Google is replacing Microsoft in a bid to provide collaboration software for more than 3.1 million students in New York state.
The NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) has agreed to use the Google Apps for Education for all K-12 schools through the state, Stanley Silverman, director of Technology Based Learning Systems and professor in NYIT’s School of Education, told eWEEK in an interview Oct. 5.
Students in 697 public school districts Silverman oversees are using Google Apps’ Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and other collaboration tools, replacing the Microsoft Office suite in many instances. Silverman’s team at the non-profit NYIT is creating a network of certified trainers to teach faculty and staff how to use Google Apps.
Silverman said he and his team chose Google Apps over the Office suite to save money from conducting maintenance, upgrades and hiring specialized IT management personnel by moving to the cloud computing environment Google espouses. Schools, he said, were paying $20 and in some cases $60 per student to use Microsoft Office.
In the cloud model, Google hosts the collaboration applications on its servers and provisions them to users over the Internet. Organizations using Google Apps needn’t worry about maintaining servers and upgrading applications.
Google’s education edition is free, which is hard for Microsoft, IBM, Cisco or other collaboration providers to challenge.
When asked whether he was concerned about moving to the cloud, where schools cede control of apps to Google, Silverman said that there are always questions about capacity, reliability and security regarding the cloud.
However, he said these are outweighed by the need for students to access their application data from home or other computers when they leave school.
New York Schools Eschew Microsoft for Google
“In the absence of the cloud, there is no such thing as 24/7, and certainly not for schools,” said Silverman.
This is not possible in the traditional on-premise model perpetuated by Microsoft Office and Exchange. To compete for school seats, Microsoft offers [email protected], its Web-based messaging and collaboration solution.
The company recently teamed with ePals to provide 3-mail to New York City Schools to 2 Million students and parents, and enjoys 11 million installed seats in 10,000 schools.
In total, Google has racked up more than 8 million seats across the school districts in Oregon, Iowa, Colorado and Maryland.
For Google’s New York deal, each district has the opportunity to choose its own resources.
Deborah O’Connell, deputy superintendent at Clarkstown Central School District, told eWEEK she has had some 3,000 teachers, administrators and students using Google Apps for several months, with a systemwide rollout coming this year.
O’Connell said students are particularly using Google Docs, including documents, spreadsheet and presentation apps to work solo and together on class projects. School administrators used Google Apps to create standards-based report cards for 10 elementary schools.
While Google isn’t making money from Google App Education Edition, it is systematically shutting out Microsoft, IBM or any other collaboration provider from setting up shop in public schools.
Google is responsible for ushering collaboration software into the cloud more than three years ago, incumbents such as Microsoft and IBM have hundreds of millions of seats installed all over the world, making it hard for Google to gain traction.