Uni moving 6000 staff away from Google

By Robert Ek

Macquarie University is migrating staff email away from Gmail to Office 365, due to concerns about data sovereignty. The university plans for all staff email and calendars to be migrated to Office 365 by the end of this year.

The University only did the Gmail rollout several years ago.

The university's CIO Mary Davies told staff  that the institution had been forced to look for an alternative to its Gmail platform after Google decided to shift the organisation’s data out of the EU and into the US. Macquarie had no choice in the matter.

Macquarie University signed with Google in 2010 to migrate its 6,000 staff off Novell GroupWise (remember this technology?) and onto Gmail. Its students had moved to Gmail in late 2007.

One of the major reasons it signed with Google was that the company promised the data would be hosted in the EU.

Macquarie had initially raised concerns that its data would be subject to the US Patriot Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act if hosted in America. Originally the university had rejected Microsoft as an option at the time for being too expensive. Microsoft pricing is very competitive today.

Davies said as a result of Google's decision to shift Macquarie into the US, the university had been forced to look at other options and had subsequently decided to go with Microsoft and Office 365 hosted locally.

Microsoft has opened two Australian data centres late last year and has been hosting its cloud services from Sydney and Victoria since.

Davies said the new Office 365 solution had been tested with 90 staff for the last six months. Staff will be allowed to retain their Google accounts but will no longer be able to use email and calendaring services for work purposes.

The IT team will review the use of Google Apps next year based on staff and student requirements, Davies said.

Staff will be given access to Outlook, OneDrive, Skype for Business and Office 2013.

Data sovereignty is an issue for a lot of Australian organisations such as government, education, medical, legal, accounting etc. Microsoft made a very good move for the local market having data centres located here, in Australia.

The other issue that this story brings to light is that you may sign up for a service only to have it changed by the vendor in the future. This then costs your organisation a great deal of budget to get back to a platform where you are comfortable and able to manage compliance and the like.

SaaS (Software as a Services) is by far the largest sector (approximately 85%) and will continue to be, of the Cloud as we know it today. Office 365 and Google Docs are examples of SaaS offerings.

Our clients are generally what is know as 'Hybrid Cloud' - servers on premise with a range of XaaS services.

Aside: Price of bandwidth is coming down. The market for supplying broadband is consolidating into 4 major players. Telstra, the TPG group (iiNet, AAPT, Pipe Networks), Optus, and finally Vocus (Amcom and now talking with M2 (Dodo etc.). It will get to be more competitive which is good for Australia. Plus the NBN roll out continues in its many formats.

Robert Ek is Managing Director of Go Systems, a Sydney-based IT service provider. Email: robert@gosystems.com.au