I Enter Info Bigger? 290

Is There Any Way I Can View Contacts Without Having to Log In to Gmail? 292

Help! My Contacts Won’t Load! 292

Conclusion 293

Further Reading 293

PART III Google Calendar 295

CHAPTER 11 Setting Up Google Calendar 297

General 297

Your Current Time Zone 297

Location 297

Show Events You Have Declined 298

Automatically Add Invitations to My Calendar 298

Change Password 298

Calendars 299

My Calendars 299

Other Calendars 304

Mobile Setup 305

Solving Common Problems 305

When I Share Calendars, Why Am I Limited to Showing Free/Busy Times? 305

Conclusion 306

CHAPTER 12 Things to Know About Using Google Calendar 307

Adding Events 307

Replacing Evite 309

Searching for Events 309

Speeding Things Up with Keyboard Shortcuts 310

Conclusion 311

Further Reading 312

CHAPTER 13 Integrating Google Calendar with Other Software and

Services 315

Accessing Google Calendar in a Desktop Calendar Program 316

Generic Instructions 316

Evolution 316

iCal 317

KOrganizer (and Kontact) 318

Outlook 2003 319

Outlook 2007 319

Sunbird and Thunderbird with Lightning 320

Windows Calendar 321

Working With Google Calendar on a Mobile Device 322

Generic Instructions 322

BlackBerry 322

iPhone 323

Windows Mobile 325

Synchronizing Google Calendar with a Desktop (or Mobile)

Calendar Program 325

A Quick Look at Several Calendar Synchronization Programs 325

Using CalDAV to Synchronize Apple iCal with Google Calendar 327

Receiving Notifications About Events 330

Securing Your Calendar 331

Changing Google Calendar’s Appearance 331

Giving Google Calendar a New Skin 332

Collapsing the Header and Sidebar 333

Wrapping Text in Events 334

Adding New Features 334

Adding To-Do’s to Google Calendar 334

Integrating Google Calendar with Gmail 335

Solving Common Problems 336

Can I Access and Use Google Calendar Offline in a Web Browser? 336

How Do I Copy an Appointment from one Google Calendar to Another? 337

My Calendar Entries Disappeared! Where Did They Go? 337

Conclusion 338

PART IV Google Docs 339

CHAPTER 14 Things to Know About Using Google Docs 341

Google Docs 342

Getting Schooled with Google Docs 342

Saving Time with Templates 344

Going Offline with Google Gears 346

Sharing, Collaborating, and Publishing 349

Documents 353

Changing Styles 353

Printing Page Numbers 356

Keyboard Shortcuts 357

Spreadsheets 358

Leveraging Formulas and Functions 359

Filling in Forms 367

Clarifying with Charts 371

Embedding Gadgets 373

Keyboard Shortcuts 376

Presentations 377

Delivering Presentations 378

Rearranging Slides 379

Resizing Objects 380

Keyboard Shortcuts 381

Solving Common Problems 382

When I Right-Click in Firefox, the Google Docs Menu Is Covered Up by the Web Browser’s Menu! 382

