Editor's note: Maine Township High School District near Chicago has used Google Apps for Education (GAFE) since 2007 and was one of the first K-12 districts to use the productivity suite. Now the three schools in the district are using Chromebooks as part of their 1:1 program. We talked with Hank Thiele, Assistant Superintendent for Technology & Learning, about how the district’s 6,800 students are using the tools and why he is confident that GAFE is the best tool for his district. For more information, read the case study.

How much money have you saved by using Google Apps for Education?
We’ve saved more than $784,000 over six years. Those are dollars that would been listed directly in the budget. That number doesn’t even include productivity or factor in that Google Apps for Education is a better tool than anything else out there. The key differentiation between Google and the others is how easy it is to collaborate and share in the same space. There are projects we’ve done here where people say “we just couldn’t have done this without the Google tools.” People routinely say “throw that on a site” or “put a calendar invite together.” The way the whole team works with the tools — it’s so seamless it’s scary, in a good way.

How important is security to you? How does that play into your use of Google Apps for Education?
Extremely important. I’m also realistic about my resources and my team’s resources compared to Google. Google has proven that they’re a secure company. They provide the same level of security that they use to protect their own data. I don’t know of any school district that has passed the same rigor of security testings that Google has. I might have a few people on my staff who are experts in Internet security and privacy, but Google has hundreds. There is no way that I can drum up the man hours within my walls to spend on security as Google has in their own walls. So, to me it’s much safer with Google in the long run, especially since the data is in the cloud and not sitting on someone’s laptop on their desk or on a USB drive.

Has Google Apps for Education been helpful from the perspective of disaster recovery and regulatory compliance?
We’re not concerned with disaster recovery because there is continuous backup. We’ve seen more of a benefit from regulatory compliance with legal review and discovery. The biggest thing is the knowledge that there is no losing data — you know it is going to be there. You know that if a lawyer or state’s attorney comes knocking on your door, you can open the Google Apps interface and find it. There’s no fear you will have to produce something that has been lost. The more stuff our teachers put into Google Drive the better things are for regulatory compliance and legal discovery for us.

When it comes to using a service that’s purely cloud-based, what are the benefits?
No matter what happens within our walls, the Google tools are available when the Web is available. A couple of years ago we lost all power for three days at the main data center that provided Internet to our schools. We called the Internet service provider and they said, “Well, we’d love to help you out, but the switches that feed your school are under four feet of water now.” While that was going on, we were working offsite and our Gmail there was fine. If we were hosting email on premise we would have been dark. The last thing you want is to be cut off from the rest of the world and being in the cloud prevented that from happening.

What was the biggest concern when you first moved to Google, and how has it since been addressed?
The top concern was that the price was too good to be true. People worried there would be a bait and switch. I know Google Apps for Education won’t start charging because the public pressure would be daunting if Google did that. I take comfort in that.

The other thing that makes me confident in Google is their program Google Takeout. Google constantly gives me tools to move information into the the system, but it’s also easy to take it back out if I were ever to want to leave. Other companies have not been that forthright.

How is the support for Google Apps for Education?
Google support is as good or better than support for any product I pay for. It’s rare that I have to use support, but when I do I typically get an email response back within hours. On the rare occasions when I do need help, I can send an email or make a quick phone call and, either way, we get help immediately.


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog.)

Every year, phones and tablets get better, and more of you are starting to use your mobile devices not just to view, but also to create and edit content. And while the Drive app is a convenient place to store your stuff, we want to make it easier for you to quickly find, edit and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go. Starting today, you can download new, standalone mobile apps for Docs and Sheets—with Slides coming soon. Need to find a spreadsheet? Go to the Sheets app. Need to create a document? Go to the Docs app. They’re all right there at your fingertips.

When you open the new apps, you’ll see your most recently edited files, which means less time searching and scrolling.

The apps also come with offline support built in, so you can easily view, edit and create files without an Internet connection. Now, if you have a brilliant idea for a best-selling novel while traipsing through the Amazonian rainforest (or you know, something more probable, like during flight takeoff) problem. You can jot down your idea in the Docs app on your phone, even when you’re offline.

