5 Considerations for moving from Novell GroupWise to Google Apps
We asked Matthew Brown, Technology expert, Novell Guru and all round brilliant guy, for his advice to companies thinking of making the move from Groupwise to Google Apps. Did we also mentioned that he is our oldest employee? Yup, he knows what he 's talking about.
- Where is your data? Ironically companies have the perception that their data is 'safer' in their own data centers than in the cloud. The reality, as anyone who has made the move knows, is quite the opposite. In fact many Novell Groupwise customers I have worked with over the years don't even know where their data is! This is because Groupwise, like many traditional email solutions, requires users to archive their data locally. Sometimes the location is predetermined by the Groupwise Admin, but in many cases it is not, leading to a proliferation of individual message archives lying about on laptops, thumb drives, home PCs and even (in one case) on a client's machine! This presents a challenge when migrating to Google Apps; customers need to go and locate all the message archives that their employees have created and get them checked in to a single location so that they can be safely transferred to Google's cloud. Not an easy task if you have a few hundred staff - almost impossible if you have thousands, so make sure you allocate time and resources to this task if you want (or are required) to keep your historical email records intact.
- You win some, you lose some. Any company moving from Groupwise to Google Apps needs to be aware that they will, in fact, lose some functionality they have come to like over the years. Read Receipts (receiving notification that someone has read a message you have sent them) is not something that is supported by Google Apps today, and probably the number one 'dislike' we hear from customers who have moved over from Groupwise. However, while things are lost, things are also gained. Top 'likes' include search capabilities (no surprises there), integration with chat, video and voice, access anywhere capabilities and great support for mobility. Most people who have made the move say that the likes outweigh the dislikes by a long shot and we can be sure Google is fast closing the gap on the dislikes even as we speak. In the meantime, it does pay to educate your users before the move so they know what to expect.
- Who should you trust? Single Sign On becomes an important consideration as you move from Groupwise to Google Apps. You don't want your users to have to remember new login details, and need a familiar and standardized process to keep all your applications up to date with the right credentials. And the good news is that you have multiple options to work with here. Novell offers some of the best identity and access management solutions in the business, so abandoning Groupwise doesn't mean you have to abandon Novell entirely. If you want to look at other options for making sure the right people are accessing the right data, new cloud-based identify management solutions such as the one from Ping Identity seem to be gaining popularity too.
- Preach to the converted! Every organization has technology evangelists - and they are not just in the IT department!. There will be employees who are the first to buy and iphone, or use foursquare, or tweet the minutiae of their daily lives. And these will be the people who are probably already using gmail, or a similar cloud based collaboration service for their own personal use. So round these people up, and get them on to a pilot before anyone else. 10 - 35 people is usually enough, and yes, a lot of them will be in the IT department, but try to get a representative sample of the entire employee spectrum. Within no time, these people will be singing the virtues of 'Going Google', and better still they will show their colleagues what fun they are having. Nothing is more motivating than being inspired by, or perhaps jealous of, a co-worker and pretty soon your mission to generate interest in the new solution will have gone viral.
- You just forwarded a 5MB attachment to a dozen people. Really? Once you have finished the migration you will find that old habits, like forwarding large attachments and waiting for them to be revised and sent back, die hard. Google Apps (and any other cloud based collaboration system like Dropbox) make attachment forwarding not just unnecessary, but inefficient and wasteful. But does that mean that employees will immediately embrace the art of real time document collaboration. No. It will take time, and they will need training. The best way to achieve rapid adoption of Google Apps is to borrow from the world of viral marketing, by first identifying and training 'Alpha users'. These are employees who would be expected to quickly embrace and evangelize the benefits of Google Apps. They might be more tech savvy employees from the IT department, or people who are already using Google and the cloud for personal use, or perhaps it is younger employees (but then, I wasn't that young when I first used Google and I haven't looked back). Get your Alpha users fired up about Google Apps and the rest should be easy.
Migrating from Groupwise needs careful consideration, but with the right approach it can be done quickly and with minimal disruption to your business. Need to know more about moving from Novell Groupwise to Google Apps? Contact us or read our groupwise to google apps case study.