Conclusion 382

Further Reading 382

CHAPTER 15 Integrating Google Docs with Other Software and Services 385

Working with Google Docs Using OpenOffice.org or Star Office 385

OoGdocsIntegrator 386

OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs 386

Accessing Google Docs on a Mobile Device 388

Generic Instructions 388

BlackBerry 388

iPhone 388

Getting Documents into Google Docs 389

Using Firefox 390

Using Windows 393

Using Mac OS X 393

Encrypting Your Connection 393

Searching Your Docs from Your Mac OS X Desktop 394

Defaulting to Google Docs 395

Solving Common Problems 395

My docs disappeared! Where did they go? 395

How can I use all of Google Docs’ features in Safari? 396

Conclusion 396

PART V Google Sites 397

CHAPTER 16 Setting Up Google Sites 399

Sharing 400

Appearance 401

Themes 401

Site Elements 401

Colors and Fonts 403

Other Stuff 404

Statistics 404

Web Address Mapping 404

Google Webmaster Tools Verification 406

Delete This Site 406

Solving Common Problems 406

Why Can’t I Share My Site with People Outside My Domain? 407

Conclusion 407

Further Reading 407

CHAPTER 17 Things to Know About Using Google Sites 409

Thinking About How Google Sites Fits into Google Apps 409

Creating Several Kinds of Pages 411

Inserting Other Content into Your Pages 412

Utilizing the More Actions Menu 414

Worrying About Security 415

Conclusion 416

PART VI The Other Services 417

CHAPTER 18 Things to Know About Using Google Talk 419

The Four Versions of Google Talk and Their Features 419

Voice Calls 422

AIM Integration 422

Go Invisible 422

Sending and Receiving Offline Messages 423

Chat History 423

Off the Record 423

Multiuser (Group) Chats 424

Emoticons 424

Sending and Receiving Voicemail 424

File Transfer 425

Video and Image Embedding 426

Music Status Messages 427

Themes 427

Accessing Google Talk in a Desktop Program 427

Using an SSB (Site-Specific Browser) 428

Adium 431

Firefox 431

iChat 432

Kopete 432

Meebo 433

Pidgin 433

Psi 434

Trillian Pro 435

Accessing Google Talk on a Mobile Device 436

BlackBerry 436

iPhone 436

Securing Your Chats 436

Client-to-Server Encryption 437

End-to-End Encryption 437

Solving Common Problems 438

I Have More Than One Google Apps Account and Would Like to Chat Using Two or More at the Same Time 438

