Editor’s Note: Recently we announced the winners of our global Gone Google ad contest. Today’s featured winner is Brian Bolt, Lead Systems Engineer at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

Boise State University first looked at moving to Google Apps for Education in 2007. At the time, we were in the process of upgrading our email for employees and students from a system that had been in place since 1996. We realized that by choosing Google Apps for Education, Boise State could provide much more than a new email platform: an entire set of integrated, cutting edge communication and collaboration tools. And the huge cost savings would allow us to redirect scarce budget dollars and personnel away from email maintenance towards new technology initiatives that support our school.

We were proud to be the largest deployment of Google Apps for Education to students, faculty and staff when we moved to the cloud. Almost 20,000 student accounts and 3,000 faculty and staff accounts were migrated. Since then we’ve seen tremendous benefits. Every year, we save $147,000 in IT costs alone. This savings has allowed us to redeploy one and a half full-time employees to important technology projects that are core to our university. Our students and faculty alike have embraced Google Apps for Education. They are excited to use Docs and Google's other communication tools to easily share, research, and collaborate.

Boise State sees Google Apps as a great tool to help us in our commitment to academic excellence, public engagement, vibrant culture and exceptional research.

To lean more about Boise State's experience using Google Apps and the Apps Marketplace, join us for a webinar on April 7th at 11am PST

As we near the end of the March, we want to highlight some of the many recent updates made to Google Docs. You’ve already heard about Discussions in Google Docs, which introduced a better way to provide document feedback. Here are some of the other features that have been released in Google Docs over the past couple months:
  • Filter your data in spreadsheets: We made it easier to analyze and view your data with the addition of filtering in Google spreadsheets. Applying a filter to a set of data can help you quickly narrow down the data set to find the data you need. By selecting a data set, you can filter and sort amongst many rows at once.
  • 12 new file formats in the Google Docs Viewer: The Google Docs Viewer is used by millions of people every day to quickly view PDFs, Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations online. Not only is viewing files in your browser far more secure than downloading and opening them locally, but it also saves time and doesn’t clutter up your hard-drive with unwanted files. We recently added support for:

    • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
    • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
    • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
    • Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
    • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
    • Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
    • Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
    • PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
    • TrueType (.TTF)
    • XML Paper Specification (.XPS)

  • Multiple chart ranges and hidden sheets in Spreadsheets: We added the ability to chart multiple ranges and hide sheets in Google spreadsheets. In charts, you can now add extra ranges by clicking on “Select ranges...” and “add another range.” You can also manually add new ranges separated by commas. In addition, we introduced the ability to hide your sheets. You can now click on a sheet tab and select “hide sheet” to remove a sheet from view.
  • Revisions, presence, and format painter in Drawings: We’re making it easier to work together in drawings. First, we’ve added presence highlights around shapes so you can keep track of which object each person is editing. Second, we added revision history which lets you see who made which change as well as go back to previous versions. Third, the new format painter lets you choose a source shape, press the format painter icon to copy its formatting, and then click on another shape to apply that formatting to the destination shape.

  • Quick starring and improved sharing invitations: Now you can star documents while editing them. Once a doc is starred, you’ll be able to find the doc by clicking on the starred link in your document list. We’ve also updated document sharing so that when you share a doc with others, all new collaborators are now included on the email.
  • Cloud printing on the go: now you can print from your smartphone with Google Cloud Print for mobile documents and Gmail for mobile. Just open a document in Google Docs or an email in Gmail in your mobile browser and choose “Print” from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. To get started, you’ll need to connect your printer to Google Cloud Print.
As with all updates in Google Docs, users get access to new features each time they open their browsers, and improvements roll out to customers with no need for administrators to manage patches or install software. Stay tuned for more updates to Google Docs.

Editor’s Note: Providing a safe and secure environment for the citizens is the mission of U.S. law enforcement agencies. Today we invited Jeff Smith, Enterprise Systems Manager from the Georgia Department of Corrections, to share how it improved offender management by using Google Maps.

The Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) is the largest law enforcement agency in the state. Our team of over 13,000 Corrections professionals strives everyday to manage the offenders effectively while helping to provide a safe and secure environment for the citizens. With a growing number of probationers to supervise - now more than 150,000 - this challenge was becoming increasingly more difficult and we needed modern technology to help us.
With the massive number of probationers in the GDC system, it’s fundamental that we have accurate mapping tools in order for probation officers to manage their caseloads appropriately. Believe it or not, for decades we had been plotting the probationers on paper maps and manually drawing the routes we took to supervise them. More recently, our officers turned to publicly available mapping tools to make their job easier on their own. In spite of that, accuracy was still a problem, and we came to realize the urgent need to equip our officers with accurate, interactive maps.

We implemented a solution that integrates large amounts of offender management data that we collected into Google Maps API Premier in October 2010. Google Maps gives us the flexibility to send large amounts of data to draw a single map and customize the data icons. We can easily map the address of each offender and color-code it based on the offender’s supervision level. Probation officers are now able to access customized Google Maps both from their desk computers and on their netbooks when they are on the road. An officer can quickly see on a map all the offenders he supervises, their addresses, identification information, supervision levels, and the probation office supervising the offenders’ cases. Officers can optimize caseloads based on real geographic boundaries so each of them can focus just on a sector of the city and reduce the amount of time spent navigating through Atlanta. We can also run a search by officer, office, or by radius to identify the cases. If an offender reports a home address change, we can tell if he or she moves out of the region and needs to be reassigned to another officer or office. We no longer have to rely on the offenders’ self-reported data for the city or county their residence is in. Google Maps has helped advance our case management and collaboration significantly.

With the capability to visualize where the offenders live, Executive Management also realized Google Maps would be a valuable tool in deciding where to establish new offices. These new ways to look at managing offenders and officer caseloads were hard to imagine with our previous systems.

Google Maps has helped us improve collaboration and optimize resource allocation intelligently. We can now focus more on our core agenda, which is to protect our citizens and provide effective opportunities for offenders to achieve positive change.

