UM-Flint’s Transition to Gmail Continues

Ryan Lanxton, Writer

New academic years often bring about new changes for both students and staff. In this year’s case, nearly everyone has transitioned from the old Outlook email service to a Google Gmail account.

While services to other G Suite applications like Docs, Slides and Calendar have been available to students prior to this semester, the transition to Gmail allows all other G Suite programs to better interact with each other, hopefully creating a seamless network experience. 

The transition to Gmail is also bringing some financial benefits to the university. “The primary motivation to move to the Google G Suite of apps and services was cost savings of over $200,000 in upfront costs and significant savings due to the day-to-day support that is already provided by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor,” said Erik Taipalus, project manager for the migration.

After successful transitions occurred at the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses in 2012 and 2014, respectively, UM-Flint executives encouraged a switch for this campus, as well. However, the real legwork was completed by the Information Technology Services (ITS). 

“Our ITS Google Migration Team received amazing support from a team of ITS counterparts on the Ann Arbor campus, and also from ITS at the Dearborn campus. Through campus visits and monthly conference calls, they were definitely able to provide invaluable knowledge from their migration experience, as well as up-to-date knowledge regarding how to introduce and utilize Google services within the UM community,” says Taipalus.

One of the biggest goals for the project was to ensure as smooth a transition as possible, a daunting task considering the thousands of UM-Flint accounts. By providing direct support to department staff, ITS was able to get each department and faculty member transitioned. For students, a simple web portal was set up on the UM-Flint homepage for them to transfer all of their Outlook data into their new emails.

But of course, with any major project like this, hiccups should be expected. “The biggest difficulty was simply the number of people who needed to migrate and the fact that there was no perfect time for any group to migrate,” said Taipalus. The difficulty of this transition was highlighted recently when a mass email concerning an attempted robbery on campus was not sent to every person with a ‘umich’ account.

Problems with the system are best handled by working directly with ITS, who will be able to provide advanced technical knowledge on the issue. “We continue to work with any students, faculty or staff members who could not migrate on schedule for any reason, but 99% of all migrations have been completed,” said Taipalus.

According to the project’s homepage, the goal for this semester is to make sure that 100 percent of faculty and staff are fully migrated as there are still some accounts that have not transitioned for various technical reasons. In addition, ITS would like to see every department using Team Drives, a cloud-sharing service that allows multiple users to access individual documents at once.

For any questions or concerns about the transition to Gmail, ITS encourages you to contact them at 810-762-3123, or to visit them in-person at their help desk in room 206 in the Murchie Science Building on the second floor.