Friday, November 21, 2008

SADA Systems and Kent State University

One of the first 10 Google Apps for Enterprise partners worldwide and initial contributor to the Google Apps Open Source provisioning tool kit, SADA Systems, Inc. has developed a proven track record in implementation of Google Apps Education Edition solutions. SADA works with a diverse client base to create custom, leading edge solutions that strategically meet client business objectives.

Kent State University was founded in 1910 and has grown to become one of the largest regional education systems in the country. In addition, to the main Kent campus, the university has seven other campuses throughout Ohio.


In many ways this Google Apps implementation presented a different set of challenges - an immense number of users who required the ability to migrate both contact and email data from Kent State's legacy platform to Google Apps. Provisioning 120,000 Google Apps users wouldn't be difficult, but migrating their data in a batch process would be inefficient, and problematic. Kent State University requested SADA's assistance with the following:
  • Development of a self-service, on-demand mechanism where users can opt-in to migrate their existing email and contacts to Google Apps.
  • Consulting on Google Apps deployment best practices, go-live checklists, as well as overall oversight around project success.
  • Working on strategies to integrate Google Apps provisioning with Sungard's Luminis, an educational portal platform and its sister application, the Banner enterprise resource planning solution for educational institutions.

SADA worked with Kent State to develop a strategy that addressed the needs of their students, faculty, and staff, as well as the stringent requirements of their IT department. These included:
  • Development of a secure, custom self-service solution that allowed users to migrate their existing email from the University's legacy email platform to Google Apps. In order to accommodate a significant number of users who could simultaneously use the self-service migration tool, SADA worked with Kent State to build a system to handle multiple simultaneous connections (up to 500), residing on a load-balanced and clustered, LAMP-based and virtualized infrastructure.
  • Overall project management and consulting services, and guidance/assistance for Kent State University and their other vendors about Google Apps deployment best-practices.
  • Continual maintenance and support for the self-service migration solution following deployment.

With SADA's assistance and the development of a custom platform, Kent State University was able to smoothly and effectively implement Google Apps allowing them to gradually transition away from their legacy email platform. Improvements to efficiency while streamlining administration have made big improvements to productivity, and freed up the university's own IT department to focus on mission-critical and value-oriented projects.

"One of the important aspects of the plan was allowing users the option to move their old e-mail and contacts list to their new Google account. For this critical component of the project, the university called upon the expertise of SADA Systems to help create a unique opt-in solution that allows users to migrate their e-mail from the same self-service Web site," says Roberta Sikula-Schwalm, Associate Vice President for Information Services, Kent State University. "For the individual user, it’s as simple as checking a box, and their old emails and contacts show up automatically in their new Google email accounts."

Ms. Sikula goes on to praise the process: "The result to date has been extremely successful. So far, more than 19,000 individuals have chosen to activate their accounts early, just two weeks following the project launch. SADA has provided invaluable assistance as an implementation partner in working through technical questions regarding the migration, and the Kent State community seems pleased with the new features they are accessing through their Google Gmail accounts."