Editor’s note: Recently we announced the winners of our global Gone Google ad contest. Today’s featured winner is Jim Coningsby, Director of Operations at The Phoenix of New Orleans.

The Phoenix of New Orleans (PNOLA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the recovery of Lower Mid-City New Orleans and its surrounding neighborhoods after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Since 2006, we’ve rebuilt quality affordable housing and helped develop the community assets necessary for vital neighborhoods by leveraging construction expertise and using Google Apps to coordinate and collaborate on efforts.

PNOLA has a very small staff of 5-10 people per year, but we’ve been able to leverage hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, grant funds and donated materials to rebuild over 70 homes. As a result we have saved homeowners over $4 million dollars in rebuilding costs. We were able to accomplish so much with such a small staff due to the efficiency enabled by Google Apps. We like to think of Google as being part of our team.

We estimate that Google Apps allows us to do the same work with a staff of 7 as we could with 8. While that may not seem like much, adding another staff member would be prohibitively costly to our organization so we rely on web-based tools, like Google Apps, to make up that difference.

Prior to using Google Apps, we had been using a webmail service through our website host, but our team found the interface confusing, so they often just opted to use their personal Gmail accounts. Having multiple email addresses made us appear less professional to our community partners and funders, and also made it difficult to collaborate without a standardized set of tools.

Migrating to Google Apps took less than an hour to set up. We immediately improved the professional appearance of our organization and began working smarter together through the collaboration tools. We now track all of our upcoming volunteers and project tasks through Google Calendar so everyone is able to stay up to date with what is happening. We are also able to stay on track with our projects which typically saves us up to two weeks on each house. This in turn saves our homeowners from paying extra rent, and saves us about $300 a week on project delivery costs.

In addition, our team works together to create marketing material using Google Docs and our entire team uses Google Voice as our office phones, which not only saves us hundreds of dollars a month, but greatly improves our ability to track our communication with volunteers, clients and donors. We have our entire training manual on our intranet built on Google Sites, which is constantly updated so that new team members can get up to speed quickly. We think we’re an example of a small non-profit that can do big things with the power of the cloud and Google Apps.

Last year we made more than 60 additional Google services available in Google Apps, including Blogger, YouTube and Picasa. Soon we’ll be bringing two of the newest Google features to our Google Apps customers: enhanced Google Profiles and the +1 button.

The +1 button lets you put your stamp of approval on content on the web. When you click the +1 button, your social connections will see your public recommendation when that page appears in their Google search results. Today, some Google search users – including a small number of Google Apps users – will begin seeing the +1 button, and over the coming weeks this will roll out to more users. You can read more details about the +1 button on the Official Google Blog.

The +1 button will appear next to each search result

With +1’s, you will be able to share your recommendations with the world, but there is one catch: the +1 button will only work if you have a Google Profile, which is not available in Apps yet. We’re going to bring Google Profiles to you in a few weeks. Your organization will need to be set up to use additional Google applications to get Google Profiles when it’s available, so this is a great time for administrators to start the transition if they haven’t already!

Google Profiles is an important companion to +1’s, but your profile is also a place for you to manage your online identity. Once it’s ready, Google Profiles can be turned on by your organization's administrator. You might choose to use a Google Profile if you’re a freelance writer, personal accountant or hairstylist, for instance, and you want to create your professional presence on the web to interact with potential clients and colleagues. Your profile will be public, so anyone on the web will be able to view it and your profile and +1’s will show up in search results.

Later this year, we’ll also be providing administrator options to keep profiles and +1’s for Google Apps users private within an organization, so that this information will only be viewable by your colleagues.

Stay tuned for updates.

Update: Google+, which includes Google Profiles, is now available with Google Apps.

Thousands of institutions have adopted Google Apps for Education and already enjoy the tremendous collaboration boosts and cost savings that come along with it. Many, however, may be less familiar with the Google Apps Marketplace (not to mention the recently launched Education category in the Marketplace which includes applications for student tools and teaching aids). As the Apps Marketplace celebrates its first birthday, we invite you to learn how one Google Apps customer has deployed an innovative Google Docs management app from the marketplace and how it has impacted the visibility of collaboration and sharing within their organization.

Join us for a webinar on April 7th at 11am PST to hear Boise State University’s Brian Bolt, the Office for Information and Technology Team Lead, share how they are using Google Apps and CloudLock from the Google Apps Marketplace. Brian will share his lessons on rolling out Google Apps and demonstrate how CloudLock addresses some of the core IT control and visibility requirements they faced when moving increasing amounts of their organization’s data to the cloud. Specifically, Brian will cover how CloudLock helps to address:
  • Governance - Managing access to data to mitigate unauthorized access
  • Protection - Define and enforce document ownership and sharing policies
  • Analytics - Understanding how to effectively make sense of data
CloudLock’s Co-Founder, Tsahy Shapsa, will also share how their app has made it possible for organizations to extend their Google Docs repositories in order to begin to retire their legacy on-premise file servers, effectively producing a significant ROI with real hard and soft cost savings. We hope you’ll tune in to hear more about how Boise State has leveraged CloudLock.

The Power of the Apps Marketplace: A Webinar with CloudLock and Boise State
Thursday, April 7th, 2011
11:00 a.m. PDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT
Register here

Posted by Jordan Pedraza, Google Apps for Education Team

Editor’s Note: Recently we announced the winners of our global Gone Google ad contest. Today’s featured winner is Matt Silverman, CIO of Just Salad from New York, NY.

Just Salad is a casual restaurant chain with six locations in Manhattan, and two locations in Hong Kong. Founded in 2006 by two recent college graduates Nick Kenner and Robert Crespi, Just Salad caters to health conscious customers looking for a fresh and fast meal.

