The University of California at Berkeley has chosen Google over Microsoft for its campus-wide email and calendar services, and it will tell you why — in great detail.
Google and Microsoft are locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of businesses, government agencies, and schools across the globe, each touting its own suite of business applications as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sometimes, Google wins, and sometimes Microsoft. But Berkeley’s choice is worth noting because the university so carefully explained why it picked one over the other. Though both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 are billed as “cloud” services, they are very different things. Google is built to operate entirely on the web, while Microsoft’s suite still leans on local software.
Berkeley plumped for Gmail and Google Calendar in part because they’re cheap — Google offers its Apps to schools and colleges for free — but the university looked at far more than just price. This week, it laid out a detailed comparison of Google and Microsoft on its public website. “We’re a public university so we want to be transparent about the decision,” Shelton Waggener, the UC Berkeley CIO, tells Wired.
While Google came out ahead in a large majority of Berkeley’s email-related evaluations, Waggener said that the decision was not as easy as it may look on paper. With the school’s roughly 70,000 students and staff already using so many web and software tools on their own, he said, the IT department must consider not only its own preferences but the preferences of so many others. “We recognize that whatever choice we make, we’ll have to continually re-evaluate,” he says. “These aren’t permanent decisions anymore.”
The school started looking for new services in part because of recent outages on its existing email system, CalMail. Google’s ability to move the school from CalMail to Gmail in an estimated six to ten weeks was an important consideration, according to Berkeley’s report. “A UC Berkeley migration to Google can start faster and with less infrastructure investment,” the report says. “Google’s solution is optimized for web-based interaction. It is designed to be quickly provisioned and a migration to Google could begin more quickly than one to Office 365.”
Office 365, the report says, would require the installation and configuration of local software before any migration could begin and a “significant change” the company’s mail routing infrastructure. “Office 365 offers an integrated experience for on-premise and cloud users,” it reads. “This comes at a greater ongoing, operational expense and complexity of maintaining central infrastructure.” The report also cites recent news that the University of Nebraska still hasn’t completed its migration to Office 365 despite being one of the first university’s to sign-up for the service after its debut this past summer.
All that said, Berkeley liked that Microsoft would allow the company to better straddle the line between local software and services in the proverbial cloud.
The university also liked Gmail because it’s already used by a large swath of students and faculty. The report notes that a “significant” percentage of UC Berkeley’s student body is familiar with Gmail and that a large number of students are already forwarding their existing school email to a Gmail address. After the move to Gmail, the report says, it would be easy for users to retain multiple, separate email accounts. By contrast, there’s not a consumer version of Office 365 comparable to Gmail, the report says, and Microsoft’s solution would force users to consolidate separate accounts into one.
But Google’s victory wasn’t completely one-sided. Microsoft scored well on calendar tools, with the University arguing that a move to Office 365 would cause fewer problems for calendar “power users” — those who “may schedule dozens of meetings a day for several administrators and keep track of one to two dozen calendars minute by minute.” The report says that only about 5 percent of the people on campus are power users, but they account for about fifty percent of calendar use. “The lessened functionality in Google would be a detriment to these power users’ productivity going forward,” the report says.
Microsoft also came out ahead on security. After examining such security issues as authentication, encryption of stored email, and guarantee on where data will be stored, the university feels that Microsoft has a clear edge. “Google is inferior on all fronts,” the report says, “but only by a small margin.”
Asked to comment on the Berkeley report, Microsoft pointed to Berkeley’s recent decision to some of its other software on campus, including Windows. “Productivity is in our DNA,” reads a statement from Microsoft. “This is a market we understand well and care about deeply. We’re delivering the power and familiarity of Office as part of easily consumer cloud solutions that non competitor can match.”
But behind the scenes, according to Berkeley’s Shelton Waggener, Microsoft has contacted the university to take issue with its report, requesting certain changes be made. He also said that several other universities have phoned to thank him for laying out the university’s thinking in such detail.
Berkeley’s very public report spotlights yet another clash of the tech titans. But when you consider the university’s efforts to accommodate what students and faculty are already using — and its ultimate choice of Google — it raises a larger question. Why do schools even provide an email account anyway? Gmail and most web-based clients are free. Schools — especially state school strapped for funding — could save on huge infrastructure costs by cutting the email systems and just letting student use their own accounts. An email address would just be one more data point gathered during registration, like a phone or social security number.
Waggener’s office is considering the question, and he notes that campus surveys find that many students prefer to receive information via text messages and Facebook rather than email. “It’s fair to say that email is for old people,” he says with a laugh. But Waggener is also serving the university’s entire staff and faculty. The university still believes in a unified infrastructure, and all things considered, email and calendars are still a very important part of that. Waggener says that if Berkeley changed technologies with the arrival of each new thing, it would still be using MySpace. “You have to be prepared to move, but you can’t be schizophrenic about it,” he says. “I would rather build the tools to let students choose.”
Google 全體員工在此致上最深的謝意，感謝您一直以來持續與 Google 合作，並祝您闔家新年快樂。
– Google 小組敬上
Google's latest Easter Egg make it "snow."
Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.
Fresh off its popular "do a barrel roll" trick, Google’s back with a new Easter Egg, this one of the winter holiday variety.
Users who enter "let it snow" in the search field are greeted with a flurry of digital snowflakes on their screen, followed by frost that eventually takes over the entire page.
Have no fear, you can use the left button on your mouse much as you would a gloved hand to clear the frost or, for those looking for a less manually-intensive option, the search button turns into a defrost button.
Go ahead, have at it. If all your Christmas shopping has left you too exhausted to actually type in the words, we've got you covered. Just click here. You're welcome. Merry Christmas.
MINNEAPOLIS — Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that it would be a mistake for Congress to approve Hollywood-backed legislation meant to combat online piracy because it would be ineffective and could fundamentally alter the way the Internet works.
Companion bills before the House and Senate would allow copyright holders to go to court to compel credit card companies and online advertising companies, including Google, to cut off websites dedicated to distributing pirated material. Prosecutors would be able to get court orders forcing search engines to drop the sites.
In response to a question after speaking Wednesday at the University of Minnesota, Schmidt said it would be a mistake to adopt the bills’ approach to fighting piracy. “The problem with the two bills is that they go after all the wrong problems,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt said some provisions in the bills were technologically difficult, including giving copyright holders the right to delete links from the Internet and criminalizing the indexing of the content by search engines.
“There are a whole bunch of issues involved with breaking the Internet and the way it works,” he said.
Another big problem, he said, was that the bills won’t work. He said the criminal activity would immediately move to different websites and continue.
“The correct solution, which we’ve repeatedly said, is to follow the money,” Schmidt said. “Making it more explicitly illegal to make money from that type of content is what we recommend.”
Finally, Schmidt said they violated free speech rights protected in the First Amendment. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the author of the Senate bill, disputed that in a statement released by his office Wednesday afternoon.
“There is no First Amendment right to steal,” he said. “This (bill) will protect Americans’ intellectual property rights, which in turn boosts our economy and promotes American jobs.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has introduced a separate bill that would update current federal copyright law to make clear that streaming copyrighted material for commercial purposes can be prosecuted as a felony. A spokesman, Linden Zakula, said Klobuchar “hopes that Leahy and the House authors work to address the concerns about the larger bill.”
Schmidt spoke at the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The university is one of the biggest users of the Google’s free applications in higher education in the United States, with more than 90,000 Google email accounts.
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