Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) in Boston, Massachusetts is the nation’s first independent public college of art and design founded in 1873. The college is state-funded, and as such has a unique set of technology needs and requirements.
MassArt looked to move to the cloud in order to alleviate the dependency of having to maintain their on-premise Microsoft Exchange system, and looked to find a solution that would be less susceptible to power outages, or any other physical service disruption that could potentially bring email and other productivity solutions to a standstill.
With a high level of design and technology-savvy users, MassArt sent out a request for proposals (RFP) for a Google Workspace for Education migration partner. MassArt selected Google Workspace after researching the platform’s ease of use, as well as Google Workspace for Education’s adoption across many higher education institutions. MassArt also found the real-time collaboration available through Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Sites compelling for the faculty, staff, but especially beneficial to their fine arts and design students. Shared documents, images, Google Sites and Fusion Tables are particularly useful in the critique and development of their work. Beyond the basic email, calendaring and tasks available through Outlook, they were able to offer a suite of tools that better served a collaborative fine art and design community.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design looked to migrate over 6,000 users from Microsoft Exchange to Google Workspace and selected SADA as an implementation partner after initially trying to complete the migration independently. The partnership with SADA was essential: “There were specifics we wouldn’t have known to consider otherwise,” said Julie Barrett, Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Assistant Director of IT and MassArt’s’ project manager for the migration. “There are nuances to the set-up of the domain(s), as well as intellectual property questions, and concerns about support and maintenance issues.”
The SADA team presented several options to MassArt for their migration needs, and in addition to migrating the faculty, staff and current student body to Google Workspace for Education, MassArt also decided to set up a separate domain for alumni accounts. Despite a few technical glitches with MassArt’s LDAP transfer, SADA worked closely with the MassArt team in order to successfully move 7,000 users within 6 months from active kickoff to full rollout. “That was an especially aggressive timeframe for us,” said Barrett. “But our CIO and VP’s were very happy with how smoothly the migration went.”
In a process which involved close coordination between the two teams, multiple meetings a week, and several training sessions with SADA’s Google Workspace for Education certified team, MassArt’s move to Google Workspace was seamless. “We were very impressed with the SADA team,” said Barrett. “They were supportive when we had questions, and brought issues to our attention that we hadn’t considered, and helped us assess the pros and cons of various options. It was a huge change, but an exceptionally successful one.”
Results and benefits
Reception to the Google Workspace platform has been extremely positive, with very high adoption rates. Many faculty, staff, and students were already using Google Sites, Docs, Blogger, and YouTube. With the switch, MassArt had to reset or transfer their accounts under the new domain, but SADA provided the instructions to do so as soon as the issue was discovered.
Students and faculty alike currently enjoy the functionalities of Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Blogger and Google Fusion Tables for design and art projects, as well as collaborating on administrative or curriculum development projects. MassArt also enjoys the benefits of Google Workspace for Education’s mobility, which allows users the flexibility of not only anywhere, anytime access, but the ability to select how many apps to sync together or which email accounts to sync to their mobile devices. Department administrators enjoy the simplicity and convenience of shared calendaring for operational and coordination purposes as well.
“I would highly recommend SADA to any other higher education institution,” said Barrett. “I was impressed all the way through.”