Why Can’t I Connect to Google Talk? 439

How Do I Block Google Talk on My Network? 439

Google Talk: How Can I Record Voice Conversations? 439

Google Talk Gadget: One of My Chat Tabs Disappeared! 440

Google Talk Gadget: Why Can’t I Copy and Paste? 440

Conclusion 441

Further Reading 441

CHAPTER 19 Things to Know About Using Start Page 443

Decorating with Themes 443

Going Ga-Ga for Gadgets 444

Collaborating with Gadgets 445

Solving Problems with Gadgets 446

Keeping Track of Customers 446

Managing Projects 447

Accessing Backed Up Files 448

Keeping Track of Tasks 449

Limiting the Gadgets Users Can Add 450

Accessing Your Start Page from a Mobile Device 451

Trying Out the New Start Page 452

Solving Common Problems 455

Why Can’t I Add Certain RSS Feeds to My Start Page? 455

How Do I Reorder My Tabs? 455

Conclusion 455

Further Reading 456

CHAPTER 20 Things to Know About Using Message Security and Recovery 457

Features of Message Security and Discovery 457

Policy Management 458

Message Recovery 458

Message Discovery 458

Using Message Security and Discovery 459

Administration Console 459

User Overview 459

User Access 461

Reports 461

Conclusion 462

Further Reading 462

CHAPTER 21 Things to Know About Using Google Video 465

Changing Control Panel Settings 466

Using Google Video 468

Home 468

My Videos 468

Upload 468

Viewing Videos 470

Accessing Google Video on the iPhone 472

Solving Common Problems 472

Why Can’t I Upload Any Videos? 472

Conclusion 472

Further Reading 472

PART VII Appendices 475

APPENDIX A Backing Up Google Apps 477

Backing Up Gmail 477

Backing Up Google Contacts 479

Backing Up Google Calendar 479

Backing Up Google Docs 479

Backing Up Google Sites 480

Backing Up Google Talk 484

Backing Up Start Page 484

Backing Up Google Video 485

Conclusion 485

APPENDIX B Dealing with Multiple Accounts 487

The Problem Without a Good Solution 487

The Solvable Problem 489

Solutions 490

Working in Separate Web Browsers 490

Creating Multiple Instances of Internet Explorer 490

Getting Specific with an SSB (Site-Specific Browser) 490

Hiding with Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode 491

Running the IE Tab Extension for Firefox 492

Creating Separate Firefox Profiles 493

Swapping Cookies with the CookieSwap Extension for

Firefox 497

A Few Gmail-Only Solutions 498

Conclusion 499

APPENDIX C Google Chrome: A Browser Built for Cloud

Computing 501

Why? 502

Features 504

Omnibox 504

V8 507

Dynamic Tabs 507

Application Shortcuts 508

New Tab Page 510

Crash Control 511

Incognito Mode 512

Safe Browsing 512

User Interface Niceties 513

Looking at the About: Pages 513

Solving Common Problems 515

How Do I Block Ads? 515

Can I Change How Chrome Looks? 516

Where Are the Chrome Plugins? 516

How Do I Back Up Chrome? 517

How Do I Update Chrome? 517

Does Google Chrome’s EULA Say That It Owns Everything

I Do with Chrome? 518

Conclusion 518

Further Reading 519

Index 521

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Preface

Introduction: Computing in the Cloud

Microsoft Office is the undisputed 800-pound gorilla in the office suite jungle, with millions of users and billions of dollars in sales. However, as we saw in King Kong, even the mightiest gorilla can be hurt by enough buzzing planes. If one of those planes is actually a mighty jet named Google, then good ol’ Kong may be facing more trouble than he’s anticipated.

Over the last few years, Google has been polishing Google Apps, its online suite of software that includes most of the features found in mainstream office suites, and then some:

  • Word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations
  • Email and contacts, including message security and recovery
  • Calendar
  • Wikis and websites
  • Instant messaging
  • Video sharing

Google is seeing phenomenal success with Google Apps. Over 3000 businesses a day are signing up at a rate of over one million per year. In total, over 500,000 businesses use Google Apps, with more than ten million active users. Of those, hundreds of thousands pay for the Premier Edition of Google Apps, which costs $50 per year. In the realm of education, thousands of universities, with more than one million active students and staff on six continents, are using Google Apps.

Some of those clients in business include the following:

  • Brasil Telecom
  • The District of Columbia (38,000 employees)
  • Genentech
  • Indoff (500 employees)
  • Intel
  • L’Oreal R&D
  • Procter & Gamble Global Business Services
  • Prudential Real Estate Affiliates (450 employees)
  • Telegraph Media Group (1400 employees)
  • Valeo (32,000 employees)

As for clients in education, there are many impressive wins in that list as well:

  • Arizona State University (65,000 students)
  • George Washington University
  • Hofstra University
  • Indiana University
  • Kent State University
  • Northwestern University (14,000 students)
  • University of Delhi
  • University of North Carolina—Greensboro
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Virginia

Just to give one example, Arizona State University has 65,000 students, which is obviously a huge number, but it took only two weeks to deploy Google Apps. As a result of the switch, ASU is now saving $500,000 a year, which is nothing to sneeze at.

This might all seem like a drop in the bucket compared with Microsoft’s reach and profits, and in strictly numerical terms it is. However, remember that Google makes its money primarily through ad sales, and it therefore has an overwhelming interest in moving as much of our lives as possible online. The more we move online, the more opportunities Google has to place ads in front of our eyeballs.

In addition, every person who starts using Google Apps is potentially one less customer for Microsoft, which hurts Google’s biggest competitor in the long run. Microsoft has finally woken up to the fact that software and services are inexorably moving to the Net, and it has responded with its own attempts in this area, called Microsoft Online Services.


Note - Microsoft also markets a service called Office Live (http://www.officelive.com), but don’t be fooled. That’s just rebranded Hotmail, document storage (you still have to have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint installed on your PC), and el cheapo website hosting.


Microsoft’s involvement, however, remains tied to its “software plus services” model, in which online tools still require the use of software running on a PC to work. This protects Microsoft’s cash cows, Windows and Office, first and foremost, while allowing the company to trumpet its participation in moving online as well.

If you look more closely at Microsoft’s offering, you see that it still requires software that runs on your computer beyond just a web browser. Sure, the cheapest offering —$3 per user per month—provides email through a web browser, but that’s just Outlook Web Access pointed to an Exchange server. To use other tools such as SharePoint server access for document sharing and collaboration, expensive licenses for Microsoft Office are still mandatory.