You can get the apps on Google Play [Docs] [Sheets] and in the App Store [Docs] [Sheets]. If you don’t have time now, over the next few days you’ll be prompted to download the apps when you go to edit or create a document or spreadsheet in your Drive app. And of course, you’ll still be able to use the Drive app to view and organize all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and more.

So enjoy the Amazon—we’re looking forward to buying that novel someday. And in the meantime, just remember: even if a crocodile eats your phone, your files are safe in the cloud!


Today more than 30 million students, teachers and administrators globally rely on Google Apps for Education. Earning and keeping their trust drives our business forward. We know that trust is earned through protecting their privacy and providing the best security measures.

This is why, from day one, we turned off ads by default in Apps for Education services. Last year, we removed ads from Google Search for signed-in K-12 users altogether. So, if you’re a student logging in to your Apps for Education account at school or at home, when you navigate to, you will not see ads.

Of course, good privacy requires strong security. We have more than 400 full-time engineers — the world’s foremost experts in security — working to protect your information. We always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email in Gmail, which means no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between your laptop, phone or tablet and Gmail’s servers — even if you’re using public WiFi.

Today, we’re taking additional steps to enhance the educational experience for Apps for Education customers:

  • We’ve permanently removed the “enable/disable” toggle for ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. This means ads in Apps for Education services are turned off and administrators no longer have the option or ability to turn ads in these services on.
  • We’ve permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes.

Users who have chosen to show AdSense ads on their Google Sites will still have the ability to display those existing ads on their websites. However, it will no longer be possible to edit or add new AdSense ads to existing sites or to new pages.

We’re also making similar changes for all our Google Apps customers, including Business, Government and for legacy users of the free version, and we’ll provide an update when the rollout is complete.

On Thursday, May 1 at 9:00 am PT, we’ll be hosting a Hangout on Air on our Google for Education G+ page with myself; Jonathan Rochelle, Director of Product Management for Docs and Drive and Hank Thiele, Chief Technology Officer for District 207 in Park Ridge, IL who uses Google Apps. We'll be discussing these changes and answering your questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information about student privacy in Google Apps for Education, please visit our website.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Silji Abraham, CIO at Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, a life science and high technology company with more than 9,000 employees and operations in over 40 countries. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Can you tell us about Sigma-Aldrich and your decision to move to Google Apps?
Sigma-Aldrich is a leading life science and high technology company whose products are used in scientific research and disease diagnosis, and as key components in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Our customers include more than 1.4 million scientists and technologists in life science companies, university and government institutions, hospitals and industry. We have a global team of more than 9,000 employees, who produce and distribute more than 230,000 products to over 40 countries and provide excellent service worldwide.

Like many other organizations, our employees around the world create significant amounts of unstructured data in various forms to support our business and our customers. We started exploring Google Apps as a global collaboration platform to bring this unstructured content in real-time to every employee anywhere, irrespective of the device.

How does Google Apps fit into your vision to change and improve the way employees work?
Just as Sigma-Aldrich accelerates customers’ success through innovative products, customized solutions and unsurpassed service, our Information Technology group does the same for our internal customers. Our entire employee population benefits from the innovative, collaborative nature of Google Apps. At our recent sales meeting, for example, we relied on the Google Apps platform to make the week completely paperless. Key documents and up-to-date information were available and accessible to the team from their phones, tablets and laptops, and we didn’t have to waste any money printing things out or time worrying about changes to the plans along the way.

How is Google Apps changing the way you manage your IT?
Consumerization has driven significant changes in how the best businesses satisfy the collaboration needs of their employees. Now that we’re on Google Apps, we have a single platform that solves these needs across the enterprise, without the need for third-party add-ons. It’s easier to manage and provides a true consumerized experience for all our users. From an IT management perspective, we’ve simplified our collaboration platform significantly.

What role does Google Apps play in the strategy and success of your recruiting plans?
College graduates today are quite familiar with the consumerization of IT, such as Gmail and the Google Apps collaboration platform. I think this familiarity helps new employees acclimate to our business environment in a shorter period of time, increasing their efficiency and productivity.

