Yale University has postponed its switch to Google Apps after a student and faculty uprising. Fortunately for Google, the problem does not seem to be that everyone concluded that Google Apps suck. Rather, it seems to be the common concern that Google Apps don’t give an organisation enough control and security with respect to its data.
If Google wants to continue to disrupt Microsoft Office, it’s going to have to find a way to put these concerns to rest.
The changeover to Google as Yale’s e-mail provider has been put on hold.
Information Technology Services has decided to postpone the University’s move from the Horde Webmail service to Google Apps for Education, a suite of communication and collaboration tools for universities, pending a University-wide review process to seek input from faculty and students. After a series of meetings with faculty and administrators in February, ITS officials decided to put the move on hold, Deputy Provost for Science and Technology Steven Girvin said.
“There were enough concerns expressed by faculty that we felt more consultation and input from the community was necessary,” he said in an e-mail to the News…
Several members of the committee thought ITS had made the decision to move to Gmail too quickly and without University approval, Fischer said.
“People were mainly interested in technical questions like the mechanics of moving, wondering ‘Could we do it?’ ” he said. “But nobody asked the question of ‘Should we do it?’ “
Fischer said concerns about the switch to Gmail fell into three main categories: problems with “cloud computing” (the transfer of information between virtual servers on the Internet), technological risks and downsides, and ideological issues.
Google stores every piece of data in three centres randomly chosen from the many it operates worldwide in order to guard the company’s ability to recover lost information — but that also makes the data subject to the vagaries of foreign laws and governments, Fischer said. He added that Google was not willing to provide ITS with a list of countries to which the University’s data could be sent, but only a list of about 15 countries to which the data would not be sent.
“Yale is an international, multicultural community of scholars,” he said. “Students deserve to have rights to their information while on campus.”
But even if all data were kept on American soil, Google’s size and visibility as a company makes it more susceptible to attack from individuals, ranging from hackers to company insiders, Fischer said.