Prices go up from there so that the full package, with hosted Exchange and SharePoint and other tools, starts at $15 per user per month, which comes to $180 per year per person. And of course it works only with Microsoft software, which means Windows and Office. You can use a Mac to read email, but you have to use Entourage, Microsoft’s Outlook-like program that’s part of the company’s Office suite, for Macs. Linux users? Don’t be silly!

It’s not just Microsoft, however. Yahoo is sniffing around the hosted services concept with the formation of a new Cloud Computing & Data Infrastructure Group. And Amazon has been doing this for years with its Amazon Web Services (http://aws.amazon.com), which includes Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple DB, Simple Storage Service, and Simple Queue Service.

Something is changing in business, on the Internet, and in technology. The term that is increasingly used to apply to this change is cloud computing.

THE RISE OF CLOUD COMPUTING

As a term of technical slang, the “cloud” refers to the Internet, so cloud computing refers to Internet-centric software and services that are outsourced to someone else and offered on pay-as-you-go terms. In the case of Google Apps, organizations don’t have to install software on their computers (and it doesn’t matter if those computers are running Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux), and they don’t have to install and maintain expensive servers and the associated software they require to run. Instead, they simply access Google’s services in a web browser.

Everything is on Google’s infrastructure—the software, the data, the backups, everything—and is therefore accessible in the cloud from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting to Google Apps from your computer at work or at home, or from your iPhone or BlackBerry, or from your office or somewhere in Timbuktu because everything you need is always available in Google’s cloud.

It’s not a new idea per se—decades ago, Sun co-founder John Gage proclaimed that “the network is the computer”—but it’s finally been able to reach a period of reality and even hypergrowth thanks to the spread of reliable high-speed Internet access coupled with the virtually limitless supplies of computer storage and processing power. As it gets cheaper and cheaper for companies such as Google and Amazon to build out massive server farms, and then connect those mind-bogglingly powerful resources to users across the world via the Internet, new and exciting technologies become possible. Case study number one: Google Apps, the subject of this book.

Of course, there are problems that companies building services in the cloud and users of those services will face.

To start with, there’s reliability. Yes, even the mighty Google has stumbled. In July 2008, for example, Google Docs was unavailable to many users for an hour or so. Virtually all companies have suffered downtimes, however, ranging from eBay to Amazon to Royal Bank of Canada to AT&T. This is simply a fact of life. Downtimes will happen. Humans can attempt to plan for every eventuality, but mistakes, errors, and even natural events beyond our control intrude and cause problems. It’s an interesting psychological fact, though, that we humans exhibit something called the illusion of control. For instance, we are far more likely to die in a car than on a plane, but people are often psychologically more comfortable driving in their cars than riding on planes due to the fact that drivers feel in control of the situation, while passengers may not.

For this reason, many people feel safer running their own servers instead of outsourcing to Google because they want that feeling of control over their machines and their data. However, Google now offers a service level agreement (SLA) for the Premier Edition of Google Apps that guarantees 99.9% uptime for Gmail (that means about 9 hours of downtime a year). SLAs for other services are coming soon as well.

In addition, take a look at 99.9% uptime guarantee. Before you refuse to even consider using Google Apps, think honestly about your own organization’s infrastructure. I know you work hard, and you do the absolute best you can, but can you honestly say that your servers are down less than 9 hours a year? If so, then maybe you should continue doing things the way you’ve been doing them. But if not, maybe you should think a bit more about cloud computing the Google way.

In fact, more than just a lack of downtime, I would argue that customers actually want honest communication about problems and what cloud computing providers are doing about them. If a service I use is down, that’s annoying, but if I can see that the service providers know about the issue and follow along as they fix it, I’m fine. I’m in the loop, and that reduces my stress and annoyance. Google has been okay at communication so far, but it is working on improving it, which is always a good thing.

