Prior to moving to G Suite* for Education, Berkeley County Schools’ central administrative office had been running off of Exchange 2003. The District Office was utilizing two Exchange servers, located in two separate buildings, and was starting to experience difficulties with their database growing beyond their capacity to service it. At the time, there was no direct path to upgrade to the latest version of Exchange, and the District Office feared the methods they would have to take on would be far too costly. Berkeley County Schools also considered virtualizing their servers with Office 365, but feared that option would consume too many resources and also end up being too expensive.
Berkeley County Schools began to evaluate G Suite for Education as a communication and collaboration solution based on a recommendation from another school district in the area that had already migrated to G Suite. David Kenney, Director of Research and Technology, was given the recommendation of SADA Systems as an implementation partner with specialized experience migrating school districts of varying sizes from their legacy system to the G Suite platform. Kenney spoke with the CTO of Chicago Public Schools while the SADA team was in the midst of completing the CPS migration, and based on the positive feedback, began to work with SADA Systems to implement G Suite for Education for Berkeley County Schools’ central office.
Kenney and his team worked with SADA Systems to create a project plan that would have staff members fully migrated over one weekend, in advance to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. “The SADA team did a great job of finding out what we wanted to happen, when we wanted it to happen and helped us throughout the process,” said David Kenney, Director of Research and Technology at Berkeley County Schools. “The main person doing the migration stayed in touch throughout.”
SADA Systems also conducted training for the District immediately before the migration weekend, so faculty and staff would be better prepared for the transition. SADA’s training team conducted remote webinar training and provided the opportunity for follow-up questions.
Results and Benefits
Overall, the response to G Suite for Education has been overwhelmingly positive. The District’s central administrative office staff enjoys utilizing streamlined communication and collaboration solutions with Google Drive and Docs, used every day in different ways by various teams on the staff. Different departments use Drive as a source of shared information for both work and social functions – for example, the technology team currently uses Drive to share information for projects, such as workflow documentation, while administration uses Google Docs to help plan gatherings for the staff, such as birthdays.
Google Calendar is also heavily used – previously, staff members were using a third-party product for group calendaring capabilities on Exchange, which was more expensive and more difficult to use. With G Suite, shared calendars are fast and intuitive, used by staff members to view free/busy information and see major upcoming events for various departments. The District Office is also enjoying the freedom to be productive while mobile on the device of their choice – many staff members use their Android, iPhone or tablet to complete their work, and Google’s user-friendly interface accommodates that choice.
Today, the staff members use G Suite to better connect and engage with one another, with Google Drive and Docs real-time collaboration capabilities. Scheduling time for meetings to complete major initiatives is made simpler using Google Calendar, and staff have the ability to work more flexibly from any location, across a wide range of devices. Following the successful reception to G Suite for Education at the central administrative office, Berkeley County Schools is currently in the midst of migrating the staff members of their schools to G Suite.
*Note: At the time of this case study, G Suite for Education was known as Google Apps for Education