Is Ryerson Ready to Go Google?

Last March we asked the Ryerson community what you want from Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems. We conducted a survey and many of you also took the time to comment on this blog. Here are just a few of the survey comments we received:

  • “Search functionality across all folders, unlike RMail, where you have to search one folder at a time.”
  • “Threaded E-Mail to group replies together”
  • “large attachment size and storage”
  • “I need a system that makes it easy to send things to groups – teacher groups, student groups, research teams.”
  • “I want my name and e-mail address protected so that only people with Ryerson accounts would be able to access the information.  It should not be readily available to the general public.”
  • “Good junk filters.”
  • “Almost anything would be better than Groupwise ;-)”
  • “If calendaring would allow me to post potential meeting times with students that they could sign up for, that would be great.”
  • “SWITCH TO GMAIL! Google Docs is awesome! The calendar is awesome! Google Labs is awesome!
  • “Micro$oft Please!!!    Gmail sucks especially in China!”
  • “The existing system meets my needs; there is no need to change it.”
  • “it would be nice to have iPhone sync features.”
  • “It is critical that I can control who can see specifics in my schedule versus that I’m simply ‘busy’, but without seeing any details.”
  • “I’ve used external Wikis to do group collaboration.  It would be great if it could be done internally, instead.”
  • “google docs is what I would like to see in house at Ryerson.”
  • “Online voice and video conference would be useful, especially for graduate students.”

There were hundreds of other comments. We reviewed them all and incorporated your feature requests into a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a New Collaboration Platform for Ryerson. We also added significant sections on accessibility, security, privacy, ownership of data, mail opt out options, legal jurisdictions, and the Patriot Act. The RFP was posted on August 22, 2011 and closed on October 3rd. The proposals Ryerson received were evaluated by a committee that included representatives from Computing and Communications Services, a representative from faculty, and a student representative.

The committee reached a consensus to accept two proposals based on Google Apps for Education. The only difference between the proposals is which third party system integrator may help Ryerson setup, customize, and migrate mail and calendar events to Google Apps for Education.

Google Apps for Education is not the same as Google’s consumer service. The Apps for Education service  allows you to keep your address, does not data mine your Email or show you ads. Gmail provides 25 GB of storage space and Apps for education includes a University-wide calendar system, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Talk, etc.

Does this mean Ryerson will replace its Email and calendaring systems with Google Apps for Education? The RFP was part of a larger consultation process. For background information please see:

The proposals that were accepted will help form part of a recommendation that will go to Ryerson’s executive for approval.

However, before we make a recommendation to the executive, we’d like to put a draft recommendation before you to see what you think. We will be holding two Town Halls where we will present our recommendations:

  • Monday November 14 at 11:00 AM in L72
  • Friday November 25 at 9 AM in L72

We hope you can join us. We plan to record at least one of the sessions and encourage you to participate by posting questions and comments here on this blog.
We also plan to post a draft recommendation for you to review on this site soon.

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31 Responses to Is Ryerson Ready to Go Google?

  1. Kareem says:

    After seeing how it works at UAlberta I hope we move to Google.

    Groupwise is so slow and buggy (especially for Mac) that moving to a system that will work on all systems, phones etc would be a blessing.

    I will definitely try to make it out for one of these town halls!


  2. Bhavik says:

    Typically how long do these meeting last?

  3. Brian Lesser says:

    We’ve booked L72 for two hours on each day. I don’t think the presentation part is likely to be more than an hour.

  4. Dave Jones says:

    The clear choice is obviously Google Apps.
    GApps is compatible with Android, iOS (iPhone, iPod, iPad), Blackberry, Windows, Apple computers and Linux. This means whether you have a smartphone, or any type of laptop, you can easily access GApps.
    I can go on and on about why Ryerson should go with Gapps….
    I hope they make the switch soon, I am sick of the current Rmail and Blackboard, they are way to dull and depressing.

  5. Corbin Smith says:

    Can be at the meetings, but +1 for Google Apps.

  6. Sandra Wong says:

    It’s an excellent idea as Google is widely used tool within the technology community.

    I find Blackboard confusing and performance is not the best at times.

  7. Carl says:

    What I understand from the posting is that the Town Hall meetings are not for discussion about the pros/cons of switching to Google Apps, but for discussion on the two options on how to “migrate” to Google Apps. I’m not sure if input from users would be of much value in choosing the migration path. Isn’t this more of a technical question that would be best addressed by IT professionals in CCS instead of users.

    Am I misunderstanding the purpose of the Town Hall meetings?

  8. Val says:

    By much will tuition change from dropping the existing system and adopting the new one?

    Only then, I can decide if this is worth it or not.


