Friday, March 30, 2012
Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is LeighAnn Montieth, General Manager of New York Yoga, a neighborhood Yoga studio with two locations in New York City.
New York Yoga is a neighborhood yoga studio that specializes in Vinyasa and Hot Yoga. It is also one of the first studios to offer On-Demand Yoga Internet videos, so that yogis can practice the discipline anytime, anywhere.
When I joined the studio staff five years ago, we were all using our personal email addresses and I didn’t think that was the best way to present the business. There was also the challenge of staff scheduling. Between the two studios, we have eight full-time employees and over 50 teachers who work as part-time independent contractors. For many, yoga is not their primary focus so when their schedules are split or busy, scheduling can be tricky. Having dozens of teachers calling us each week to ask what time they were teaching, or scheduling substitutes on a paper calendar, wasn’t a great use of our time, or theirs.
We needed one central place where all of our staff members and teachers could stay organized, and easily communicate. That’s when we decided to transition to Google Apps for Business for our team. Now, all of our email addresses are at newyorkyoga.com, which helps us better brand our business and makes everyone feel like part of the team. And we use Google Docs to track substitute and other employee requests, as well as membership log-ins.
Having all of our information in one location has been extremely beneficial. It helps me save time fielding multiple phone calls and spend more time focusing on our clients. Even if I’m on vacation or working from home, I’m able to quickly log in, make sure all classes have an assigned teacher, and also stay up-to-speed with our client-base in real time. The ability to be mobile and access information from anywhere is something we’ve never had before, and it makes my job a lot easier.
Google Apps has given us the communication and organizational tools we need to succeed and maintain a healthy level of zen.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Today we’re announcing the availability of Google Apps Vault (Vault) for Google Apps for Business customers. Vault is an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution for managing information critical to your business and preserving important data. It can reduce the costs of litigation, regulatory investigation and compliance actions.
Businesses of all sizes need to be prepared for the unexpected. In today’s environment, using Vault to manage, archive and preserve your data can help protect your business. Litigation costs can really take a toll on a business when minor lawsuits can run up to many thousands of dollars, and larger lawsuits can cost even more. Significant litigation costs come from having to search and find relevant data, which is also known as electronic discovery (eDiscovery).
E-discovery can be part of virtually any litigation and requires you to search, find and preserve your electronic information such as email. Vault helps protect your business with easy-to-use search so you can quickly find and preserve data to respond to unexpected customer claims, lawsuits or investigations. With an instant-on functionality and availability of your data a few clicks away, Vault provides access to all of your Gmail and on-the-record chats and can provide significant savings to your business over the traditional costs of litigation and eDiscovery.
Additionally, Vault gives Google Apps customers the extended management and information governance capabilities to proactively archive, retain and preserve Gmail and on-the-record chats. With the ability to search and manage data based on terms, dates, senders, recipients and labels, Vault helps you find the information you need, when you need it. Vault gives management, IT, legal and compliance users a systemized, repeatable and defensible platform that will reduce the costs and risks of doing business. With just a few clicks, the business can access a service designed for security and providing auditable access to critical information.
Vault is built on the same modern, 100% web-based architecture as Google Apps. Unlike traditional solutions, it does not require a complex and costly IT environment, and can be deployed in a matter of minutes. Vault brings the security, ease-of-use and reliability of Google Apps to information governance. It can help meet the sophisticated requirements of large organizations and makes these advanced capabilities available to business of all sizes.
Google Apps Vault can be added to your Google Apps account for an additional $5 per user per month starting today, so contact our sales team or a Google Apps reseller if you are interested in signing up for Google Apps and Vault.
We hope that Vault, together with Google Apps, will make a difference to your business and provide the right solution to reducing risk and cost so you can focus on growing your business.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I founded the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in 2005 on a very simple belief: the medium of comics was as potent and deserving of serious exploration as painting, sculpture, and poetry. Most of our students see comics as a calling as much as a career, a vehicle for personal expression. Although there is a deep reverence for the printed page, it would be wrong to assume we don’t embrace new technologies. In the school’s production lab, the old school screen-printing shares the same space as wireless state-of-the-art color laser printers and digital tablets. Students still dip steel nibs into inkwells while laying out their comics in Adobe InDesign.
In only six years, CCS has become one of the premiere cartooning schools in the world. A lot of things came together to make this happen: the right people, the right place, the right timing and, of course, the right technology. To put it bluntly, Google tools help make CCS possible. Our school is built around collaboration, and Google Apps for Education makes it easy for our artists and students to work together. As an example, Google Sites help faculty manage core courses, keeping students on task and informed. It goes without saying Google Calendar is the glue to our school. With over 30 visiting artists on campus annually, a dozen exhibitions and events, Google Calendar is the 24 hour source for what’s happening on campus and off.
