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It’s been a long and, at times, bumpy road, but we’re now in a position where staff have migrated, students have migrated and support tickets are dropping 🙂 Because of this, the project is beginning to wrap up and wind down, which means this blog is no longer needed.

But we don’t just want to go silent!

We’ll be running another blog where we’ll post about new features, hints/tips, new ways of working – anything Google/UoB related! You can find the new blog at:

http://googleatuob.blogs.ilrt.org

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Google Campaign 2We hope you are enjoying the new Gmail service and that you’ve managed to find some time to become familiar with the new features Google have to offer.

 

There are a number of elements which we thought it might be worth highlighting to help you make the most of the service, and to help you overcome any issues you may encounter.

 

Access to Gmail via a mobile and setting your password in Google

To access Gmail on your mobile device or in other email clients (even though we recommend using Gmail online in the Google Chrome web browser!) use the instructions on setting up your mobile device and configuring an email client that can be found on the IT Services’ website.  It’s important to note that if you need to access Google services directly, which you do for mobile access, you’ll need to set your password in Google.

 

Shared mailboxes/Delegated Accounts

Information about how to find and troubleshoot access to shared mailboxes, now known as delegated accounts, is covered in a number of FAQs and you can also administer delegated accounts online.

 

Report spam

‘Report spam’ to help Gmail learn.  Be careful  that you only mark messages as spam when they are malicious or that no-one at the University wishes to receive. For example, email from a mailing list that you are no longer interested in can be archived or deleted instead of reporting it as spam. (Remember that you can always unsubscribe from mailing lists or set up a Google filter to remove such emails). Do check your ‘Junk E-mail’ / ‘Spam’ folders, particularly as we begin to use Gmail,  in case messages that you wish to receive have been inadvertently sent here, again you can mark them as ‘Not spam’ to help Gmail learn.

 

Support

There is a range of additional support available, including our dedicated Gmail helpline 0117 92 88845 | internal 88845.

 

We are aware of a number of issues affecting some staff.  These are documented in our known issues page.

 

Many thanks

 

Nick Skelton

 

The University as a whole receives somewhere in the region of 250,000 emails a day. If you multiply this by the amount of staff we have and the length of time we’ve had a email system then this adds up to a significant number of emails that we have to transfer across to Google.

If we started migrating these emails on the actual day everyone gets access to their accounts, it’s likely that it wouldn’t be finished until sometime in 2014, completely unacceptable for the University. To work around this, we will be pre-migrating the majority of historical emails before we migrate people. Then, on the migration day itself, we will begin to migrate the newest emails.

On Monday, January 28th, we will take a ‘snapshot’ of all emails up to and including September 30th 2012. This includes individual accounts and shared mailboxes. After the 28th, you can continue to access these emails as normal, still reply to them, refile them etc – but any changes you make with them, as for example moving them into another folder or deleting them, will not be replicated across to Google.

You may wish to use the time between now and the 28th to ‘spring clean’ your emails in order to begin your access to the new Gmail service with a fresh and clean account!

Moving to Gmail will gives us several benefits:

  • Increased inbox quota – every staff member will have 25GB of space.
  • A modern, quick and easy to use email client that is based in the web – looks the same wherever you are.
  • Attach files up to 10GB in size – any file type.
  • Vastly improved mobile access – 2 clicks to set it up on Android, iOS and Windows devices.
  • Integrated email/calendar services – no more flicking between windows.
  • .. and many more!

If you want more information, please see our project website at  http://www.bristol.ac.uk/new-email and the new email support pages at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/email .

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact the team via new-email@bristol.ac.uk
Nick Skelton

Assistant Director IT Services (Infrastructure)

Here in the New Email / Google team, one of our main aims (other than providing an easy to use, modern and functional email service) is to ensure our users are protected from the spam, phishing (where they try to get your usernames/passwords) and virus emails that are sent to us. It’s a massive task – on any average workday, the University receives somewhere in the region of 250,000 emails and together they equal over 16GB in size.