We implemented Google Apps in 2008, and we have been extremely pleased with the results. While we originally made the switch for the robust email functionality that Gmail offers, the other applications in the Google Apps suite ended up being an invaluable toolset for all of our staff. In the restaurant business, the corporate staff are always on the run, visiting our different stores. Having all of our email, calendar, contacts, and documents available in Google Apps allows us to make our information accessible wherever our staff may be, which greatly improves our work efficiency.

The collaboration tools within Google Docs allow us to quickly and efficiently fill out our expense reports, brainstorm new ideas for our menu and operations, and maintain comprehensive training documents that can be printed by our staff in the stores at any time. We also use shared calendars to help with labor schedules, and to keep track of tasks on a store-by-store basis.

The scalable nature of Google Apps has also allowed us to seamlessly implement email in each store we open, with virtually no time spent on setting up email clients and office applications. Our network security has also improved, by moving the bulk of our virus checking to the cloud instead of managing it on premise, we are able to avoid most of the dangerous attachments that seem to plague Microsoft® Outlook email clients.

Out of all of the time saving features that Google Apps offers, the search function in Gmail is above and beyond the greatest feature. To give one quick example, we can enter transaction totals into Gmail to pull up various receipts for web purchases. This allows us to do our expense reports incredibly efficiently, without having to hunt through printed receipts to reconcile our purchases.

Finally, Google spreadsheets has allowed us to collaborate on in-depth nutrition analysis to help keep track of nutrition values for our 70+ salad ingredients. Keeping up on nutrition is hard work when you carry as many ingredients as we do, and allowing multiple staff members to work in tandem via Google Spreadsheets has proven to be incredibly useful. We look forward to continuing to work with Google Apps as we rapidly expand our restaurant concept throughout New York City, Hong Kong, and beyond.

As we announced on the Official Google Blog, we’ve just launched the third-generation of Google Commerce Search – our search solution for e-commerce websites. With the new release, we’re making online shopping more interactive, connecting local and mobile product discovery, and providing sophisticated tools to help retailers manage the shopping experience on their site.

Search is evolving, smartphone sales are already outpacing PC’s, and the entire retail landscape is on the verge of a transformation. We believe that these new features will help shape the future of online shopping, and allow retailers to provide the best possible experience on their site (and on any mobile device).

  • Search As You Type: Search is quickly becoming a more interactive experience. Search As You Type provides instant gratification to shoppers – returning product results with every keystroke, right from the search bar.
  • Local Product Availability: This year, 46% of retail sales will be influenced by online research – but more than 90% of total retail transactions will occur in-store (eMarketer, June 2010). Local Product Availability helps retailers bridge online and offline sales by showing shoppers when a product is also available in a store nearby – in-line with the search results.
  • Enhanced Merchandising: Retailers need to be agile to effectively respond to shopping trends and market dynamics – for example ramping up certain underdog basketball team apparel going into the Final Four! Our new merchandising tools allow retailers to easily set query-based landing pages, and to create promotions that display alongside related search queries in retailer-designated banner areas.
  • Product Recommendations (Labs): To help consumers discover related products, Product Recommendations show shoppers what other people viewed and ultimately bought.

With this release we're also welcoming three new retail partners: Forever21, General Nutrition Company (GNC) and L’Occitane. GNC implemented Google Commerce Search in less than a week on their mobile website, while Forever 21 and L’Occitane are currently working to implement various new features of GCS, such as Search as You Type and Local Product Availability. Here is what Jeff Hennion, EVP & Chief Branding Officer at GNC had to say about the rise of smartphone adoption, and how Google Commerce Search has helped his business adapt to this new shopping medium:

"The velocity of smartphone adoption has made the mobile channel increasingly important for retailers. GNC wanted a flexible solution that would provide the best in e-commerce search while allowing us to develop a unique mobile experience. Google Commerce Search allowed us to upgrade our mobile search solution in less than a week and deliver a faster, more targeted experience for our smartphone users."

And Christine Burke, VP of International E-Commerce at L’Occitane is looking forward to implementing GCS 3.0 on her company’s new, re-designed websites worldwide:
"L’Occitane is unique in that our beauty products center around ingredients - such as lavender, shea butter and verbena. As our customers visit our re-designed website to shop and research our products, we are excited about the speed and accuracy of on-site search results that will be provided to us through Google Commerce Search. We are also very excited about the possibility of the new local inventory feature, which can help us connect our customers with their favorite products in one of our 170 US boutiques."

Learn how you can provide the latest in retail technology on your website with Google Commerce Search. Sign up for our upcoming webinar (details below). You’ll hear from Nitin Mangtani, Group Product Manager, in conversation with Google Commerce Search customers about how these new features are transforming retail for the better.

Google Commerce Search 3.0: Driving user engagement and cross-channel coordination in retail
Wednesday, May 5, 2011
2:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. PDT

100% web applications have many advantages over legacy and single tenant hosted technologies. There’s no need to wait years for the next big software release or manage a complex set of installers, software patches, and hardware upgrades. With Google Apps, new features are available with a simple refresh of the web browser.

We want to make it easier for customers to stay up-to-date with what’s new. On Thursday March 31 at 10am PST, I’ll be hosting a recap where you’ll hear about new applications like Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office and powerful new features like Google Apps Scripts support in Google Apps, Smart Labels, updated Contact Manager and the ability to sign outgoing messages with DKIM. I’ll also review the updated Google Apps feature release process which enables IT admins more granular control of the roll-out / deployment of updates.

For nearly real-time information on updates to Google Apps, administrators and users can follow along through RSS, email alerts or Twitter. If you’d like a refresher on previous quarters’ developments, you’re welcome to watch the replays on YouTube.

I hope you can join me. Register to attend the live webinar on March 31 at 10am PST.

Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager

Several months ago we invited you, our Google Apps users around the world, to tell us why your organization should be featured in the next phase of our Gone Google campaign. We were humbled by your many thoughtful entries which shared your Gone Google story and gave us more insight into how Apps has changed the way you work in your company, school or non-profit.

