Google-Based Email Arrives in the East
Greetings to the Populace of the Kingdom of the East from the Office of the Webministry!
There have been, over the last 9 months or so, various references made to “Google for Non-Profits” in a variety of places. If you haven’t seen them, that’s fine, but if you have it has been awfully vague. It is time to no longer be vague.
Back in March we began a relationship with Google for Non-Profits (hereafter GfNP), the free service that Google provides to 501(c)(3) organizations. The GfNP service suite includes nearly every service that Google provides, such as GMail, Google Calendar, Google Forms, etc. Since then we have been slowly and carefully planning out just how we are going to manage moving more than 700 email accounts spread over ~70 branches plus the Kingdom itself so as to minimize the pain and suffering. We all went through the last East Kingdom Server migration, we do not wish to go through that pain again.
At this time there are no plans to replace the Kingdom Events Calendar with Google Calendar, or to move websites over to Google Sites. Google Calendar can certainly be leveraged by Officers or Branches to provide calendaring services themselves. Using Google Sites would be much more difficult and at this time is not on the table.
There are, however, plans to make use of Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Sheets, … probably others I don’t even know of. … but that’s phase 2. Phase 1 is email.
We have been working hard on planning and on doing everything we can to make the system we are moving to as easy to use as possible. We are just beginning to test with actual user accounts within the Webministry, and soon we will be sending out a request to all of the local branches and Kingdom Offices for information about your people who need accounts. This is where the first enormous change comes in to play: we will be creating accounts for individuals, not for offices. Thus, one individual who happens to hold 4 different offices will have 1 email account to check. When sending email, that individual would have to choose which office they are sending from, but replying to existing email will handle it for them. So we need to know who all of your people are, where in the past we needed to know what Offices you had.
The second enormous change is that Google has the resources to do effective SPAM filtering, where we simply don’t.
So in the near future, all branch Seneschals and Webministers should be receiving that request for information about your officers, as should all Kingdom Officers to report on their staff. During November, we are planning on migrating the first branch or two, starting with small branches with very technical Webministers so we can work the bugs out of the migration process before we go and inflict it on all the rest of you. With any luck, we won’t need more than two test branches as we streamline the process. This is also the part where we write up the instructions for everyone. Don’t worry, we have a technical trainer on staff now who will make sure that we write in English instead of IT-gobbledygook, we understand that for most of our Populace that isn’t a language you speak.
Once things are known to be working smoothly, we will start ramping up moving more branches each week. The Kingdom itself, for a huge variety of reasons, has to go last. We’re willing to commit that this migration will be completed during the reign of Their Majesties Ivan and Matilde, but we’re going to move as fast as we reasonably can once we get started. As much as we want this done, we want it done *right* even more.
Joel Messerer (formerly known as “of Vestfell”)
East Kingdom Deputy Webminister of Services