Beginning next semester, students will be saying good-bye to warnings of full e-mail boxes as Georgetown switches from GUMail to Gmail.

Students will gain an increased memory of 256 megabytes, over five times more than the 50 megabytes currently available to students through GUMail.

The e-mail address of each student will not be changed after the switch; however, the new e-mail interface will resemble a typical Gmail account.

Google’s e-mail service Gmail offers about seven gigabytes of free space to each e-mail user. In addition, Gmail users have access to programs like Google Docs and Google Calendar.

“We certainly can’t compete with what Google has to offer in the consumer experience,” said Beth Ann Bergsmark, director of University Information Services. “It made a lot of sense.”

At this point, Bergsmark said she does not foresee any problems with the transition, explaining that UIS has already taken a number of precautions to ensure students, faculty and staff are able to keep all of their e-mails through the switch.

UIS started planning for an e-mail system replacement more than two years ago. Due to the large financial costs that go with creating an on campus e-mail service, the university looked to outside sources to provide e-mail services.

“With Google, we can use our NetID system and we can use it in a way where we don’t have to let Google or Microsoft to store the password,” she said. “When we looked where students were forwarding their mail, they were forwarding to Gmail.”

“The Gmail Web interface is something that students like better than others,” Mark Maloof, associate professor in the computer science department, said. “Then there is the storage; Google gives a lot of space and I think that is appealing to people. It is also a system that in theory people can use for the rest of their life.”

The first waves of transition will begin the weekend of Oct. 24, with faculty and staff as the first to experience the conversion. The second week of transitions will occur the week after.

UIS will not begin to switch students to the new Gmail accounts until February of next year.

The law and business school e-mail systems, which were not GUMail accounts, will not be part of the transition.

“We have not determined if MSB will move to the Google solution being provided by UIS,” said John Carpenter, chief technology officer for the McDonough School of Business. “We at MSB are beginning to have those conversations about the new Google solution now.”

According to Carpenter, students in the MSB have considerable technology requirements, which differ from students in other schools in Georgetown University.

According to Google spokesperson Morgan Magilligan, the search engine first introduced the Google Apps for Education Edition in October 2006. “Our goal is to help universities take advantage of the latest technologies without having to bear the costs,” Magilligan said.

Bergsmark said Arizona State University was one of the first schools to adopt the Google Apps for Education service, with numerous schools following suit. According to the Google Apps Education Web site, Northwestern University became one of the first private universities to deploy Google Apps for Education in June 2007.

Students currently enrolled at Georgetown will not have advertisements in their Gmail accounts, as Google will be gathering marketing data from the content of the messages. After a student graduates from Georgetown, Google advertisements will appear. Those students who do not want their e-mail accounts “crawled” by Google marketing tools are offered the option of obtaining faculty GUMail account under the current Georgetown e-mail system, which offers more space than the traditional student GUMail account.

“Google looks at the four years as potential to reach a new audience and grow a customer base,” Magilligan said. “These students will be familiar with the applications upon entering the business world and we hope to have users for life after they’ve been introduced to Google Apps during their college years.”

A number of students on campus have already turned to third party e-mail providers as an alternative to GUMail and have their Georgetown mail forwarded to their other accounts.

One of the biggest issues students had with the current GUMail system is its limited memory space.

“It has a limited storage capacity, which is annoying,” Andrew Malzberg (COL ’11) said. “It will be nice to not get e-mails that my inbox is full.”

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