We also rely heavily on Smartsheet, a cloud based project management application available in the Google Apps Marketplace, to keep our comics on track. Smartsheet lets us share key documents with many collaborators, track progress, facilitate online discussions, send automatic email updates and reminders, and generate Gantt charts (for those of us who work better with visuals timelines). Schools can spend a fortune on IT, but these free and low-cost cloud applications help our school thrive on a very modest budget.
With a growing network of alumni and visiting artists, CCS has a number of new and exciting projects under way: an expanded summer program, a community planning grant, and an online comics delivery system to bring comics to Vermont libraries and beyond, to mention a few. Whether it’s creating elegant and powerful comic strips or growing a school, Google Apps and Smartsheet allow everyone in the CCS community to pursue a vision.
Illustrations from The Center for Cartoon Studies brochure by Kevin Huizenga. Download the brochure here.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Gold Medal Waters is a fee only financial advisor and independent wealth management firm based in Boulder, Colorado, with clients located across the country. Structurally, we’re somewhat unusual for a financial services firm: close to 90 percent of our work is conducted by a virtual team on flex time, so everyone can choose when they work. This allows us to work close to our clients geographically, while keeping our costs down. Since we don’t have corporate offices, making sure employees can work from any location has always been a top priority for me.
When we first started the business, everyone was tied to their own personal computers with different software and operating systems. Even though we had a remote server in place for our employees to access, the system was a nightmare to manage. It constantly needed upgrading, and when the server went down, business was disrupted. I spent significant hours trying to solve IT issues when I could have been managing the business. We needed one central, secure platform that could help us work together as a virtual team. That’s when we decided to transition to Google Apps for Business and provide Chromebooks to all our employees.
Moving to Google Apps has been one of the best business decisions we’ve made. Not only has it helped reduce IT management time, it’s also given us a whole new level of collaboration. With Google Docs, we can store and share documents and spreadsheets in one place and access them from anywhere. We’re constantly brainstorming new investment portfolios, creating new marketing concepts or updating financial planning checklists. Now we can work on these documents simultaneously, using the chat and comment features to discuss as we go. This type of teamwork is critical, giving us the flexibility we need as a virtual company.
Even though we work across many locations, our new morning ritual is to use Google Hangouts to meet face-to-face and run through priorities, ask questions, and review files prior to client meetings. We’ve found that the ability to see each other and meet virtually has not only made us a closer team, but has also inspired us to work together more frequently.
Google Apps has given us the built-in collaboration we need to work better as a team and focus on the most important part of our business: our clients.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
What does the State of Colorado have in common with neighboring states Wyoming and Utah? For one, they are the only three states in the United States with no natural borders. Their boundaries are defined solely by lines of latitude and longitude. Now, these three states also share a common cloud. Colorado announced today it will migrate more than 26,000 Executive Branch state employees to Google Apps for Government, joining its neighbors as one of the first states to make the move.
six priorities: customer success, innovation, information security, people, service excellence, and trusted partnership. The decision to migrate to Google Apps is closely aligned with these priorities. By bringing 15 siloed and disparate email systems together into one unified communications platform, the state will save approximately $2 million a year, cutting the cost of maintaining current email systems by nearly half. It will also allow employees across departments to find co-workers and communicate more effectively with one another. In addition, giving employees modern collaboration tools and better mobile access will help them deliver better citizen services. OIT completed thorough testing and analysis of multiple product solutions, including an independent third-party comparison, before selecting Google Apps. As part of this evaluation, the state reviewed the security controls used by Google Apps and found them to comply with or exceed state standards. OIT will work closely with Google Apps Premier Reseller Tempus Nova to bring Google Apps to Colorado employees.
The State Government of Colorado is not alone. Local agencies like Larimer County and Eagle County have already used Google Apps to help modernize their technology while realizing significant savings. Also in summer 2010, Colorado announced a statewide agreement to allow schools and districts to use Google Apps for Education. Some of Colorado’s largest education institutions have already switched to Google Apps, including Colorado State University, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Jeffco Public Schools, and Douglas County School District.
We welcome the State of Colorado to the Google Cloud.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
In 2010, Northwestern University, Brady Corporation, and Motorola Mobility came together as organizations using Google Apps for Education or Business to share best practices, showcase custom solutions with Apps Script and APIs, and discuss common issues. The initial meeting was so successful, these customers formed the Google Apps Northcentral User Group and organized several followup meetings for other regional enterprise and education Google Apps customers to connect with each other and share feedback directly with Google.
Since then, we’ve helped to launch additional Google Apps Regional Groups for colleges and universities, businesses, governments, non-profit organizations, and large K-12 school districts. We continue to hear more productive and cross-industry conversations, from Boise State and Genentech exchanging deployment tips in the Northwest Group, to SUNY IT and Ahold discussing migration best practices in the Northeast Group. And these discussions aren’t limited to talks about the transition to Google Apps; group members are also sharing creative and innovative uses of Google Apps: UNCG's Google Calendar mashup has inspired other organizations to adopt and customize Calendar with APIs more broadly for easier discovery of events.
