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Google Apps for Business: The Admin Perspective

What happens to IT admins when we switch to Google Apps?One of the prevailing questions for an organization moving to the cloud is what to do with the IT admins currently managing the on premise systems. “How much administration does Google Apps take compared to Exchange, GroupWise, or Lotus Notes?” “Are there any certifications or courses these admins can take to solidify their understanding of the platform?” “Will our admins feel threatened and resist the change?” All of these points are important to think about prior to moving to the cloud and will contribute to making the migration experience a positive one.

“How much administration does Google Apps take compared to Exchange, GroupWise, or Lotus Notes?”

Google Apps requires much less administration than on premise systems. You of course still need to consider managing users, groups, and services at the minimum; however consider what takes up the majority of an admins’ time when managing an on premise solution. Time is most notably spent maintaining these systems. Performance checks, OS updates, software patches, the list goes on and on just to make sure that the server sitting in the back room is running at peak performance.

With Google Apps, all of these maintenance concerns are alleviated. You’ll have automatic feature updates instead of waiting for new installations or upgrades, patches will be a thing of the past, and there’s never a need for paranoia about the physical or virtual security of your data. Moving to a cloud-based solution will most likely reduce the number of people necessary to manage your system in half. What’s the next step then for these employees? They already know a lot about your company – the way you work, the culture, as well as your users’ preferences. Give them a new role that can add value to your business, while continuing innovation beyond Going Google.

“Are there any certifications or courses these admins can take to solidify their understanding of the platform?”

Google now offers a certification program which acknowledges an individual’s ability to effectively administer Google Apps for Business. When training to become a Certified Google Apps Administrator, there are numerous resources available both in the form of written documentation as well as webinars to prepare the individual for the exam.

“Will our admins feel threatened and resist the change?”

I have encountered two different extremes of IT admins when deploying Google Apps. “Type A” is excited for the transition and proud of the organization’s vision for moving in a direction that the industry is clearly headed. This individual embraces the opportunity to refocus his or her talents on progressive activities opposed to retroactive maintenance. I have also encountered the “Type B” admin, who is resistant to the change. The simple truth here is that this person has become complacent, making the IT field not the best option for that individual anymore. IT is a constantly evolving career; talk to anyone who has been around for a while and they will list off numerous projects and teams they have worked on (all with different objectives). If an individual is only capable of managing Exchange, Lotus Notes, or GroupWise because they thought it would never be out of demand, then that is nothing less than poor vision.

To sum it up:

  1. Google Apps requires less administrative attention, allowing you to refocus your staff on progressive opportunities opposed to retroactive maintenance.

  2. The Certified Google Apps Administrator program is available to anyone who wants to solidify his or her skills for managing an elite set of core services.

  3. If your Exchange, Lotus Notes, or GroupWise admin has hitched their horse to one wagon, he or she is probably not the best fit for your company.

What to look for in a CIO

Originally published on July 30, 2014

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