    • Brian Lesser says:

      Alas, I doubt very much that this will make any difference in the tuition you pay. Our proposal, which I hope to publish tomorrow, includes keeping the RMail system running for those few who need to opt out. Even if every department at Ryerson that runs an Email system were to retire it, Ryerson still must administer the Google system and would likely just redeploy staff. The big savings are in money we are not spending today and will not have to spend in the future in order to provide things like calendaring, instant messaging, and real-time collaborative document editing and reviewing.

  9. Phil says:

    While I can appreciate the Google strenghts in search and social I am somewhat surprised that we have not seriously considered MS. MS products in office 365 are ranked highest by independent analysts, still have the highest proportion of the business market and are likely the tools students will be expected to work with. While MS is not great in consumer space they are still by far the dominant player in the enterprise and for a reason.

  10. Concerned student says:

    If we migrate to an externally hosted email system, especially one based in the US, are we not exposing ourselves to security risks? The Patriot Act allows the US government to monitor any and all digital communications that occur within its borders (and who knows about outside them). Since the Google servers we would be situated on would reside in NSA/CIA/etc jurisdiction, does that not violate the contractual obligation of Ryerson University to only allow access to grades/etc. to faculty, students and the registrar only? Just curious to see how this was anticipated in the RFP.

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Personally, I don’t think so. The Patriot Act doesn’t work that way and American law enforcement agencies are capable of obtaining information from Canada via reciprocal arrangements with Canadian law enforcement agencies. Add in Canadian anti-terrorism legislation and Google’s superior IT security and things start to look very different. Here’s a quick summary of a Symposium we hosted on this issue: Highly recommended reading and a big thanks to Dan Michaluk, of Hicks Morley, for writing it up.

  11. salustri says:

    I’m in favour of moving to Google Apps.
    Unfortunately, I’m otherwise booked for both the consultations. But I know enough about Google that I’m fully behind the idea.
    (I already redirect all my email through gmail, I use blogger, gcal, greader, and gdocs. I’m even on Google+…. Google’s not let me down.)

  12. Chad says:

    I can’t tell you how excited I am. Minutes turn into hours of wasted time as Groupwise lags, freezes constantly. I’m so excited for Google Apps.

    With the GW departure can we also ditch notifylink and have Google Apps push to our Blackberry devices?

  13. Eric says:

    Having been at NYU when they switched to Google I can say first hand it was a fantastic decision.

    The only gripe I, and many others had, was that only one Google account could be signed in at the same time. Since most people would like their personal account signed in as well as their school/work account, they would have to choose between one or the other (or use different browsers).

  14. Susan Dean says:

    you can have more than 1 gmail open at a time. At the top right hand corner of gmail where it says your name, there is a pull down menu, at the bottom of the menu it says ‘switch accounts’, that lets you sign into an additional account and switch back and forth.

  15. Tobin says:

    Would addresses remain at

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Yes, E-mail addresses would not change. We could also manage subdomains like or if those folks want us to.

  16. Staff says:

    Would it make sending out group emails to students easier?
    Would it affect blackboard at all?

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Depending on how we set things up it might be a lot easier to use Google Groups to send email to students. We’re still looking into that. The initial effect on Blackboard is likely to be people using Google tools to collaborate and discuss things instead of Blackboard’s lacklustre discussion forum. If we go forward with Google we’ll have to think about if we should continue with Blackboard or if we should consider other learning management systems.

  17. Mr. X says:

    Why don’t people just use email forwarding from their Ryerson email address to Gmail?

    What are the costs of the proposed systems?

    Can Google create an all-in-one community calendar for every student group on campus?

    • Brian Lesser says:

      > Why don’t people just use email forwarding from their Ryerson email address to Gmail?

      A little over 16,000 people forward their Rmail to outside Ryerson. We don’t know how many people pull their mail out of Ryerson into Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. One advantage of signing an agreement with Google (if we get that far) is that Google will agree in writing that you own your data and that they will protect it. They will not do any data mining and will not show you ads. There are other advantages such as being able to easily (with permission) find and book people within the same calendar system, easy to setup document collaboration and so forth.

      > What are the costs of the proposed systems?

      Google does not charge anything unless we find the 25 GB inbox is too small or someone needs mail archiving features. So the cost is zero.

      > Can Google create an all-in-one community calendar for every student group on campus?

      Google calendar can do that. It would be up to the groups to decide to use it.

  18. - says:

    This comment was removed at the request of the person who posted it.

  19. Cynthia says:

    Would love to have the functionality of gmail, since groupwise is so clunky, but I’m afraid that Google’s TOS may not comply with FIPPA.

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