Today, we’re excited to announce our 10 global winners and unveil their Gone Google outdoor ad right in their own city. These ten winners represent Google Apps users across three continents and five countries, representing a variety of industries including real estate, restaurant, e-commerce, as well as education and not-for-profit. Congratulations to the following organizations (and check out this map for the location of their outdoor ads):
  • 3Tailer (Online Retail) - Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
  • Boise State University (Education) - Boise, Idaho, USA
  • Boxx Group (Construction) - Antwerp, Belgium
  • Edina Public Schools (Education) - Edina, Minnesota, USA
  • ESSEC Business School (Education) - Cergy-Pontoise, France
  • Just Salad (Restaurants) - New York, New York, USA
  • Monash University (Education) - Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  • Oakwood Junior School (Education) - Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  • The Phoenix of New Orleans (Non-Profit) - New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • South Carolina REALTORS® (Real Estate / Non-Profit) - Columbia, South Carolina, USA
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share each of these winners’ Gone Google story about how Google Apps has changed the way they work or learn. If you’re in any of these cities over the next month, be sure to check out their outdoor ad and maybe even snap a photo for us. (Follow us @GoogleatWork, and tag your pictures with #gonegoogle to share them with us.)

If your organization has also gone Google, be sure to join our community map where you can explore other Gone Google stories and see who else has switched to Apps near you (and around the world).

Congratulations again to all of our winners and thanks for going Google!

The benefits of Google Apps and cloud computing extend beyond just business communication and productivity. Today there are a growing number of cloud applications for virtually every aspect of your business through the Google Apps Marketplace. Hundreds of vendors now offer products and services through the Marketplace that integrate directly with Google Apps for business. So what do you need to start going 100% web, and what does it really take to simplify everything from messaging and collaboration to real-time financial dashboards and analytics with cloud computing?

Register for this live and interactive webcast on Wednesday, March 30 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern with Google Apps Partner Lead Scott McMullan and NetSuite Director of Business Development Dan Chang. You’ll hear about business use cases, return on investment (ROI), and other considerations for moving to the cloud with NetSuite and Google Apps.

Rochester Hills, Michigan, and Panama City, Florida have improved internal communications and dramatically reduced costs by implementing Google Apps. These cities faced the same challenges that many other government agencies do: declining budgets, pressure to deliver better citizen services, and the high cost of a do-it-yourself hardware infrastructure.

Join IT managers from Rochester Hills and Panama City, a senior fellow from Center for Digital Government, and Google for a live discussion where they will shed light on how government agencies can:
  • Cut costs on email and office productivity applications
  • Improve collaboration with employees and the public
  • Move quickly to implement these solutions
  • Respond to trends in government cloud computing
Register to attend the live webinar on Tuesday, March 29 at @ 11am PST / 2pm EST. We hope to see you there.

Customers are switching from legacy systems to Google Apps at an astounding rate. In 2010, our customers migrated over 3.5 billion emails, over 100 million calendar events and 25 million contacts. Over 6 million (and growing) emails are migrated to Google Apps every day!

To help make it easy for our customers to make the switch we’ve made several improvements and updates. Our data migration tools for Microsoft® Exchange and Microsoft Outlook® now support several additional IMAP servers, including Novell® GroupWise, Cyrus®, Dovecot® and Courier®. Customers like Premier Access Insurance – a network of 10,000 dentists in California and other locations throughout the United States ‐ have used our migration tools to make the switch to Google Apps.

Join William Woodson of Premier Access Insurance and me on a live webinar on Thursday, March 24th at 10am PST where William will share his experience and perspectives in planning and managing the migration process, as well as lessons learned. You can also hear more about new updates and improvements to our tools and best practices in planning a migration.

If you are planning a switch, this webinar can't be missed. Register today!

Posted by Aditya Kulkarni, Product Manager, Google Enterprise

After many months of planning, today the University of Alberta – one of Canada's largest research-intensive universities – will begin providing its faculty, staff and students with Google Apps for Education. About 40,000 students will start making the switch today, with faculty and staff following over the coming months. This agreement paves the way for other Canadian institutions to go Google.

Jonathan Schaeffer, the University’s Vice Provost for Information Technology, says: “This is good news for the University of Alberta. Moving to Google will ultimately have a positive and transformative effect on teaching and learning on campus.” The migration will not only improve campus-wide communication and collaboration, but will reduce the current 80+ independent email servers on campus to one single system for everyone.

In the US, we are also thrilled to welcome some of the other schools, colleges and universities that have recently joined the family of more than 11 million users of Google Apps for Education, including:
  • Douglas County School District
  • Humboldt State University
  • Lakeshore Technical College
  • Linn-Benton Community College
  • Madison Metropolitan School District
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • St. Joseph School District
  • SUNY Fredonia
  • Township High School District
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Western Oregon University

Editor's Note: We're pleased to welcome guest blogger, Joe Fuller, CIO of Dominion Enterprises. Dominion Enterprises is a leading marketing services company serving many industries including real estate, apartments, specialty vehicles, employment, automotive and travel. Dominion is one of the largest providers of targeted classified advertising reaching over 34 million consumers monthly. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google Cloud Calculator.

If you had asked me six months ago, I wouldn’t have classified my company as a technology first-mover. Dominion has 4,000 employees with about 800 in our home office and 3,200 in field offices- the result of several companies being brought together over the years through acquisitions. As a result, we have more than 200 email domains and our email was hosted in 24 different locations. Prior to moving to Google Apps, we had been using a variety of different email systems. Some business units were using Microsoft ® Exchange and Outlook, and the rest were using various other applications. We had no shared calendars, no corporate address book and weren’t able to easily access our information from outside the office. The truth is, IT wasn’t serving our employees very well in the area of email and collaboration tools.

