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Migrating to Google Apps Survey Results

Apr
12
 

Last year NTAP did a survey of 12 legal aid organizations that migrated email and other applications to Google apps. The results of the survey were overall positive. Issues covered include cost, ease of transition, and advice for making the transition

Cost:

10 of 12 programs reported a cost savings with 3 of those noting a significant cost savings. The remaining two did not evaluate the cost. This is one of the clear advantages to going with Google.

Security:

Over all security was given a very positive review. The only noted security concern related to calendars (I am curious if this is still an issue) and room reservations leaking data. Some originations though implement policies designed to limit information in the cloud just incase there was a future data breach.

We have not had any security problems since switching, but we have a policy that staff should not post confidential information on their calendar or in their email in any event. Clients should only be identified by first name, last initial and case number if needed. We have other more secure systems we can use to transfer and store confidential data. We are not doing this because we think someone will compromise the info we have on Google’s servers, but just because their policies, etc. leave it open to the potential of third party access in certain circumstances, and we are just being extra careful.

Privacy of Clients:

The respondents were also clearly concerned about their clients privacy and had differing approaches to this potential issue. To the question “Does your organization store client data on Google's server (by including client data in emails sent through Gmail or documents prepared in Google Docs)?” Some orgs opted out of using Google for client data: Only internal unit-specific data is stored with Google, but no client data.

Other opted for training and caution:
Yes. As a general proposition we are very comfortable with Google’s privacy and security controls. In general, our concerns are not with client data being hosted by Google, any more than we would be with any other TP hosting service with proper privacy and security controls. The real issue is the users, i.e., assuring that they understand and properly use the Google Apps to assure client confidentiality is preserved. This is especially important give the ease with which Google Apps content can be shared.
If you are considering moving to Goggle apps check out the final question “other comments” which includes some practical advice:
One of the biggest issues we faced was our IT staff wanting to do too much at once. Phase things in: start with email, then do shared calendaring, Google Doc, etc. It was too much for the staff to implement too many things at once.

The full survey results are in this avalible upon request: brianr@nwjustice.org
Disclosure: I use Google, Microsoft and my own private server running linux for various projects.

EDIT: Full report only avalible via email for privacy reasons -Rowe