And, finally, there is security. Again, many organizations have their own internal security matters they need to attend to long before they begin to worry about Google Apps’ security. And besides, Google does take security seriously. For an overview, read The Official Google Blog’s “How Google keeps your information secure” (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-google-keeps-your-information.html) for the company’s four-prong strategy: philosophy, technology, process, and people. But on top of that, realize that Google eats its own dog food—it uses Google Apps itself. If there’’s a security vulnerability, no one feels it more acutely than Google. When your business is run on what you’re selling, you can bet that you’ll make darn sure that everything is as safe as it could possibly be.

In the end, cloud computing, especially as it is embodied by Google Apps, brings enormous benefits to users, administrators, and organizations that simply cannot be ignored.

  • Access from anywhere—I have several computers at home, one at work, one at Washington University in St. Louis where I teach, and I use computers that aren’t mine at various locations all the time. On top of those, I carry my iPhone with me everywhere I go. With Google Apps, I’m always connected to my email, my calendar, and my data. If I’m online, I can access and use Google Apps. And even if I’m not online, I can still use most everything I need with Google Apps as well.
  • Platform- and browser-agnostic—I use a Mac mostly, but I also use Linux and sometimes Windows. When it comes to web browsers, I’m running Firefox and Safari constantly, but I’ll also open Google Chrome and Opera, and even every once in a while if a really have to, and I’m forced, Internet Explorer. Google Apps doesn’t really care what operating system I’m running, and it does a heck of a job working with my menagerie of web browsers. That’s the way it should be, and I appreciate it.
  • Costs less—I don’t need to buy special servers, operating systems, and software to access and use Google Apps. All I have to have is a free web browser on an Internet-enabled device, and I can work with Google Apps. Further, Google Apps has only two price points: free, which provides the services most users and organizations need, and $50 per user per year for the Premier Edition of Google Apps that is more suited to businesses with specialized needs. Even at $50 per user per year, that’s a negligible expense for an incredible set of services.
  • Constant improvements—Google rolls out new features for Google Apps at least every month, thereby constantly making its software better. Those new features arrive as part of Google Apps without the need for additional software installs. And they’re free. Something that gets better all the time without inconveniencing me or costing me extra money? Sounds great!
  • Someone else worries about the plumbing—I don’t have millions of dollars and thousands of smart folks at my immediate disposal, but Google does. The company has smart and experienced programmers, admins, and engineers, as well as money, and an amazing infrastructure of computers and networks—and by using Google Apps, I can use all of that for my own benefit. I don’t have to concern myself with the hard stuff that Google takes care of; instead, I can focus on using Google Apps to make my life and work more productive.
  • Backup and reliability—As part of that massive infrastructure, Google provides backup for my data. Of course, it’s always a good idea to back up things yourself, so I’ll cover doing just that in Appendix A, but know that you don’t need to worry about day to day losses. And Google’s network has been remarkably reliable, with next to no downtime, so you know you can count on it.
  • Security—It’s a fact of life that companies have to worry about security. Google Apps takes care of much of that, for instance, by scanning automatically for viruses and spam. Even better, its tools for detecting those nasties are excellent and highly effective. You can access most Google Apps services via an encrypted connection, which stymies snoops, and there are other security tools available for those that need them.
  • Collaboration and sharing—No one is an island, and that’s never been more true than in today’s interconnected world. We don’t work today as much as we collaborate and share, and Google Apps makes this interesting. The first time you find yourself editing a file in Google Docs with another person on a different computer, and you realize that both of you are able to edit the same file at the same time, you’ll gasp. The second time you edit a file with someone else, you’ll start to wonder why all software doesn’t work that way. It’s that easy and that natural, and Google Apps makes it simple.
  • Search instead of find—Google is the king of search, and it’s no surprise that its super-powerful search tools are embedded throughout Google Apps. Forget filing your email messages; instead, search for them. Don’t worry about pawing through subfolder after subfolder looking for that document you need; just search for it. Can’t find the details you need for that upcoming appointment? Search your Google Calendar and find past meetings that tell you what you need to know.
  • Work with your existing programs—As great as Google Apps is, the company still realizes that many people are wed to one or more desktop tools that they feel they can’t live without (actually, I’d argue that most of the time, they just don’t yet realize that they can in fact live without them). Outlook often falls into this category, but it’s not just Outlook. Maybe you’re a huge fan of Apple’s iCal, or Thunderbird, or OpenOffice.org. In most cases, you can still use your favorite desktop tools with Google Apps. I’ll show you how in several chapters throughout this book.

