NextGen Michigan

Collaboration FAQ

Contact us to submit a question you would like to see answered on this FAQ. Please note that this document is intended to provide general information about the Collaboration project. Answers to specific questions re: the migration to Google and how to use various apps and tools are available on the project support site,

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Project Background

  1. Provide the U-M community with a contemporary, secure, and customizable personal productivity and group collaboration environment that can be continually improved and expanded.
  2. Reduce as many barriers as possible to collaboration anytime, anyplace, and with anyone in the world having Internet access.
  3. Directly serve the academic mission of the university, while supporting administrative functions in the most cost-effective way possible.
  1. Existing strong U-M partnership
  2. Overwhelming percentage of market share, including high usage by many U-M higher education peers
  3. Pervasive tools for which many other vendors have complementary and compatible products
  4. Maturity of existing offerings
  5. Ability to act as service provider (cloud computing services) as well as a product provider
  6. Substantial resources committed to new product and service development
  7. Large number of U-M students, faculty, and staff that already use various components of one or both of these suites

The selection process, which took place over a nine-month period from March to November 2010, was governed by the IT Council and overseen by the Unit IT Steering Committee. It included public on-campus presentations by the two vendor finalists, Google and Microsoft, as well as input from students, faculty, and staff via a campus-wide survey. In December 2010 the IT Council unanimously endorsed the Unit IT Steering Committee's recommendation of Google as the university's provider for a suite of collaborative tools. The U-M IT Executive Committee considered and approved the recommendation in January 2011. The NextGen site contains more details about the process.

U-M and Google finalized their agreement in late October, 2011. The term of the agreement is for 10 years.

The business case cost analysis and financial projections for the project estimate that for an initial investment of $1.8 million the university will realize ongoing cost savings of approximately $750,000 annually. Savings will be achieved through the elimination of non-productive, redundant services, some decrease in infrastructure expenditures, and through leveraging the delivery options of Google's cloud computing services.

Except for some limited specialty features, such as enhanced security and archiving, nothing. Google Apps for Education is provided at no charge to U-M.

The university recently engaged a Google Partner (Appirio) to assist with developing the full-scale Google Apps deployment strategy and plan coupled with a technical solution architecture. We are also moving forward with identifying, updating, and creating training and communications materials for the roll-out as well as putting adequate support systems into place to assure that the migration goes as smoothly as possible. You can view a high-level timeline and check project status on the main Collaboration Project page.

Planning and Migration

A detailed migration plan should be complete by the end of November and will be posted on the project website when it becomes available. At this time the high-level plan calls for two pilots to run between December 2011 and February 2012. Starting in early March, Ann Arbor campus students and U-M Online subscribers will have to August 2012 to self-migrate their email and calendar information. Starting in May 2012, the rest of the Ann Arbor campus will roll out in phases throughout the remainder of the calendar year.

All three will get the collaboration tools. Due to various federal regulations that control how restricted data is handled, a number of groups—such as the Health System and some health service and research units—will not migrate to Google email and calendar. The Collaboration Project team will work with these units to identify alternate email and calendar services. In addition, these users should not use Google tools to collect, process, or store Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) or other restricted data. UM-Dearborn will get Google email and calendar, and will migrate following the Ann Arbor campus. UM-Flint will not use Google email and calendaring at this time.

Once the selection was made, the contract with Google and extensive project planning had to be drafted, reviewed, and approved. The Collaboration Project team received planning approval from the IT Executive Council in late July, at which point the technical details of the actual migration process began. The final contract with Google was signed in late October.

The vast majority of U-M end users will not need to anything for now. As your migration date approaches, you might need to complete some preparatory work, depending on your current email and calendaring configurations. The Collaboration Project team will be in contact with your unit IT and administrative staff weeks in advance to help coordinate the technical details of the move. In addition, you can expect a series of communications beginning six weeks before your move that will include information about the migration timeline, links to training resources, and detailed instructions for preparation. See the Migration section of the project site's Questions & Answers section for more information.

No. If you do not currently have a Gmail account you do not need to create one. Your current U-M address will be activated in Gmail once you are migrated. Those who currently have a Gmail account can continue using it.

We have created a dedicated project website,, that contains everything you will need to know to prepare: calendars, schedules, contacts, and an extensive archive of training materials and resources. In addition, the project team will provide instructor-led training, hands-on labs, and select one-on-one training.

Existing email and calendar data will be migrated for faculty and staff. Tools and documentation for self-migration will be provided to students and U-M Online subscribers.

There will be opportunities for student and staff "Google Guides" who would be willing to provide support and mentoring to colleagues during the roll-out to Google. Please contact us to let us know about your interest.

Features and Tools

The suite of Google Apps for Education slated for implementation next year will provide a wide variety of tools to improve collaboration. Other services could be made available as the campus community identifies, evaluates, and makes recommendations for adding apps to the collaboration suite. The list currently includes:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Docs: multi-user, concurrent editing of web-based documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations
  • Sites: build and publish private (or public) web sites using a WYSIWYG editor or HTML
  • Contacts and Groups: quickly and easily add contacts — plus, any group created or modified in MCommunity can be updated in Google Groups, making it easy to set-up mailing lists and create discussion groups
  • Blogger: publish and maintain blogs
  • Talk: text and voice chat service

Note: Due to various federal regulations that control how restricted data is handled, a number of U-M groups—such as the Health System and some health service and research units—will not migrate to Google email and calendaring services. However, these users will be provisioned with the other collaboration tools listed above, although they should not use Google tools to collect, process, or store Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) or other restricted data.