So our move to Google Apps was in large part an employee-driven initiative. One of our key IT managers at thought it would be valuable for our company to adopt Google Apps so he started his own 5-person test drive. At about the same time, I attended Google’s Atmosphere event at its headquarters in California, and had a chance to talk to other CIOs that had either decided to “go Google” or were seriously contemplating a move. My biggest reservations involved security and privacy in the cloud. At the event, I learned how Google was addressing those concerns and listened to other CIO’s who had overcome similar concerns. I began to see the opportunities we were missing by not having email and our collaboration tools hosted in the cloud. When I got back to Virginia, we set to work doing our due diligence on competitive offerings and we expanded our Google Apps test drive to a full blown pilot.

We visited Redmond and though I am convinced they are committed to the cloud, their collaboration suite offering was not as seamlessly integrated as Google’s and their pricing model was complicated. Over the 6 months of the pilot, we found a groundswell of support for Google Apps. Our employees were familiar with Gmail, and they wanted to access email from their phones and their tablets. The Apps pilot grew to 150 users and we got to the point where we had to turn people away. Folks were extremely happy that they could schedule meetings with coworkers from any office (remember most of them were on separate email systems before, so this was revolutionary), host video chats and access their email from any device. Many pilot employees either had an iPhone® or Android smartphone. Once I migrated to an Android phone and discovered how easy email and calendar syncing was with Google Apps, I was sold.

By then the original Google Apps champion had been joined by a small army of enthusiasts. I pitched the idea to the CEO, CFO and Legal Counsel and told them we wanted to move the entire company to Google Apps. For us this is really about the value and benefits we know we’re giving our employees.

We’re looking forward to discovering the new ways our employees will use Google Apps as we continue to roll it out across the company. So far, about 95% of employees say they prefer Google Apps mail to Outlook. I suspect a year from now we’re going to be wondering how in the world we ever lived without Google Apps - and even better, now I tell folks that at Dominion we’re a technology-forward company.

[Cross-posted from the Google Student Blog]

March is a special time for college basketball enthusiasts as the NCAA® Championship games heat up. This season is especially exciting for us on the Apps for Education team to watch, as more than half of the teams in this year’s tournament have Gone Google – meaning they’re using Google Apps for Education on campus.

With more than 11 million students, faculty and staff who are already part of the Google Apps “squad” – providing their campus community with collaboration and communication tools – we’d like to congratulate the 37 Apps schools who are vying for the championship and wish them luck with the rest of the tournament, including:
  • Alabama State University
  • Belmont University
  • Bucknell University
  • Clemson University
  • Gonzaga University
  • Notre Dame
  • Old Dominion University
  • San Diego State University
  • Temple University
  • University of Akron
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of Texas at San Antonio
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington
  • Utah State University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Villanova University
For information about how to become a 100% web campus, please visit While we’re sorry to say we can’t promise any success on the basketball court, you can at least make your own bracket a "slam dunk" with the Google Docs bracket template!

Cross posted on the Official Google Blog

The discussion about a document is as important as the document itself, but until now, there hasn’t been a great medium for this discussion to happen. Creating comments in documents is a start—but comments can be overwhelming and at times feel one-sided with no resolution.

So today we’re introducing a better way to provide document feedback—discussions in Google Docs. With this feature, we want to encourage rapid and seamless discussions, help the right people participate, as well as integrate discussions with email in an intuitive way. For a look into the way discussions work in Google Docs, watch our video:

Now you can easily tell who made a comment and when—with timestamps and profile pictures—and you can keep track of the conversation with email notifications and reply to comments directly from your email. Your discussions will be better and so will your documents. And all of this is possible because Google Docs lives in the cloud.

Discussions is rolling out now to everyone with personal Google Accounts as well as to Google Apps customers on the Rapid Release track.

You can read more about the new features on our Google Docs blog.

100% web applications have many advantages over legacy and single tenant hosted technologies, and you consistently tell us that the ability to access improvements as they become available is one of the most important. With Google Apps, new features are available with a refresh of the web browser. There’s no need to wait years for the next big software release or manage a complex set of installers, software patches, and hardware upgrades.

We’re always excited to bring you the newest features as soon as they’re ready, but we’ve heard from some customers with complex IT environments that they’d like more notice before new features are deployed to their users. To address these requests, we’re happy to announce a new feature release process aimed at helping you balance the benefits of accessing improvements as soon as they're ready with the task of integrating the changes into your organization.

Our new process has two release tracks that Google Apps administrators can choose from:
  • Rapid Release: Customers on the Rapid Release track have access to new features as soon as the features have completed testing and quality assurance, and are ready to roll out.
  • Scheduled Release: Customers on the Scheduled Release track gain access to new features on a regular, weekly release schedule following the initial release of those features. This delay allows time for administrators to familiarize themselves with new features using a test domain, educate support staff, and communicate any changes to their users. New features will be released on the Scheduled Release track each Tuesday, with at least a one-week notice following the initial feature launch.

New features for Gmail, Contacts, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites will be following this new release process going forward. If your organization previously had “Pre-release features” enabled in the Google Apps control panel, then you will be placed on the Rapid Release track and continue to gain access to new features as soon as they’re ready. Otherwise, your organization will be placed on the Scheduled Release track. You can always change your selection by choosing how you would like to receive new features in the Google Apps control panel. If you're considering a switch to Scheduled Release, note that you may currently be using some features that are only available in Rapid Release.

To support this new process, we’ve also developed a new launch communication tool for all users that brings together all the information you need to track Google Apps releases. This portal can be found at, and is a great place to learn about recent and upcoming features, and find training resources for your users.

Google Apps customers are already on the cutting edge with 100% web technology - they simply refresh their browser for the latest innovation. Now we’re giving customers the choice to balance innovation with predictability. As always, we look forward to your feedback - please leave us a comment below!

Editor’s Note: Today our guest bloggers are Mark Switalski, Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge and Carmella Sabaugh, Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds. The Macomb County Court and Clerk/Register of Deeds Office has gone Google to control costs, improve service, and keep innovating.

The Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk / Register of Deeds border Detroit (“Motown”) to the northeast. Nestled on 31-miles of Lake St. Clair shoreline, and home to nearly 830,000 residents and growing, Macomb is Michigan’s third most populated county. Near Michigan’s two Big Ten universities, workforce training is also provided by Macomb County Community College, Michigan’s largest grantor of associate degrees with over 22,000 students. The county boasts three regional hospitals, expansive parkland, nearly 100 miles of hike/bike trails, and more than 1,900 retail establishments. Waterways hold 52,000 registered boats, and toll-free expressways provide quick access to two international airports and two international bridges to neighboring Canada. Brimming with engineers and skilled workers, the county accounts for 61 percent of Defense Department contracts awarded in Michigan.

Macomb County judges are among the most efficient at meeting State Court Administrative guidelines despite having the highest caseloads per circuit court judge across the state. Last year, we had to cut over $1.4 million from our budgets and downsize our workforce. We needed tools to meet the challenge of increasing caseloads and decreasing staff.

308 county court users recently joined 68 clerk staff on Google Apps for Government. Google Apps provides a way for judges and staff to access information anytime, anywhere and find things fast, while keeping costs down. Google lets us do more, despite budget cuts.

Google Apps for Government gives our employees great collaboration tools we never had before. County staff use Google Talk to communicate with clerks while they are in court or on the phone for quick answers. Jury staff use Google Docs to post juror Web updates without Web publishing software, even when working from home during bad weather. We can even send text messages from a computer to attorneys’ phones when their cases are being called. This is helpful when attorneys have cases in multiple courts and a judge wants to speed the docket along.

Our county has over 80,000 immigrants, speaking 40 languages, which is one reason staff appreciate the option to use Google Translate in Gmail. Viewing e-mail attachments in different formats is easy. Check out our short videos and information about our experience using Google Apps.

Besides the enhanced productivity, we know that when a disaster happens, our system will not go down and because our data is in the cloud, it is protected and accessible from anywhere. After a rare tornado hit last summer, briefly disrupting power and some network services, the clerk’s Google service remained accessible via cell phone and other networks until the county’s network and e-mail were restored.

The biggest draw for us to go Google is the cost control that comes with cloud computing. For a fixed per employee cost, the county gets Google Apps for Government and Google Message Discovery for archiving and e-discovery. There is no additional cost for servers, backup, antivirus or antispam protection, or disaster recovery. When new enhancements are available, there is no need for extra investment. Savings are also realized because Google Apps for Government has zero scheduled downtime! Maintenance is performed while the system is running. Our IT Department staff who have become proficient with Google Apps for Government are making themselves more valuable to the taxpayers.

We in Macomb County are pleased so far with the decision to improve service and control technology costs by switching to Google Apps for Government. Instead of spending time and resources to administer computer hardware and software, we can better focus on administering justice.

Google is a supporter of small businesses around the world. We have a number of services, including Adwords, Google Places, and Google Apps, that help small businesses find and engage customers and run their businesses more efficiently.

The good news for small businesses is we’re not alone. There are thousands of companies and organizations worldwide dedicated to helping them, and today we’re proud to formally join one such organization who’s focus is helping small businesses get more out of web apps: The Small Business Web.

The Small Business Web is a group of web app vendors rallying together around a couple simple ideas:
  • the belief that web apps are more valuable when they integrate and work together
  • the belief that open web APIs are the best way to integrate web apps
We share these beliefs -- they’re some of the same principles behind our Google Apps Marketplace and our belief in 100% web.

In fact 30 of the 300+ web apps available in the Apps Marketplace are also members of The Small Business Web, including:

We are excited to join The Small Business Web, and look forward to collaboratively pushing the envelope with fellow vendors on making web apps as good as they can be as we move to a world that’s 100% web.

Posted by Scott McMullan, Google Apps Partner Lead, Google Enterprise

Google Sites makes it easy for organizations to create and manage their intranets or external web pages. By making content management available to non-technical users, information is managed by more people making it more relevant and up to date.

But sometimes intranets have more complex needs such as:
  • Content varied based on an employee’s location
  • Information in another system that needs to be presented in a site
  • A project tracker with a custom workflow
  • An issue tracker
  • A team issue tracker
To support these needs, we are excited to announce further integration between Google Sites and Google Apps Scripts that allows custom applications to be built in your Google Sites. To get started, take a look at our “hello world” tutorial and our Apps Scripts help center. To get a sense for what is possible, we also recommend our tutorial on how to build an entire time-tracking application, right in your site.

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from David Marsh, co-Founder of The Standard Agency, a talent management and creative agency in Arizona. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google Cloud Calculator.

Our dream business started at the kitchen counter, literally. My partner and I had been involved in the music industry for a decade and knew the framework for managing talent was broken – people are at extremes either bringing in tons of money or making close to nothing. So, we took a business idea that we developed at the kitchen counter and founded The Standard Agency to manage musicians, models, actors, athletes and other talent who need representation. We offer a one-stop shop that includes everything from design and online promotion to booking gigs. In working and collaborating on so many different projects we also found there was a demand to provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of how design and social media impact businesses. This caused us to expand to offer related marketing services to small businesses who need help establishing themselves online and offline.

Our business quickly went from an idea to a reality and to be able to immediately have professional email and other business tools through Google Apps was key. Knowing Gmail was part of Google Apps was a huge selling point for me as I consider it the best solution to keep email organized. Set up of Google Apps was quick and flawless and all the applications are easy to access from any device. I’ve worked with other companies that have had to jump through hoops to get email on their mobile phones. For me, Gmail automatically worked on my phone and it’s the primary way I access email. Plus, we don’t have constant downtime and servers to maintain as I’ve experienced elsewhere.

Google Calendar has been essential for scheduling and tracking timelines for various marketing projects. I don’t think my partner would have been able to use any other calendar out there. He’s far more efficient and productive because his calendar is easy to use and it syncs across his phone, laptop, and tablet.