Cloud computing is very much a popular buzzword right now, but Google Apps shows that there is a large and growing business behind that buzzword. It’s an exciting time to be in business and technology, as several forces that have been improving for years—networks, computers, and mobility, to name but a few—have converged to create something that offers a new computing paradigm that can benefit virtually everyone who uses a computer for their work and life. As you’ll see in this book, Google Apps provides those benefits, in spades.

FURTHER READING

There’s always more to learn, so here are some resources that you might find handy if you want to learn more about Google Apps and cloud computing:

  • Google’s clients
    • John Cox’s “Google, Microsoft woo higher ed with freebies” from eWeek (August 4, 2008).
    • “Businesses share their stories”: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/customers.html
    • “Google Apps to Meet iPhone at Texas University”: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Messaging-and-Collaboration/Google-Apps-to-Meet-iPhone-at-Texas-University/
    • “Google Apps Premier Edition Takes Aim at the Enterprise”: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/Google-Apps-Premier-Edition-Takes-Aim-at-the-Enterprise/
    • “Customers Compile Wish List for Google Apps”: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Messaging-and-Collaboration/Customers-Compile-Wish-List-for-Google-Apps/
    • “One year mark for Google Apps Education Edition”: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/one-year-mark-for-google-apps-education.html
    • “Back to school with more than 1 million users worldwide”: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/back-to-school-with-more-than1-million.html
    • “Google Apps tops 1 million businesses”: http://news.cnet.com/830113953_3-10029861-80.html
    • “No One’s Paying For Google Apps, But That’s Okay (GOOG)”: http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/7/no-one-paying-for-google-apps
    • “Customers”: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en-GB/admins/customers.html
  • Microsoft’s Cloud Computer Offerings
    • “Microsoft Launches Hosted Exchange Deals”: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/08/microsoft-launch-hosted-exchange-deals/
    • “Microsoft Unveils Pricing and Partner Model for Web-Based Messaging and Collaboration Services”: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/jul08/07-08BOSGWPCAPR.mspx
    • Microsoft Online Services: http://www.microsoft.com/online/
  • Cloud Computing
    • “Twenty Experts Define Cloud Computing”: http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/read/612375_p.htm
    • “Cloud Computing: So You Don’t Have to Stand Still”: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/25/technology/25proto.html
    • Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch: http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/bigswitch/ (especially see http://www.nicholasgcarr.com/bigswitch/readings.shtml)
    • “Can you trust your business to Google’s cloud?”: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-9989019-2.html
    • “Google Docs goes down, user data does not”: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-9985608-2.html
  • Google Apps
    • Interactive Video Guide: http://services.google.com/apps/resources/overviews/welcome/topicWelcome/index.html
    • Product Overview and Tour Videos
    • Google Apps Quick Tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJT3pagjd8s
    • Rajen Sheth demos Google Apps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY2bpr1TAA4
    • Google Apps Overview Screencast: https://services.google.com/apps/site/overview/index.html
    • Official Google Apps Discussion Group: http://groups.google.com/group/apps-discuss
    • The official update feed from the Google Apps team (blog): http://googleappsupdates.blogspot.com
    • Webinars: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/seminars.html
  • News and Announcements
    • News: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/news.html
    • New features for users and admins: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/new.html
    • Google Apps Frequently Reported Issues: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/request.py?contact_type=known_issues
    • Support Options: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/static.py?page=contacting_support.html

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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  • Posted December 6, 2010

    Excellent Guide to Setting up Google Apps

    I have been using Google Apps for about 3 yrs. Although I am proficient in using and managing my installation, this manual has a wealth of information I never knew. New users and experienced users alike will find extremely usefull tips and tricks that allow your company to get the most out of cloud computing with Google Apps.

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    Posted September 6, 2010

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