What are you most excited about as you adopt Google Apps across the company?
I’m particularly excited about three specific things when it comes to our switch to Google Apps. First, we’re able to make all of our unstructured data available for collaboration to all employees, in real-time, on any device, supported by a full content search. Second, hundreds of disparate, custom-built small applications are naturally finding their way into Google Apps because of the power of a homogenous platform. These applications provide additional ways for real-time collaboration and a better user experience. Third, using Hangouts has already made us more productive as an organization, and we’ve only just begun. Jumping in on a video conference is no longer a siloed process. It’s seamlessly integrated with the flow of emailing a colleague or sharing a Google Doc.

Finally, let me just say that with Google Apps, I believe we’re supporting the core mission of Sigma-Aldrich internally to our employees. That is, we’re enabling our technology to improve the quality of life of employees, so they can focus their energy on developing and delivering the highest quality products and services to our customers.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Bhupesh Arora, Senior Director of New Technologies for Avery Dennison, a global leader in labeling and packaging materials and solutions. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Our founder, Stan Avery, invented the self-adhesive label and launched the modern labeling industry when he started Avery Dennison back in 1935. Seventy-eight years later, Avery Dennison products are all around us, in thousands of consumer and industrial applications. And we’re still innovating. Brand-enhancing labeling solutions, RFID-enabled inventory management systems and wearable medical sensors are just some of the products fueling our innovation pipeline.

It’s not surprising, then, that Avery Dennison was quick to adopt Google Apps for its global workforce. Enabling collaboration to unleash human creativity through fast, simple and robust digital means is a big step in innovation for us. We also expect significant payback in greater productivity and cost savings.

Adopting Google Apps has allowed us to retire costly, less interactive email, intranet and social media platforms and replace them with a single virtual work and collaboration space that’s accessible to our employees anywhere in the world. And Google’s data center and network infrastructure allow us to deliver these services securely and with low latency, regardless of location.

Some of our business leaders were concerned about the size and complexity of such a transformation, and with good reason. Managing this kind of change—asking 19,000 computer-based employees to adopt a whole new set of tools in their daily work habits—turned out to be one of the most important parts of the initiative.

With the help of Tempus Nova, a Google Apps Reseller and our change management partner, we planned carefully, started small, learned at every step, and built scale and momentum over a 9-month period. We cultivated individual employees to become knowledgeable and enthusiastic Google Guides. And we worked closely with individual business divisions as their employees began adopting Google Apps.

It was also a tremendous help to have all our senior leaders become early and visible users of the new tools. Our CIO, Rich Hoffman, was a particularly strong advocate. He championed the initiative from the beginning and immediately incorporated Google Apps into all his personal communications and document-sharing habits. He sent regular emails to the entire company promoting the tools, encouraging employees to explore them and amplifying the excitement that was quick to spread as we rolled out the Google platform around the globe. He knows the benefits of going to the cloud and appreciates how Google has been a full strategic partner throughout the process.

Today, nearly all our computer-enabled employees use Google Apps. It’s early in the experience, but we’re already seeing improvements in productivity and user satisfaction. Our employees were hungry for better communications and collaboration tools and the freedom to use them anywhere at any time. They love the speed and stability of their new Chrome browser, and they’re embracing Google Docs for its real-time editing and collaboration capabilities—and its ability to eliminate unnecessary meetings. And everyone is delighted with the easy, ubiquitous access to people and data made possible by a cloud-based platform. Our senior leadership sees a platform that is actively fostering a new era of innovation at Avery Dennison—one built on unfettered creativity and collaboration.

All in all, adopting Google Apps has been more than a change in technology for Avery Dennison—it’s a key part of a major transformation in the way we work.


Many of the world’s most successful new companies, from Angry Birds creator Rovio to photo messaging service Snapchat, have built their businesses on Google Cloud Platform. We want developers in the Asia-Pacific region to also experience the speed and scale of Google’s infrastructure, so starting today, we are expanding Google Cloud Platform support to include Asia Pacific zones and adding local language tools.