Yes. The functionality and benefits of such useful tools as Docs, Blogger, Sites, etc. should not be diminished by not having a shared email or calendar system. U-M currently supports multiple, incompatible calendaring platforms. The ability to see and share calendar information is certainly advantageous, and moving to the Google platform will improve the situation for most U-M users. The work flow for users on different calendaring platforms would remain essentially the same as it is now for those that don't share common platforms.

For now, Google Voice (one number for phones and online voicemail) will not be available. ITS will continue to support campus voicemail through its existing systems. In the future, Google might support the U-M voice systems and we would then re-evaluate the use of Google Voice. Google+ is one of the apps that we might be able to provide in the future, pending further evaluation.

If by "access" you mean that you are currently forwarding your umich mail to a personal Gmail account, that functionality will continue after the transition. If you're using POP to pull your umich mail into your Gmail account, you will still be able to do that too—although some account settings will need to be updated. In either case, you will be provided with an online tool that will allow you to make these selections (as well as others) as part of the pre-migration process that will happen weeks in advance of each unit's scheduled transition to Google.

Yes, CTools will continue as the U-M course management software. The open-source community that plans for new enhancements anticipates that in the future U-M users will be able to access various Google tools from within CTools. The IT executive committee also endorsed moving to Sakai (the open-source foundation that is responsible for the software platform that powers CTools) Open Academic Environment, the next generation of the open-source learning management platform.

SharePoint is not part of the Collaboration project. It has been recommended that another project be initiated at some time in the future to address the consolidation and ongoing support of SharePoint.

Yes, the current IMAP ( servers will ultimately be retired, but only after all migrations have been completed and with ample advance notice.

The Exchange mail servers operated by ITS will eventually be retired, but only after all migrations have been completed and with ample advance notice. However, there will be cases where Exchange systems will remain. For example, due to various federal regulations that control how patient data is handled, MCIT will manage an instance of Microsoft Exchange/​Outlook on behalf of the Health System.

That feature is controlled by the university. Google would only be able serve ads on U-M pages with the permission of the university. U-M has no plans to allow outside advertising on its domain pages.

No. At this time there are no plans to allow any type of advertising on U-M domain pages.


This is a matter of importance to U-M officials that is being addressed prior to migration. The university is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and access for all members of the university community and to compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In March 2011, The National Federation of the Blind requested that the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, investigate New York University (NYU) and Northwestern University for civil rights violations against blind faculty and students. The NFB complaint asserts that Google Apps for Education, which each campus has adopted as campus technology, is not accessible for blind campus community members. Read the NFB press release.

On September 14, a post appeared on the Official Google Blog announcing improvements to Google Docs, Sites, and Calendar. The NFB responded positively the next day, and provided a more detailed review of Google's accessibility improvements a week later.

For its part, Google has committed to resolve many of the issues which prompted the NFB complaint by December 2011. The university will review and test the accessibility of Google Apps for Education prior to its final pilot in February 2012 and will only move forward if Google has adequately met its obligations. Google provides specifics on the current status of accessibility of its products and its adherence to international standards on its website.

Go to the Resources for Accessibility section of the M+Google project site.

Security and Privacy

There is strong awareness that some faculty and researchers have raised concerns about data security and privacy, both for Google specifically and for cloud computing services more generally. A university task force was charged in 2009 to consider privacy and data security issues related to moving university services such as email and submitted a final report with detailed recommendations in May 2010. Task force membership was drawn from faculty technology experts, senior administrators of departments responsible for institutional data, and the U-M attorney primarily devoted to information technology issues. Learn more from Google's Apps for Education security and privacy web page and their security and privacy FAQ. Also be sure to visit Security and Privacy in the U-M Google Environment.

The Office of the CIO has issued an IT Standard that establishes mandatory expectations for faculty and staff for complying with statutory and regulatory requirements related to protecting sensitive regulated data. To assist in making this assessment, faculty and staff can see at a glance whether a specific data type is permissible to be maintained in the Google environment by viewing Permitted & Restricted Uses of Sensitive Regulated Data for Non-U-M Services. More specifics are available in the Sensitive Regulated Data Permitted & Restricted Uses FAQ.

For questions or concerns regarding compliance with restricted data regulations and migration to Google, contact Also be sure to visit Security and Privacy in the U-M Google Environment.

Google Apps for Education is ad-free and the content on the Google umich domain will be not processed by Google's advertising systems. You can learn more about security and privacy as it relates to Google Apps for Education by visiting Security & Privacy — Google Apps for Education and About Google Apps > Security and privacy.

Overseas staff should be able to access their Google accounts by using the university's Virtual Private Network (VPN) so that their traffic is routed through U-M's IP space, which is not normally blocked. Users who plan to work overseas should configure their systems and be familiar with U-M's VPN before leaving for their assignments.