As part of the move to Gmail in 2013, we had to carry out some preparatory work that involved changing the way we analyse, detect and block spam in the University – we knew that this might lead to a small increase in spam, but for many users it led to a large increase in spam, lowering their productivity and ability to work.

 

For that, we’re sorry. We understand the impact it has had on your working life and and we’re working hard to fix it.

 

We’re working to fix it in 2 ways:

1) We’ve accelerated the buying of licences for a serviced called Postini Message Discovery that we were always going to buy as part of the Google project. Postini offers us better email backup (from the 6months we have now, to a year) along with more sophisticated spam/virus filtering. On Monday this week we bought a licence for every staff member, every research postgraduate and every shared mailbox in the University. This means that since Monday we have been actively blocking a large percentage of email into the University, due to it being blatant and obvious spam.

2) With spam, there are often lots of edge cases – where it’s not obvious spam and might well be legitimate. To solve this problem, we’re using a series of old accounts (from staff that have long since left the University) that still receive spam and using these emails as a method to obtain spam that we’ll use to train our new systems up. Over a short period of time, our spam filters will learn what kind of spam the University receives and actively block it.

Now that we’ve been running with the 2 fixes for almost 5 days, we have noticed a big decrease in spam being delivered in the University. However, if you are still receiving lots of spam, we’d encourage you to report it to us via the IT Service Desk <service-desk@bristol.ac.uk>

 


Mally Mclane
Communication and Collaboration Services Manager
University of Bristol

 

 

 

 

(this blog is the 4th in a series of blogs from our IT Director, Tim Phillips around “Migrating to Gmail – the IT Director (i.e. an idiot’s) Guide”. You can find the other posts in the series at http://uobnewemail.blogs.ilrt.org/category/it-smt/)

Folders and search

I’ve realised is that my old way of working, using folders, is good if you are well organised but can be time consuming and relies on my having a pretty good idea of where I have filed stuff when I want to find it. This is how traditional email systems work too. Having migrated to gmail, I am then tempted to follow the same approach to files and filing but then gmail has a label called “All Mail”, which shows every email I have ever received or sent, so I can search through it all in one go, all 6,000 messages!

There’s a set of search instructions; see: https://mail.google.com/mail/help/intl/en/tips.html and there’s a useful crib file at: http://tinyurl.com/9o9ebn

The key to this is that Google is the leading internet search engine worldwide and so it shouldn’t be surprising that gmail has excellent search features. Consider that email is very simple: you send some information to me in the form of an email message and I reply. If either of us wants to go back over what we’ve said then we have to start by finding the messages. Filing them where we can find them is one way of helping that but if we know how to search in gmail then filing is less of a problem. I suspect there’s a happy medium and we need to file, label in gmail terminology, but not go overboard.

One thing I’ve found, which contrasts with my old way of workings, is that I still manage my inbox and try to keep it under control, with the added advantage of using stars to mark important messages, but I’ve kicked the habit of managing my sent mail. Sent mail in Google is literally that – everything you’ve ever sent – and so whilst I delete stuff, otherwise I just keep it and apply appropriate labels which are then visible as i look through my sent mail as well as from the “folder”, i.e. label view; being able to apply more than one label to the same label is quite powerful if you think of it as applying tags to aid retrieval later on; for the techies amongst us, that’s metadata.

 

Tim Phillips

Director of IT

The majority of students have now moved to the new University Google ’email for life’ account. If you’re one of them we hope that you are enjoying the significant quota and apps available.

However, if you are an undergraduate or taught postgraduate and have not already set up a Google provided University ’email for life’ account you should do so now. You can create one while a student at the University prior to 1 December 2012. After that date we plan to remove the existing student email service.

The Google ’email for life’ account is the new University email service for students and all students are expected to migrate to this service.

Instructions on the process and key information can be found at:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/about/projects/new-email/student-instructions

Remember that you will also be able to retain the account after graduation and use the email address @my.bristol.ac.uk.

Please note: creating the Google account will not migrate old emails.  All new emails sent to your @bristol.ac.uk address while a student at the University will go to your new Google ’email for life’ account.

You can access old emails via Squirrel Mail, Mulberry on the Student Remote Desktop or any email software you have set up to read your current University email. Please note that the MyBristol email channel will change to the Google ’email for life’ account.

If you want to continue to have access to old emails in the long term then you’ll need to transfer those messages to your new Google student ’email for life’ account. Information on how you can do that is available on the website above.

If you have any questions please see the email project FAQs at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/new-email or the email support pages at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/email/.

The IT Service Desk is also available to help.

Many thanks and we hope you enjoy using this service.

When we first started this project back in 2011, we assumed that people would want a traditional email client, one that is installed on your computer and is only accessible from that computer – because of the support for it that Google offered, this was to be Outlook 2010. However, we knew that people also needed to be able to access their email from, potentially, any location in the world – the obvious choice for this was the Gmail web client.

Early in 2012 we began developing processes that would allow us to deploy Outlook 2010, along with a user tool to configure it, to a user’s machine. The configuration of Outlook we had working would give a user access to their Gmail, it would sync their contacts and calendar, and also give them access to their shared mailboxes.  In testing, all seemed perfect and we made a plan to test it with the University Exams office, some 10 people, in May 2012.

During our pilot with the Exams Office, it became obvious that Outlook just didn’t cut the mustard for our users. Various problems came out of the testing:

  • You can only access Outlook, configured, on one computer – if you moved computers then you had to configure it all over again.
  • Tied identities – Whilst Outlook could handle different ‘From’ addresses, it could only put sent mails into the users main sent mailbox.
  • Vacation (out of office) messages still needed to be set up in Google.
  • Outlook could only access the email/calendar/contacts, it couldn’t access the other Google products we’ll be rolling out such as Docs, Chat and Groups. One of our goals on this project is to improve integration and with it, productivity. Having different products in different screens limits this.

Based on this, we went back and more closely evaluated the 2 clients we were offering people and identified further problems that people might encounter if they were to use Outlook with the Google service, we’ve made an effort to list them here:http://www.bristol.ac.uk/email/gmail/gmail-outlook/comparison.html

As we cannot guarantee a good user experience in Outlook, we are now only offering the Gmail web client as the primary access to our Google Email, Calendar, Docs, Chat and Contacts. In the main, this will also be delivered through a new browser for the University – Google Chrome, though they will also work equally well in the latest versions of Internet Explorer. Chrome is also available for Apple Macs and Linux machines, meaning supporting those users is easier.

A lot of people are wary about using webmail as they’ve not had a good experience of webmail at the University. Gmail is everything Squirrelmail isn’t – it’s reliable, it’s quick, it’s easy to use, it’s feature rich and it’s heavily integrated with all other Google products. Whilst we believe it is intutive and very easy to use, we have been developing and linking to lots of support material, you can them here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/email/gmail/staff-email.html

 

We hope you will look forward to using it when we migrate the University staff in 2013.

 

 

 

 

As previously reported, we’ve been re-planning when we roll out Google email & calendar. I’m glad to say that we have a new timetable. The timetable has been approved by the Portfolio Executive, who have provided additional resources in order to make the migration process for staff as smooth as possible.

A new timetable

In the last month the project team took soundings from 22 staff in different areas across the University. There was strong support for the project, with people keen to see the new system in place as soon as possible. We discussed several rollout options in detail, including a phased approach, department by department, and a more co-ordinated launch with most of the university moving at the same time. On timing the feedback ranged from “give me Google right now, I don’t mind if there are still some rough edges!” through to “email underpins everything I do and I’m in no hurry, put me last!”. Many people told us that there’s no ‘right’ way to do this. No matter when the rollout happens it will be at the wrong time for some. But a strong majority favoured a co-ordinated approach, with email & calendar coming close together and across the whole university at the same time.

