We’re starting a new feature on the Backupify blog – we’re going to ask some of our customers to talk about why they moved to Google Apps and how it’s changed their business. Today we’re pleased to start this series with a post from Hilary Croach, CIO at Bay Cove Human Services.
Each day, Bay Cove Human Services provides effective, compassionate care to over 5,000 individuals and families who face the challenges of developmental disabilities, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction and aging at over 150 sites in Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. Our goal is to provide full, rich lives for people with the greatest challenges.
We believe that everyone has value. We especially welcome those individuals other organizations are unable to help – persons with multiple diagnoses, a history of treatment failures and a total inability to pay for services.
Our Shift to Google
We had an email platform we had used for fourteen years. It was a great platform when we first got it. But, in recent years, it became clear it wasn’t being supported well, it wasn’t connecting in with mobile devices, and so we couldn’t continue with it. Of course, we first looked at Exchange and the idea of hosted solution was on the table. At that time we had about 1600 users. When we looked at Exchange implementation from the ground up (with appropriate disaster recovery), we were looking at about a $100,000-capital investment, and that was with the relatively cheap licensing that Microsoft offers to non-profits. But Google, for nonprofits of our size, offers Google Apps for free. That was a huge deal for us.
Now, of course using Google Apps means it’s not in our data center. And there are concerns about security if it’s not in our data center. But we quickly became pretty confident that the email and calendar piece of the Google Apps suite would work as well and be as secure as our previous email system for internal communications – and we were clear that sending an email out of any system is pretty much unsafe unless you have encryption tools and so forth. So we made the move.
After the decision to move to Google Apps, we began a significant “Google is coming” publicity campaign, with articles in our internal newsletter, on our intranet news and with posters in various locations. At first, we only turned on Mail and Calendar for the majority of users. Both of these Apps have better functionality than we had before, with the addition of good connectivity to mobile devices.
And we also rolled out Docs to small group of people. We were using Google Sites for other stuff, like our personnel policies. We were using it as adjunct to our intranet. But more and more people starting coming to me, telling me they really liked the collaborative abilities of Google Docs and they wanted me to turn it on for others.
But security issues slowed us down. Google Docs, out of the box, is a user-centric collaboration tool where users have the ability to easily share docs to anyone with no visibility for administrators as to how they are shared. As a behavioral healthcare provider, we must assume that some documents stored in Google Docs will contain protected information (protected under State and Federal statutes).
We found a third-party tool (Cloudlock) that gives administrators the ability to see, retrospectively, if something has been shared with the public, to an individual outside our domain, or within the whole domain. Administrators can then assure that all three levels of sharing are being used appropriately. We were then able to open up Google Docs to all of our users.
Now, about two years in, we have about 2,100 users at different levels, about 1,000 use Gmail actively, about 100 power users of Docs (Drive) for word-processing and spreadsheets, with about 600 moderate users and the rest using Docs very little. We are pretty far from moving off our MS Office infrastructure. But, we ARE storing potentially mission-critical documents and email and needed a good reliable backup tool. We tried a couple of options and settled on Backupify as the one that fit the needs of the users and administrators the best.