Google Cloud Platform is a set of compute, storage and big data products that allow developers to build on top of the same infrastructure and technology that powers Google. The expansion means that local developers across Asia Pacific can now experience better performance and lower latency. Developers around the world will also have access to a broader global network of servers.

Japanese game maker Applibot is an early adopter of Cloud Platform in the region and have already used it to build and deploy mobile games globally. With millions of downloads on Google Play and iTunes, the company says Cloud Platform has been critical to their success. Applibot does not need to worry about server maintenance or provisioning new hardware to serve millions of potential users when they ship the latest game. Google Cloud Platform scales smoothly so that the company can focus on what they do best — creating great games.

The expansion of Cloud Platform support to Asia is our latest investment we’re making to help businesses work better with cloud based tools as part of Google’s Enterprise business. In addition to local product availability, the Google Cloud Platform website and the developer console will also be available in Japanese and Traditional Chinese.

Developers interested in learning more about Google Cloud Platform can join one of the Google Cloud Platform Global Roadshow events coming up in Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul or Hong Kong. For more technical details, head over to the Cloud Platform blog.


Today marks the end of an era for computing, as Windows XP meets its maker. I remember when XP was released in 2001—it seemed like a revolution that introduced computers to a whole new generation. But fast forward 13 years and we live in a very different world—one in which we expect the latest and greatest software, and the ability to access our stuff from anywhere. Even Microsoft admits: it’s time for a change. After all, in 2001, computers looked like this:
In addition to the nearly 30% of desktops still running XP, many businesses are in a tough spot. Despite “significant” security and privacy risks, legacy software or custom-built apps have held businesses back from migrating in time for today’s XP support deadline. Companies in this position now find themselves at a timely crossroads.

It’s time for a real change, rather than more of the same. Chromebooks for Business offers you a secure and easy-to-use computing experience, along with a central web-based management console and lower total cost of ownership. If you’ve been considering Chromebooks for your company, until June 30, we’re sweetening the deal:

  • Buy Chromebooks for Business and get $100 off for each managed device you purchase for your company.
  • If your employees need to access desktop apps, we’ve partnered with Citrix and VMware to bring two offers:
    1. Get $200 off Chromebooks for Business with VMware Desktop as a Service (DaaS).
    2. Get Chromebooks for Business and 25% off Citrix XenApp Platinum Edition, which includes AppDNA software for accelerating Windows XP migration.
Last year, Forrester urged businesses to consider Chromebooks. Here are some reasons why even organizations that rely on desktop applications should consider a switch now:

  • Run your favorite work apps — yes, even offline: With more adoption of business web apps, companies are making the switch from Windows XP to Chromebooks. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides work online or offline. Quickoffice is built into every Chromebook and Cisco is bringing WebEx to Chromebooks soon.
  • Access traditional desktops and software, too: Customers, like Woolworths, access Windows applications in a virtual environment through providers like Citrix, VMware and others.
  • Power your kiosks: Use Chrome OS’s Kiosk mode to power your customer kiosks, shared employee terminals, or sales dashboard — like Dillard’s, which relies on Managed Public Sessions to help employees access their corporate email and important internal systems.
  • Certified for schools: For education, Chromebooks are verified to meet Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessment requirements with software from AIR and Pearson Testnav8. According to NPD, Chromebooks made up 21% of U.S. commercial laptop sales in 2013.

For more details about how to upgrade your IT solution, please visit our website. Don’t let your business go the way of tamagotchis and parachute pants. It’s time for a real change — something we can all agree upon.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Richard Wells, Head of Information Technology at Glyndebourne, a 1,200-seat opera house set in the grounds of a country house in East Sussex, England. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

English opera company Glyndebourne started out in 1934 as an intimate gathering for opera enthusiasts at the founders’ home. Today it’s a 1,200-seat opera house located in the grounds of a 600-year-old manor in the English countryside. We put on about 120 performances a year, including the annual Glyndebourne Festival in the summer and our traditional Autumn tour, which takes us to cities around England.