We’ve already seen great communities with the K-12 user groups and now the trend continues for higher education, business, government, and non-profits. These regional groups join the existing K-12 user groups and are designed for Google Apps administrators and managers to network, learn, collaborate, and share resources through discussion forums, events, and webinars. While no industry is the same, we’ve heard from regional group members that it’s better to “flock together like birds of a feather” and share how they’re taking advantage of the tools and platform.
Mailing list for all regional groups in the US and Canada
Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah
North Central http://northcentral.appsusersgroup.com
US: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Canada: Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
US: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
Canada: New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec
Australia-New Zealand http://australia-newzealand.appsusersgroup.com
Australia and New Zealand
Europe http://europe.appsusersgroup.com *
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Google Cloud Storage enables developers to store and access massive amounts of data on Google’s infrastructure with high reliability, availability and performance. Since Google Cloud Storage graduated from preview last year, many developers have tapped directly into Google’s storage capabilities.
We are also seeing lots of technology providers integrating Google Cloud Storage directly into their offerings. For example, several providers of enterprise storage solutions have integrated with Google Cloud Storage to make their products and services even better.
Here’s how a few of these companies are helping their customers build a bridge to the cloud with Google Cloud Storage:
- Panzura allows globally distributed enterprises to store, collaborate and backup files in the cloud using Panzura File System and Google Cloud Storage.
- StorSimple offers a single integrated appliance for primary storage, data protection and disaster recovery. Now, you can connect your StorSimple appliances to the cloud with Google Cloud Storage.
- TwinStrata’s storage gateway can now be used in conjunction with Google Cloud Storage for data storage, backup and disaster recovery in the cloud.
- Zmanda provides backup and disaster recovery solutions for businesses. You can now use Zmanda’s software to backup your on-premise data to Google Cloud Storage.
- Gladinet makes it easy to upload a file from your desktop to Google Cloud Storage, share it with your team and manage access controls using a web-based interface.
If you’re interested in learning how you can tap into Google’s cloud storage capabilities to serve your company’s storage needs, we’d love to have a conversation or you can get started online.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Editors note: We were excited to hear that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself announced to State employees that they would be getting the Chrome browser. Now that they have it, we invited Chris to share some more details.
The State Department gave our employees around the world a special Valentine’s Day gift as we made the Google Chrome browser available to all employees on February 14. This makes us the first U.S. cabinet department to make Chrome available department-wide.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the announcement to a town hall meeting of State Department employees, where it was greeted with rousing applause:
State’s historical approach to browsers is to test compatibility with all corporate, enterprise-level applications and remediate any issues prior to full release. We’ve taken a different approach with Chrome. Offering Chrome as a browser option allows us to take full advantage of Chrome’s speed -- from quick startup to rapid website loading -- plus the ability to access the full range of modern websites, and will allow our employees to be more productive in their work. When a new release of Chrome is made available with enhanced functionality or added security, we can release it into production immediately, bypassing cumbersome testing.
With Chrome for Business, our Information Resources Management (IRM) team was able to deploy Chrome quickly and securely. After two weeks, it has been installed on over 58,000 PCs around the world or around 60% of our enterprise. The administrative capabilities of Chrome for Business will allow IRM to manage the browser going forward, making sure that all employees are on the same version and can take advantage of new features that are regularly made available in new Chrome releases.
We’re enthusiastic to be leading the charge to bring an enhanced web browsing experience to State employees executing the critical U.S. diplomatic mission around the world!
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Sandra Giger from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sandra and her colleagues are using Google Apps for Government to streamline the data collection process, resulting in better data accuracy and transparency across the agency. We are honored to recognize them as our Government Transformers.
Compiling data from a large number of people can be a daunting task. This is especially true at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with 25,000 people in roughly 400 locations around the country.
At NOAA, these “data calls” typically fall to me and my colleagues in the IT Governance and Portfolio Division at NOAA. For example, in 2011 the Department of Commerce, our parent agency, began an initiative to lower printing costs throughout the department. To get started, NOAA first had to inventory the thousands of printers the agency was using.
In the past, a data call was usually conducted via email. We would email all the NOAA offices, and the replies would trickle in, often in different formats. It filled up our inboxes and required that we spend hours cleaning up the data. This manual process meant a higher chance of errors, and the entire process ended up taking several weeks.
Rather than continue with these old methods, we decided to use a Google Form to capture the printer inventory. The form could be emailed directly to people across NOAA, and forwarded on to others as needed. As soon as someone completes the form, each response is captured as a separate row of a spreadsheet, along with the name of the person submitting it and the date and time it was submitted. This streamlined collection process cuts in half the time spent collecting data. With all responses are consolidated in a single spreadsheet, it makes analyzing the data a snap.
What’s more, all the responses can be shared with everyone who completes the form, making it a more transparent data collection process. My colleagues and I are transforming data collection at NOAA by improving data quality and sharing the data more openly, while saving ourselves valuable time that can be spent on other projects.