Google Apps and Google Search Appliance help University College Dublin students and faculty stay informed
Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Brian Morrissey, Head of Web Services, IT Services at University College Dublin, Ireland’s largest university. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
University College Dublin is the largest university in Ireland and one of Europe’s leading research universities. Founded in 1854, UCD has 6,000 staff and more than 30,000 students. Being able to get accurate information quickly, even when on the go, is important for faculty and students in a highly competitive learning environment. Google Apps and Google Search Appliance are helping us stay connected and informed.
Before Google, we weren’t always able to respond to service issues quickly, particularly if they happened on the weekend when IT administrators were off work. Google’s tools make service issues less frequent and easier to manage when they occur. Because we don’t have all that hardware and software to manage, we can now focus our IT staff on bringing new services to the UCD community. These include collaborative and communications services such as Google Plus and Hangouts, together with improved services through UCD Connect and UCD Mobile.
The ability to integrate Google Calendar and Drive with Gmail was another huge benefit for us. The big game changer for us is Google Calendar. We’re delivering class schedules and other events to students directly in their calendars, so they are easy to update and accessible via mobile devices. With 40,000 smartphones and tablets on the UCD network this is key to helping students make it to class on time.
In addition to Google Apps, UCD is using Google Search Appliance to make all of its publicly available documents searchable through its website, and internal documents searchable by university staff on the intranet. More than 500,000 documents are in the index and people are conducting more than 60,000 searches per month. We’ve implemented numerous custom search display pages and targeted directory searches with specific keywords to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.
Google’s initial appeal was service availability, coupled with storage improvements, easy mobile access and cost savings. We’re saving about $330,000 a year that would have been spent on servers, maintenance, personnel and power to manage the previous email system, SunMail. Storage was a big concern for us before going Google. We had about eight terabytes of staff emails alone and were always worried that we’d run out of storage and have to buy more. Now, each person has seven times more storage for mail and concerns about exceeding quotas have disappeared. Through the use of Google Apps and Search Appliance, UCD now has a scalable solution for mail, collaboration and search which drives better communication, collaboration and information retrieval throughout our university.