When it comes to our extensive network of contractors and employees, most of whom live out-of-state, Google Docs is the cornerstone of how we work. We use Google forms extensively for everything from fan surveys to elicit feedback after events, to online resumes to collect information from new job applicants. We also create Google docs for almost everything including legal contracts which are common in our business. Contracts often go through multiple rounds of revisions and with a Google doc, the right people can access and collaborate on the most up to date version, no matter where they are.

If it wasn’t for the ease of use and low cost of Google Apps, I don’t think my partner and I would have taken off running as fast as we did. It created a strong sense of confidence and familiarity that we needed to start up our business. Two years later, we all use Google Apps daily and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Posted by David Marsh, co-Founder, The Standard Agency

St. James’s Palace just launched, a website celebrating the forthcoming marriage of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton. The website is the official information hub for anyone interested in the Royal Wedding, and if you browse the website you might notice something familiar: instant, crisp, and relevant search results powered by Google.

Whether you’re looking for more information about the reception, or are simply curious about who Miss Middleton appointed as her Maid of Honour, Google Site Search will quickly direct you to the most relevant results.

We’re thrilled to be assisting St. James’s Palace with their website search engine. Our congratulations to the happy couple!

(Cross-posted from the Gmail blog.)

People get a lot of email these days. On top of personal messages, there are group mailing lists, social network notifications, credit card statements, newsletters you might have signed up for, and promotional email from a shopping site you used once months ago. Gmail’s filters and labels were invented to help manage the deluge, but while I have about 100 filters that triage and label my incoming mail, most of my friends and family have all their messages in a giant unfiltered inbox.

Last year, we launched Priority Inbox to automatically sort incoming email and help you focus on the messages that matter most. Today, we're launching a complementary feature in Gmail Labs called Smart Labels, which helps you classify and organize your email. Once you turn it on from the Labs tab in Settings, Smart Labels automatically categorizes incoming Bulk, Notification and Forum messages, and labels them as such. “Bulk” mail includes any kind of mass mailing (such as newsletters and promotional email) and gets filtered out of your inbox by default (where you can easily read it later), “Notifications” are messages sent to you directly (like account statements and receipts), and email from group mailing lists gets labeled as “Forums.”

If you already use filters and labels to organize your mail, you may find that you can replace your existing filters with Smart Labels. If you're picky like me and still want to hold on to your current organization system, Smart Labels play nice with other labels and filters too. On the Filters tab under Settings, you'll find that these filters can be edited just like any others. From there, you can also edit your existing filters to avoid having them Smart Labeled or change whether mail in a Smart Label skips your inbox (which you can also do by just clicking on the label, then selecting or unselecting the checkbox in the top right corner).

Labs in Gmail are a great testing ground for experimental features, and we hope Smart Labels help you more effortlessly get through your inbox. If you notice a message that was automatically labeled incorrectly and want to help us troubleshoot, you can report miscategorizations from the drop down menu on each message (in doing so, you’ll donate the full message to our engineers so that we can improve the feature).

To get started with Smart Labels:
  1. Sign in to Gmail and click 'Settings'.
  2. Click the 'Labs' tab and select 'Enable' next to 'Smart Labels’.
  3. Click 'Save Changes.'
Please note that Google Apps for Business and Education users will first need their administrators to enable Gmail Labs from the Google Apps admin control panel to take advantage of Smart Labels, and other Gmail Labs. For more information on Gmail labs for Google Apps, see the Help Center.

Give it a try and send us feedback on how we can make it work better for you!

Today the Google Apps Marketplace turns one! In the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with many of the best developers on the web, working to make it easy for you to extend Google Apps with great apps for your businesses or school. Our selection has grown from 50 to over 300 apps, and includes great apps for CRM, project management, customer support, finance, email marketing, and more.

You’ve told us we’re on to something...what else have we learned? In a nutshell:
  1. Web app adoption is accelerating across every business function and need
  2. You value web apps that work together — what we call integrated apps (see video below)
  3. It’s harder than ever to evaluate and select the right app, given the number of new apps coming to market, and their increasing specialization
With these learnings firmly in mind, we’re more excited than ever about our mission with Apps Marketplace, and are working on features to make it even easier for you to discover, evaluate and deploy web apps that integrate out of the box. Beyond single sign-on and quick access through our universal navigation bar, our best Marketplace apps synchronize data and offer integrated features designed to keep you and your users productive as you move closer to 100% web.

Here’s a look back at some of our fondest memories from our first 12 months.

One year ago, the Apps Marketplace was born with 50 apps, including cloud content management app, fostering a new model for businesses to discover, purchase and deploy integrated web apps online.

Then in May, to make integrations even more useful, we announced the ability for apps to seamlessly appear inside Gmail when a message is read, enabling users to interact with their apps -- like marking an approval or updating a customer record — without leaving Gmail. For example Capsule CRM offers a Gmail contextual gadget, saving users precious time as they process their email.

With the number of apps continuing to grow, in June we started inviting businesses to “make it App Tuesday” on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Instead of patching legacy software to fix bugs and close security holes, businesses can simply get more functionality — such as Mailchimp for email marketing.

Starting mid-summer, it became clear users were particularly interested in a handful of top selling app categories. So we shared publicly that our top search term was “CRM”, which was driving success for apps like Insightly, and ended up attracting even more apps to the Marketplace to help you manage customers. We also shared that our most installed app category was Project Management, where apps like Smartsheet were seeing success. We wrapped up our category highlights with a timely post on Accounting and Finance before tax season, which featured apps such as Outright for small business accounting.

All along, we were hearing a growing demand from our Google Apps for Education customers for more education-focused apps. So on January 25th, we introduced an education category and added 20+ related apps, including LearnBoost, a free online gradebook.

It’s been a successful year bringing 300 new integrated apps to our users around the world. Let us know what you’d like to see added or improved using our ideas page, and keep checking back for new apps.