Before going Google last autumn, we relied on a traditional Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Exchange infrastructure. This setup required dedicated Windows computers to access all our files on various hard drives and servers, sometimes through complex remote connection processes. It was difficult, stage hands could not always access their email, schedules or documents and often had to use pen and paper to create notes after performance.

Google Apps has changed the way we work since employees can now access their work directly from their mobiles. Our House Manager previously had to email the ushers’ schedule to their personal email accounts. It was a tedious process. Now, all our ushers have their own Google accounts and we can share one roster as a Google Sheet and collaborate in one file.

Google Apps also helps those of us in headquarters be more efficient and resourceful. Each month our general director posts a popular news bulletin online. It’s lighthearted and informative, and great reading material for a coffee break - this meant many people printed it out to read, like a magazine. Now that we have gone Google we simply pop it up on our mobile devices any place, any time with the added financial benefit of paper and ink savings.

With the move to Google our IT staff were excited to be able to stop maintaining the on-premise email system, particularly as our company grew. We have nearly doubled our computer users to 200 in the last few years, while our IT resources stayed the same. As a result, we spent three full days a month maintaining Microsoft applications, updating software and troubleshooting remote employee issues. With Google Apps we now spend a fraction of that time on support and troubleshooting.

Under the old system we were running out of storage fast, including storage for our performance videos and sheet music. You can imagine how thrilled we were to learn that a single suite of products -- Google Apps for Business -- could resolve all of our problems around hosting, mobility and collaboration. With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise partner, we quickly deployed and migrated all our computer users to the new ecosystem. We now store just under 500 GB of digital performance material online with Google using Google Drive.

With Google giving us email, collaboration, business workflows and our storage needs in the cloud, the IT department has far fewer worries. Staff now spend their time on more meaningful jobs like creating high-quality recordings of our performances and improving our digital presences such as the Glyndebourne YouTube channel. Employees have seen an increase in their ability to focus on our core objective: creating world-class opera. Google Apps helps us bridge the creative and operational sides of the company. This allows us to work from anywhere, anytime so the show goes off without a hitch every night.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Rupert Hay-Campbell, information/communications technology and information governance officer for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a community in East London with 180,000 residents. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, we're dealing with a classic government challenge: the need to provide great technology for our 3,500 local council employees in a climate of severe budget austerity. In the middle of 2013 we turned our attention to upgrading our IT platform in preparation for the Windows XP end of life in April 2014.

We knew we had to either upgrade our 3,500 desktop computers and 800 laptops or find new ways to give employees access to our council systems, and preferably on devices that didn’t need to be constantly upgraded or managed by our IT staff. Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ticked all of these boxes – and more.

We want to future-proof our systems based on how our employees will be working five or 10 years from now. They’ll be more mobile, working from home or from various council offices, so they’ll rely on laptops. The applications they’ll use will be web-based, so a device built around a browser makes sense. At the same time, we must also manage council information in strict compliance with UK government security regulations.

Once CESG, the UK government agency responsible for IT security, developed security standards for councils using the Chrome operating system, we started switching out XP desktops and laptops with 2,000 Chromebooks for employees and 500 Chromeboxes for reception desks and shared works areas.

With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise Partner, and Elevate East London, the council’s joint venture IT outsourcing partner, we're currently rolling out an initial 1,500 Chromebooks. Our partners helped us provide access to council applications via a Citrix virtual desktop, but we’ll gradually move new apps to the Chrome browser.

When we finish deploying Chromebooks and Chromeboxes in early summer, we’ll have 1,000 fewer devices to manage compared to our stock of Windows XP devices. Most employees will only have a Chromebook, instead of both a desktop and a laptop.

Not only does this help employees bring their work anywhere, it also saves us £200,000 compared with the cost of deploying new Windows desktops, and we’ve estimated a further £200,000 saving on electricity costs with the more energy-efficient ChromeOS devices. And since employees can work anywhere, we’ll be able to make substantial savings on more efficient use of some council buildings and offices. Spending less money on more secure, worker-friendly and flexible technology is helping us at the council deal with the challenge of austerity cuts - and, of course, plan better for the future of our community.