As more wonderful solutions proliferate in schools, it’s great to come in on the tail end of a conversation and see how others are sharing what works for them. For example, an email request came in from one Texas Technology Director and immediately received several responses.

Here’s the request (all questions/responses anonymized to protect the innocent):

I am looking at replacing our traditional Exchange server this summer with a cloud-based email solution that will be E-Rate eligible.  I just know that the costs are not comparable to continue to maintain an in house system.  Could you please tell me what product you are using for your managed email services, and if you truly think it is better than “sliced bread”?

The responses appear below:

Google Apps. Sliced bread is pretty darn awesome, but for a small district with limited resources and personnel, having Google maintain the servers comes real close.

Then, another district tech director jumped into the conversation with the question:

What’s the maximum users Google can handle?

And the responses to that follow-up:

I have 350 students on Google email but I can add up to 500 before I have to request more. I only have 102 staff email addresses but each has 25 gig storage. I think Google is unlimited you just request what you need. BUT make sure you have the bandwidth if you start using it for students and staff (we are moving from 6mb to 20mb because of it) But over all it have been a VERY good move and it is FREE…


We are in the investigatory and testing stages of Google Docs for Education, but I also understand it is unlimited and you just ask for more.  To avoid going back so fast to ask, I requested 61,000 accounts and received them.  It did take a number of days for them to do it though, probably almost a week.  I had opened a ticket finally to follow-up on it with them.


We were an Exchange shop for about a decade, then in 2009 we went with Google Apps, mainly after suffering for a few days of outage in 2008 with Hurricane Ike.  We had went round and round trying to do a hosted Exchange but Google had a no charge offer which included spam filtering, I couldn’t resist and I’m glad I didn’t.  The biggest change in going to Google was getting people away from the Outlook client (you don’t have to but to really take advantage of “in the cloud” you might want to think about it).  Leaving behind the weekly Exchange chores I did not regret a bit.  

Email has now become a very reliable service that no longer gives me worries.  Lots of storage, hosted for free, cool interface and Google is always looking for ways to improve the service.  I love it.  Plus with that Google account you can add services such as Aviary and Sliderocket that are all the buzz, and they integrate with your Google login.  Its also easy to configure for every mobile device roaming the streets and halls.  We have had very few downsides….some of our old Xerox’s that are on the network have trouble emailing to secure http but there is a way around that also.  No regrets.

So, to review:

  • What’s as good as sliced bread for email for students and staff? GoogleApps for Education
  • How many users can you have? Unlimited amount.
  • How long does it take to setup? Anywhere from a week to two weeks but you can always submit a ticket if you need a status update.
  • Email+ Other Great stuff? You can add Aviary and Sliderocket apps to GoogleApps for all users.
  • How much does it cost? FREE.
Of course, this is a cloud-based solution. Do you have an exit strategy? If not, you may want to consider Henry Thiele’s post on this subject.

What folks really need to ask themselves, though, is why aren’t they using FREE when education jobs are on the line? The simple answer is for some, “It’s out of my comfort zone and I don’t want to learn something aside from MS Exchange.” Of course, they’ll never admit to it.

Already, an estimated 294,000 jobs in the education sector have been lost since 2008, including those in higher education.Source: Already Financially Hurting School Districts Brace for More Cuts Ahead, The Washington Post

It’s the economy….

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure