Draft Proposal to Adopt Google Apps for Education


This draft proposal has been written to provide the Ryerson community with an opportunity to review and provide feedback to the E-mail and Collaboration Committee before the committee makes a final proposal to Ryerson’s executive. We hope you can join us for one of the two town halls we have scheduled where we will present the information provided here and invite your comments. Please also feel free to comment and discuss this proposal in the comments section of this blog. The town halls are scheduled for:

  • Monday November 14 at 11:00 AM in LIB 72
  • Friday November 25 at 9 AM in LIB 72

Community Consultation

The E-mail and Collaboration Committee has consulted with the Ryerson community regarding the options for providing all Ryerson students, faculty, and staff with a new University-wide E-mail, Calendar, and Collaboration Platform. Our consultations have included:

  • information provided on this blog that includes comments from the Ryerson Community;
  • a symposium Exploring the future of E-mail, Privacy, and Cloud Computing at Ryerson;
  • requirements survey available to anyone at Ryerson;
  • a Request for Proposal(RFP) that reflected Ryerson’s requirements and included sections on accessibility, security, privacy, ownership of data, mail opt out options, legal jurisdictions, and the Patriot Act.
  • town halls to discuss this proposal;

The committee has also worked with Ryerson’s Privacy Coordinator and consulted with staff from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario regarding developing a Privacy Impact Assessment based on Privacy by Design Principles.

Adoption of Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Education is a full-featured Web and mobile enabled collaboration platform that includes Gmail, Google calendar, Google Docs (including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, drawings, and tables), Google Sites, Google Groups, and Google Talk (instant messaging, audio chats, and video conferences). Other features include Google Reader, Google+, Blogger, Picasa, Google Video for Business, Google Groups for Business, 25GB email storage per person, BlackBerry and Microsoft Outlook access, and integration with MS Office via SharePoint services. Google makes it possible to integrate their services with Learning Management Systems and Student Administration Systems for example Blackboard and RAMSS. Google also makes it possible to add custom widgets to their services and to build custom online services using Google’s App Engine. Google Apps for Education is not the same as Google’s consumer services. No advertising is shown to students, faculty, and staff and there is no data mining. (Alumni do see ads.) Google offers a level of physical and online security unavailable within Ryerson’s current IT infrastructure. Their services are more robust than any service at Ryerson and routinely provide well over 99.9% availability. All these services are available to Ryerson without cost. (Google also offers additional storage and other service enhancements for a fee.) The committee believes Google offers one of the best online services available anywhere in the world and, unlike any comparable service, makes all of it available for faculty, staff, and students for free. Consequently we recommend:

  1. Ryerson complete an in depth privacy impact assessment, financial risk assessment, integration and security assessment of adopting Google Apps for Education;
  2. Provided a satisfactory outcome to these steps, Ryerson should negotiate an acceptable agreement with Google and a systems integrator for professional services to help planning and implementing the adoption of Google Apps for Education;
  3. Provided a satisfactory contract is negotiated, Ryerson will adopt Google Apps for Education as Ryerson’s University-wide E-mail, Calendar, and collaboration platform;
  4. After the transition to Google Apps for Education is complete, the GroupWise E-mail and Calendaring system will be decommissioned;
  5. We also anticipate that Faculties and Departments that run their own E-mail and/or calendaring systems will also migrate to Google Apps for Education and that they be encouraged to do so in order to provide a universal calendaring and collaboration platform for everyone at Ryerson;

Security, Privacy, and the Protection of Confidential Records

The superior security, ability to control default privacy settings, the expected language in a contract with Google, and ability to integrate with Ryerson’s identity management, authentication, and directory services means that adopting Google Apps for Education will improve Ryerson’s ability to protect the privacy of its users and the confidentiality of records hosted by Google. However, Google is based in the United States and so falls under U.S. laws including anti-terrorism legislation such as the Patriot Act. Naturally this leads to concern that U.S. law enforcement agencies might have access to information that they would not have access to if Ryerson’s data is hosted by Ryerson or another Canadian organization based entirely in Canada. However, Canada has similar anti-terrorism legislation that provides for access to information without a court order and without notification. U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials have both formal and informal information sharing agreements in place and routinely share large amounts of information. Also mutual legal assistance treaties allow Canadian authorities to get warrants for US authorities, and vice versa. ( http://blog.privacylawyer.ca/2011/10/cloudlaw-law-and-policy-in-cloud.html ) In other words, U.S. law enforcement agencies are capable of accessing information in Canada without a court-issued warrant and without notifying the person to whom the data belongs. It is therefore difficult to judge if there is a significant increase in risk to using Google Apps for Education. However, even if the increase in risk is extremely small for most people, the consequences of access to private information may be significant. Consequently, we recommend that Ryerson provide an opt-out option for faculty and students who judge they have an increased risk if their E-mail is hosted by Google. Because the incremental risk of using a U.S.-based provider is so small, we expect the vast majority of students, faculty, and staff will prefer to use GMail. However, we recommend:

  1. Before providing access to Google Apps for Education, users and departments will be informed by Ryerson that data, including emails, stored with Google will reside in foreign jurisdictions and will be subject to the laws of those jurisdictions including the Patriot Act. They can then make an informed decision about what kind of information they will transmit through GMail or store in any of the Google Apps for Education services.
  2. Faculty and students may elect to use RMail instead of GMail. (Staff should discuss any concerns with their managers as operational concerns may make opting out unfeasible.) However they must choose between Email systems. They cannot use both.
  3. All faculty, staff, and students will be provided with a Google calendar which may contain automatically updated schedule information from RAMSS and information regarding significant dates, events, and deadlines.
  4. By default, all faculty, staff, and students have available to them all the features of Google Apps for Education except E-mail for users who opt to use RMail.
  5. Authentication will be done by Ryerson with no need to provide your login credentials to Google when only the web interface is in use.
  6. Logging in through my.ryerson.ca and accessing resources available through Google will not send your Ryerson password to Google. Some services may require you provide Google with a password. For example to use an E-mail client that supports IMAP and connects directly to Google’s service. Where possible Ryerson and Google will work together to avoid this scenario or provide options such as using a second password only for Google. Otherwise Ryerson will notify the community where passwords will pass through Google’s service.
  7. There will be no advertising or data mining for faculty, staff, and student accounts. Google may display ads in Alumni accounts.
  8. Google will not own any data. All data is the property of Ryerson and/or its end users and the contract with Google will have no impact on the intellectual property rights, custody, or control of faculty, staff, and student data.
  9. Google will make available to Ryerson SAS 70 Type 2 internal controls compliance reports. These reports are conducted by a third party and include information on Google’s controls and processes related to physical security, privacy, logical security, change management, organization and management.
  10. All client/service Web traffic will be encrypted in transit by default as will all University/Google traffic.
  11. The RMail system is not expected to provide the capacity or quality of service of GMail. After two years Ryerson will re-examine the use of RMail as an opt out option – especially to explore if there are better ways to mitigate any risks of using a provider in a foreign jurisdiction and to review the quality of service offered by RMail.


Ryerson’s E-mail and Calendaring systems have not remained competitive with online services provided by companies like Google. For example, Ryerson’s systems do not provide Gmail’s features, storage capacity, or availability. Ryerson does not currently offer University-wide calendaring, instant messaging, video chat services, real-time collaborative document editing and review, and other services required to provide a rich online working and collaboration environment.

Adopting Google Apps for Education will provide the Ryerson community with a rich collaboration platform that will work consistently across the entire University. Just as Ryerson’s Master Plan is a bold undertaking designed to revitalize the campus and act as a catalyst for change and renewal, we believe adopting Google Apps for Education will act as a catalyst by dramatically improving the online environment at Ryerson.


Updated Nov. 28, 2011 with small changes to items 6 and 8 to address concerns expressed by faculty regarding single sign on and custody and control.

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Is Ryerson Ready to Go Google?

Last March we asked the Ryerson community what you want from Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems. We conducted a survey and many of you also took the time to comment on this blog. Here are just a few of the survey comments we received:

  • “Search functionality across all folders, unlike RMail, where you have to search one folder at a time.”
  • “Threaded E-Mail to group replies together”
  • “large attachment size and storage”
  • “I need a system that makes it easy to send things to groups – teacher groups, student groups, research teams.”
  • “I want my name and e-mail address protected so that only people with Ryerson accounts would be able to access the information.  It should not be readily available to the general public.”
  • “Good junk filters.”
  • “Almost anything would be better than Groupwise ;-)”
  • “If calendaring would allow me to post potential meeting times with students that they could sign up for, that would be great.”
  • “SWITCH TO GMAIL! Google Docs is awesome! The calendar is awesome! Google Labs is awesome!
  • “Micro$oft Please!!!    Gmail sucks especially in China!”
  • “The existing system meets my needs; there is no need to change it.”
  • “it would be nice to have iPhone sync features.”
  • “It is critical that I can control who can see specifics in my schedule versus that I’m simply ‘busy’, but without seeing any details.”
  • “I’ve used external Wikis to do group collaboration.  It would be great if it could be done internally, instead.”
  • “google docs is what I would like to see in house at Ryerson.”
  • “Online voice and video conference would be useful, especially for graduate students.”

There were hundreds of other comments. We reviewed them all and incorporated your feature requests into a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a New Collaboration Platform for Ryerson. We also added significant sections on accessibility, security, privacy, ownership of data, mail opt out options, legal jurisdictions, and the Patriot Act. The RFP was posted on August 22, 2011 and closed on October 3rd. The proposals Ryerson received were evaluated by a committee that included representatives from Computing and Communications Services, a representative from faculty, and a student representative.

The committee reached a consensus to accept two proposals based on Google Apps for Education. The only difference between the proposals is which third party system integrator may help Ryerson setup, customize, and migrate mail and calendar events to Google Apps for Education.

Google Apps for Education is not the same as Google’s consumer service. The Apps for Education service  allows you to keep your @ryerson.ca address, does not data mine your Email or show you ads. Gmail provides 25 GB of storage space and Apps for education includes a University-wide calendar system, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Talk, etc.

Does this mean Ryerson will replace its Email and calendaring systems with Google Apps for Education? The RFP was part of a larger consultation process. For background information please see:


The proposals that were accepted will help form part of a recommendation that will go to Ryerson’s executive for approval.

However, before we make a recommendation to the executive, we’d like to put a draft recommendation before you to see what you think. We will be holding two Town Halls where we will present our recommendations:

  • Monday November 14 at 11:00 AM in L72
  • Friday November 25 at 9 AM in L72

We hope you can join us. We plan to record at least one of the sessions and encourage you to participate by posting questions and comments here on this blog.
We also plan to post a draft recommendation for you to review on this site soon.

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What do YOU want from Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems?

Ryerson is evaluating its E-mail, calendaring, and collaboration systems. We are seriously considering using a system like Google’s Apps for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 for Education. We are also considering other options such as Ryerson hosting its own systems or contracting with a Canadian provider.

Update 2011/11/22: Please note the survey is closed. You may be interested in other blog posts including:

We want to hear what you think. What features are important to have in Ryerson’s E-mail system?  Should Ryerson offer instant messaging, Web-based audio chat and video conferencing, document sharing, and collaborative authoring of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations? How important are those features?

Please take the time to fill out an online survey. The survey requires that you log in using your my.ryerson.ca user name and password so that everyone can only fill out the survey once and so we can group responses by faculty, staff, and students. Although you must log in, your Ryerson ID will be removed from the survey database after the survey closes so that your response will be anonymous.

Please complete the survey.

Find out more about this project by reading other posts at http://email.blog.ryerson.ca.

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Symposium Presentations and Other Resources

As they become available we will post presentation slides and other resources from the Symposium: Exploring the Future of E-mail, Privacy, and Cloud Computing at Ryerson here:


Complete video of both the morning and afternoon sessions are available:


Presentation Slides

Why are we doing this? – Brian Lesser, Acting Director, Computing and Communications Services, Ryerson University

Keynote: Will we have Privacy in the Cloud? … Only if we embed it, by Design: Implications for the Future of Privacy – Dr. Ann Cavoukian,  Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario

Privacy and the Cloud for Universities and the Real World. – David Fraser, Partner, McInnes Cooper

Online Services for Education from Microsoft: Live@Edu and Office 365 for Education -Karen McGregor, Industry Solution Specialist – Education, Microsoft

Google Apps for Education:  Securing EDU Data in the Cloud -Steven Butschi, Strategic Accounts Manager, Google

Privacy and Academic Freedom in the Age of Cloud Computing – James Turk, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers

Next Steps for Ryerson – Dimitrios Androutsos, Chair, Advisory Committee on Academic Computing, Ryerson University

Other Resources

Commissioner Cavoukian Says the Patriot Act Is “Nothing” – Dan Michaluk Partner, Hicks Morley

Privacy Risk Management, Building privacy protection into a Risk Management Framework to ensure that privacy risks are managed, by default – Information and Privacy, Commissioner, Ontario, Canada

Adam Vrankulj posts some student reactions to the idea of outsourcing email and collaboration services: http://goo.gl/hYllv

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Symposium Webcast

[ Update: Video of the Symposium is now available at: https://ryecast.ryerson.ca/25/Page/Published/183.aspx ]

Live video of the Symposium, Exploring the Future of E-mail, Privacy, and Cloud Computing at Ryerson, will be available live at:


Look for the 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM events in the Live Event Schedule list.

The Symposium schedule and other information is available at http://email.blog.ryerson.ca/2011/01/17/introduction/

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Symposium Registration is Closed

Online registration is now no longer available for the Symposium: Exploring the Future of E-mail, Privacy, and Cloud Computing at Ryerson. The Symposium is on February 24 and runs from 9:30 AM until 4 PM in the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre,
245 Church Street. Room ENG 103.

There is no charge for registration and a modest lunch including a variety of sandwiches and vegetable trays will be provided for those that request it. We have reserved most of the available seats for the Ryerson community but have set aside some seats for guests. Each person must register separately – we are not setup to handle group registrations.

[Update: Registration is closed.]

To register please complete the online registration form.

If you have questions about the Symposium please contact: apps@ryerson.ca

Registration will close on February 21.

More information on the Symposium is available here: http://email.blog.ryerson.ca/2011/01/17/introduction

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E-mail and Collaboration Tools Consultation

The Advisory Committee on Academic Computing (ACAC) and Computing and Communications Services (CCS) are initiating a consultation process with the Ryerson community regarding the future of E-mail and collaboration systems for Ryerson.

The consultation is a result of:

  1. difficulties Ryerson has experienced in maintaining an E-mail system that is competitive with cloud services from Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft and systems commonly used in business;
  2. lack of a university-wide calendar and scheduling system for faculty, staff, and students;
  3. limitations in the Blackboard system – especially regarding collaborative tools;
  4. the challenges of offering other collaboration tools at a scale that can accommodate the needs and evolving expectations of all students, faculty, and staff.

In past years, ACAC and CCS has investigated various options for renewing Ryerson’s E-mail system. The costs to replace the R-mail system with a Microsoft Exchange-based system was estimated at roughly $1.5 million, even before improvements in storage capacity were considered. If the storage capacity of the system were brought in line with cloud offerings the cost would have been significantly higher. At the time there seemed to be little appetite on the part of everyone involved in the discussions for expenses on that scale. In the current economic climate there may be even less appetite for making large expenditures to renew our in-house system.  In addition other collaborative systems are required beyond E-mail and calendaring including systems such as blogs, wikis, document sharing, online voice and video, and instant messaging. While CCS does provide services in some of these areas they are not designed to scale so that everyone can freely use them. Nor are they accessible in a unified portal experience; these systems are currently stand-alone.

An important trend in the university space is to move E-mail and collaboration services to one of the two free cloud-based services hosted by either Google or Microsoft. These services offer a rich range of collaborative services and features that are very difficult to match with in-house systems. For example they frequently report over 99.9% uptime, very large storage quotas, and integrated instant messaging, voice, and video services. In Canada, Lakehead University and Wilfred Laurier have outsourced their student E-mail and collaborative systems to Google. The University of Toronto is working on something similar for student E-mail, and the University of Alberta has completed negotiations with Google to host all their faculty, staff, and student E-mail and “Apps for Education” accounts. U of A’s agreement with Google prohibits data-mining and advertisements.

In light of this ACAC and CCS will:

  1. Investigate the benefits, costs, and risks of using a cloud service from a provider like Google or Microsoft versus locally hosted services;
  2. Engage the Ryerson community in a consultation process regarding options for improving E-mail and collaboration services;
  3. Recommend to the Provost and Vice President Academic, and to the Vice President Administration and Finance, how Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems should be improved or replaced.

This web site is a first step in starting a broad dialog at Ryerson about the future of E-mail and collaboration tools at Ryerson. We hope to provide more information here and hope that members of the Ryerson community will also contribute posts and comments to this site.

As part of the broad community consultation, Ryerson’s Privacy and Cyber Crime Institute will be co-sponsoring a symposium on February 24 with us on Exploring the Future of E-mail, Privacy, and Cloud Computing at Ryerson. Our current working agenda for the conference is:

Time Title Details
9:30 – 10:00 Welcome and Introductions Why are we doing this?

– Brian Lesser, Acting Director, Computing and Communications Services, Ryerson University

10:00 – 11:00 Keynote: Will we have Privacy in the Cloud? … Only if we embed it, by Design: Implications for the Future of Privacy Privacy by Design (PbD) has witnessed phenomenal growth in the past year, culminating in it being made an International Privacy Standard last October. What over a decade ago was an approach to integrating universal privacy principles into user-centric information and communications technologies, has since grown to encompass business processes, physical spaces, information architectures, infrastructures and ecosystems. PbD’s holistic, proactive and innovative approach to assuring privacy in the Information Era is now globally recognized. Dr. Cavoukian will  discuss current trends, and applications of Privacy by Design in the emergent cloud computing space.

– Dr. Ann Cavoukian,  Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario

11:00 – 12:00 Privacy and the Cloud for Universities and the Real World. In the last few years, universities and others have looked skyward as a response to managing IT costs and providing world-class services. Companies like Google, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Apple are now looking to the cloud to put leading-edge computing power into the hands of users. Surrendering direct custody of data and migrating student, customer and business information to the cloud raises significant and complicated privacy and security issues. David Fraser will cut through the fluff and paranoia associated with the cloud to provide a clear-eyed view of what the issues are and how they can be addressed.

– David Fraser, Partner, McInnes Cooper

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 Vendor Presentations Online Services for Education from Microsoft: Live@Edu and Office 365 for Education

-Karen McGregor, Industry Solution Specialist – Education, Microsoft

Google Apps for Education:  Securing EDU Data in the Cloud

-Steven Butschi, Strategic Accounts Manager, Google

2:00 – 2:30 Privacy and Academic Freedom in the Age of Cloud Computing As university employers make communications and vital university services available only through electronic means, they must take every reasonable action to protect the privacy of academic staff, as privacy and academic freedom are closely interlinked. That interlinkage will be discussed, and recent challenges faced by academic staff in protecting their privacy and academic freedom will be examined.

– James Turk, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers

2:30 – 3:30 Panel Discussion Moderator:

  • Kathleen Greenaway, Privacy and Cyber Crime Institute, Ryerson University


  • Fred Carter, Senior Policy & Technology Advisor, Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
  • David Fraser, Partner, McInnes Cooper
  • Karen McGregor, Industry Solution Specialist – Education, Microsoft
  • Steven Butschi, Strategic Accounts Manager, Google
  • James Turk, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, representation from Google.
3:30 – 4:00 Next Steps for Ryerson – Dimitrios Androutsos, Chair, Advisory Committee on Academic Computing, Ryerson University

Location: George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre
245 Church Street. Room ENG 103.
View 245 Church St in a larger map.

We hope you can join us!


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