Posted by Scott McMullan, Google Apps Partner Lead, Google Enterprise

Interested in joining the thousands of schools and millions of students, staff and faculty currently using Google Apps for Education? We’ll be holding a webinar series in March that will help you do just that.

These webinars will cover a number of topics - from an overview of Google Apps and its services to a deep dive into the Google Apps control panel. These webinars will be run by members of the Google Apps for Education team who can share lessons learned and best practices. Feel free to register for one session or the entire series. Hope you’ll join us for Google Apps for Education 101!

Register to attend one of the upcoming webinars in the series:
March 16, 10:30AM PT/1:30PM ET: Pitching Google Apps at your school
March 22, 10:30AM PT/1:30PM ET: The A to Z of a Google Apps Deployment
March 24, 10:30AM PT/1:30PM ET: What can the Google Apps control panel do for me?
March 30, 10:30AM PT/1:30PM ET: We’re going Google: marketing and project planning

Archived recordings from past Google Apps for Education webinars can also be found in our resource center.

Editor’s Note: Guest authors Lynn Jaber and Romain Vialard work at Revevol, the first international service provider dedicated to Google Apps. Each day, they imagine new ways to improve their business processes with Google technology!

At Revevol, we train clients’ employees who have just migrated to Google Apps, to help them get the most out of their new system. The more Revevol grows, the more customer trainings we have to handle, so we need to quickly find available trainers depending on parameters like the training date, language, location of trainers and trainer skills.

Google Apps Script, a cloud scripting language based on JavaScript, is wired into almost every Google product, so it’s a perfect solution for checking calendars and spreadsheets, and solving our scheduling problems. In the early days, we were using a simple Google Form. It was really easy to put together and simple to use, but one thing was missing: the form just collected data -- there was no way it could automatically take action based on information submitted. Someone had to manually process the information.

This is where Apps Script came to the rescue -- with a little JavaScript code we could build an interactive form that we so badly needed. In a single day, Apps Script let us build a shiny new graphical user interface for our tool, which lets let us dynamically search for available trainers across all skill levels and categories.

How did we do it? We recreated our form using Ui Services in Apps Script. We added a panel next to the form, to show the search results of trainers that match our queries. By using Spreadsheet Services in Apps Script, we could search and fetch data from a spreadsheet that serves as our database of trainers. We also added the ability to sort the search results of trainers by skill level and distance from the training location.

Thanks to integration with Google Maps Services in Apps Script, we're even able to display a map to help our project managers find the closest trainer. Project managers can select more than one trainer from search results and each selected trainer will receive a calendar invitation. The first to respond “Yes” gets the training assignment. It was incredibly easy to build and deploy this application. In one click, we published it so anyone at Revevol can access the tool in their browsers. Apps Script helped us automate this tedious business process!

Posted by Romain Vialard and Lynn Jaber, Revevol

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Rob Rubinoff, Interactive Director at Mad Genius, a branding and creative agency headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google Cloud Calculator.

Mad Genius is a creative fusion of branding, advertising, social media, HD video production, animation, media strategy, web design, web development, and more – a true soup-to-nuts creative agency. Each of these elements come together to create momentum-building ideas that drive results and help us stand apart from other agencies. Our clients range from national insurance companies to regional restaurant chains to local universities, and we have a talented group of people that help these organizations take their brands to the next level.

We started in 2005 as the offshoot of a film production company, and have been growing rapidly ever since. Two years ago, we landed one of the largest advertising accounts in Mississippi, which was a major milestone for us. However, it also meant that we had to move quickly to hire more people to staff the project. At the same time, we moved to a bigger office and started to re-evaluate the technology that powered our company. That’s why, as Interactive Director, I became a big advocate of Google Apps: the benefits of the cloud were what we needed.

We were originally using spotty POP3 email through our domain registrar, which was a legacy solution from when we were part of a larger company. Everyone had different versions of email clients, calendar, and other office software, and this created daily problems. There were times when we literally had to walk down the hall to schedule a meeting because we couldn’t share calendars with everyone in the company.

We talked to local IT providers who offered email solutions that would have cost us thousands of dollars. We also priced out our own Microsoft® Exchange server, which was not only costly, but also seemed like it would necessitate dedicated IT support. Everyone here already wears a lot of hats, so simplifying IT was essential, as was finding a powerful calendaring solution. What we needed was Google Apps.

Initially, there was concern that we might lose emails and disrupt operations during the switch to Google Apps, but we transitioned over the course of a week with no hiccups and continual access to email. Within another week everyone was used to the new system, and the office was thrilled. One of the immediate and tangible benefits came when our executives were able to access email from their desktops, laptops and mobile phones, with everything synced across each device.

Within the Google Apps suite, shared calendars have been huge for us; email and documents are icing on the cake! As we grow our accounts and expand our team (last year we opened a second office in Tampa, Florida), we need to be able to let people know what’s going on throughout the company, and Google Apps makes that not only possible, but also easy. We can view other people’s calendars, easily schedule meetings, and have created a half dozen shared calendars to track things like conference room reservations and vacation days. Plus, project management is vital in our business, and thus the ability to import iCalendar data into our project management system is key.

With Google Docs, we no longer send PDFs back and forth, which is a huge time saver, and we can brainstorm with team members in either office using a Google doc, since it’s basically like a giant shared notepad. We even use Google Docs to collaborate with clients and can elicit feedback and data in a format that is easily shared or uploaded into our system, avoiding data entry errors.

When it comes to groundbreaking agencies like ours, folks usually think New York, Los Angeles, Chicago; they don’t often think Mississippi. But the work we do is changing minds – and Google Apps is helping us get it done. We take pride in being innovative. We’re a young company, with passion for the work we do and a fresh approach to the way we tackle business. With our home base in Mississippi, our new office in Florida, and clients throughout the region, we need virtual speed. Google Apps has proven to be the perfect partner in keeping us connected and moving forward.

Posted by Rob Rubinoff, Interactive Director, Mad Genius