As a result we have a new approach and new timetable – we plan to provide Google email & calendar across the University in the second quarter of 2013.

Pilots through the autumn and spring

As a result of feedback from our original pilots we need to re-test with shared mailboxes as part of the process.

Right now we’re doing the technical work necessary to migrate shared mailboxes to Google. This is about three months work. Then in November we will migrate all IT Services staff mail accounts and shared mailboxes to GMail. IT staff will then be best placed to help later when other staff groups migrate.

January 2013 we will have a Gmail user pilot with one support service unit, and in February 2013 a Gmail pilot with one academic school. In each case feedback from the pilot will improve the following pilot and then the launch to all.

We appreciate that for some people this timetable sounds very slow. For the keen, we’re considering arrangements for volunteers who want to migrate early. Some people are by nature early adopters who like to try something new and then champion it in their area, and are happy to put up with some rough edges. Having some early adopters out there will then help when we launch across the university.

We’ll open up an early adopter waiting list when we can, probably after November.

‘G-Day’ – Google launches for staff

After the pilots we will launch Gmail for all other staff on the same day. The precise date of ‘G-Day’ is still to be decided, but it will be some time in Q2 2013. On G-Day all individual staff accounts will move to Google, as well as nearly all our shared mailboxes.

Technically we will be using a different approach to that previously planned. We are now planning to pre-create Google accounts before G-Day, and start copying messages into the new system in advance. We will bring in expertise from an external firm to do this data migration for us. This substantially speeds up the migration, and makes the process easier for email users.

Organizationally, we’ll gear up our documentation and training to provide a big push when you need it, very close to the launch. This will include events such as roadshows, a website, & printed quick reference materials. Google email & calendar is pretty easy to use, and most people won’t want to need or go on a traditional sit down training course. We will also provide some training targeted at particular power users, such as PAs, and help for particular groups like Site Services whose work patterns are different from the norm.

As well as email, other Google functionality such as Contacts and Docs will be also be available on G-Day. Approx 1 month after G-Day we migrate existing appointments from Oracle Calendar to Google Calendar, and switch to using Google as our shared calendar system. So email & calendar will launch as close together as we can.

After G-Day

There are some tasks we are deliberately leaving until after G-Day. This is so we can get the benefits out there for all early, while still providing individual help where it’s most needed. These include:

* Teams who are using shared mailboxes in particularly unusual and complex ways. For example some teams within RED use email as a document repository and workflow system. Email is not the only or best way to do this, but previously it’s the only tool we’ve had available. In Google there are a variety of tools teams can use. So for these cases we’ll work with the teams individually after G-Day to find the best solution.

* The local email servers in some departments (Computer Science, Physics, & the School of Social & Community Medicine). Staff in these areas will still get a Google account on G-Day along with everyone else, but we may need to do extra work with them afterwards to archive and migrate their historic email.

Further developments & feedback

There’s huge interest in the email & calendar project, and I hope this goes some way to explain what will happen next. There will be more news to follow over the following months, but in the meantime if you’d like to get in touch you can contact the team as always at new-email@bristol.ac.uk

Nick Skelton,
Assistant Director IT Services (Infrastructure)

In May we communicated with staff that feedback from pilots of the new email service and consultation with key users had highlighted a number of issues, in particular:

  • shared mailboxes need to be integrated with the launch of  email
  • the migration process (moving emails from the old email service to the new one) needed to be simple
  • use of both Gmail and Outlook (to get full functionality) was confusing
In light of these issues we have decided  to delay the implementation of the new Google email service to allow us to provide a better solution to meet the needs of staff.  In light of the work needed it is estimated that the migration of staff to the new service will now take place from early 2013.Our focus over for the rest of the year will include:

  • Developing and planning the migration of  shared mailboxes, rather than managing it as a follow-on project.  This is a complex area covering a range of different requirements and with a number of possible solutions.
  • Documenting the Google web service as the main platform to access the new email, calendar and other related Google services
  • Conducting more, and bigger, pilots to refine the process and improve documentation and support
  • Continuing with work to prepare Google Calendar for implementation across the University with appropriate support and documentation
  • Planning the best approach to move staff to the new services. The desire to launch services once ready is balanced against the technical challenges of migrating significant amounts of data which takes time.
We will keep all staff updated of developments on a regular basis and information will be published on the project website http://www.bris.ac.uk/new-email/ and project blog
http://uobnewemail.blogs.ilrt.org/.Thank you for your patience and cooperation in implementing this change.  If you have any feedback please contact the project team at  new-email@bristol.ac.uk.

Many thanks

Nick Skelton,

Assistant Director IT Services (Infrastructure)

There’s an old joke about the traveller lost in the countryside, who ask a local for directions, and gets the reply, “Now, Oi wouldn’t be after startin’ from here…”

We have a similar situation with staff email at the university. We have a large number of mail clients in use (Mulberry, Squirrelmail, Outlook, Thunderbird, even the text-based Pine from 1989). Most people receive their email from a central staff server, but some from another half dozen departmental servers.

We know where we want to get to – everyone on the same email and calendar system, with modern email software, that works on your desktop, mobile, or anywhere over the web. But it sometimes feels as if we don’t want to start from here…

So, how do we make progress? People have been very keen to get a new email system. We are trying to deliver the most benefit to the most users, as soon as possible. Our approach has been to manage the project in achievable chunks, on the principle that you don’t eat an elephant all at once. We thought of the project in three main strands: individual staff email accounts starting May 2012, moving everyone to Google calendar together in early 2013, and then migrating the shared mailboxes used by teams after that.

Over the last month or so we’ve been piloting the Google staff email service in some areas of support services. We’ve used two main clients to access Google email – Microsoft Outlook 2010 on the desktop, and the Gmail web interface in your browser. We haven’t hit any showstopper problems, and have had some very positive feedback on Google from the staff who have migrated. But we’ve also had lots of little issues, and one big one – shared mailboxes. Shared mailboxes are email accounts used by a team which several people have access to. Most staff at Bristol don’t use shared mailboxes, but those teams who do rely on them heavily.

We had planned an interim solution for shared mailboxes – we set up Microsoft Outlook to connect to both individual email accounts hosted at Google, and shared mailboxes hosted locally. But when we tested that for real with our pilot groups we found that Outlook just didn’t meet peoples requirements. If you have both a shared mailbox and an individual mailbox you want separate signatures, from addresses, and sent folders for each. But this is very clunky in Outlook. For example by default all your email goes in the same sent folder, no matter which account you send it from. Overall Outlook just didn’t work well enough to keep our pilot users happy.

We had always planned to replace our local shared mailboxes in time. Within Google options include Google Delegated Accounts and Google Groups. It was just that migrating shared mailboxes into Google was planned as a later stage of the project, with us migrating individual accounts first.

So now we are going back to look at this again. Email is essential for everyone at the University. It’s very important that we get this right, and provide as smooth an experience as possible. Can we bring forward work on migrating shared mailboxes to Google? Do we need to work more closely with individual departments, and migrate whole teams of people and the shared mailboxes for those teams at the same time, rather than letting staff opt into Google at different times?

The upshot of this is that email migration did not open to Support Services (IT Zone F) staff on 28th May as originally planned. We are already in touch with some areas who are keen to go next and help us test migrating their shared mailboxes to Google. Updated timelines will depend on how those tests go, so we don’t have timelines for other departments yet. But we’ll publish more on here and on the project website as we make progress. We know staff are keen to get Google as soon as possible – in the meantime thank you for bearing with us a little longer.

Nick Skelton, Assistant Director IT Services (Infrastructure)

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