Having made the decision to transition our Google Apps accounts, we decided to do a little homework - including reading the manual! Or at least working through some of Google's help sheets and videos.
The most important thing for us was getting our head around the dreaded 'conflicting accounts" and how that would impact our users. We are not a big domain with only 500 accounts, but at least 400 of them have conflicting accounts and no-one wants to be the help desk for 400 people when they discover things are no longer how they should be.
There is a perfectly intelligible video from Google at the bottom of this post which gives their perspective on conflicting accounts, but let me give you mine.
Long before we moved to Google Apps for Education I had signed up for a number of Google Apps to use at school. My list included Docs, Sites, Blogger, Picassa, Reader, iGoogle etc. I used my @ptengland.school.nz email to sign up. It was so easy and once I had signed into one of them in a session the whole lot were available.
Then we moved to Google Apps in 2008 and now I had an account inside our Apps domain with exactly the same email address. And it all worked fine once you got it sorted that when you signed in using the green box you were inside Google Apps, and when you used the blue box you were in your public Google account. It would even let you have both accounts open in the same browser - as long as one was a public (blue) account and one was a Google Apps for Ed(green) account.
Warning: after the transition, I would no longer be able to use my school email address to access my public Google Account. Fair enough. And Google has a process to talk you through the first time you try to sign in. Sounds easy to anyone reading this blog, but there are lots of adults - and 350 children - who might finding the warning screens and 'helpful' emails incomprensible if not scary.
The next scenario is the children at the school. They all have a personal blog that is owned by the school (ie the Admin account) but they are able to Author their blog through a class sign in, set up by the school - and this is a public Google account. So they will find themselves confronting this too the first time they try to post to their blogs. And even more, they will no longer be able to have their Google Apps account open and their Blog open on the same browser. They are used to having different tabs open and flicking between them. This will create a conflict and no longer be allowed.
So we put some thought into how we could prepare for this before beginning the transition.
More about that next post...