Gmail for Student and Staff

I was reading in the Information section of Financial Review this morning that the NSW Department of Education and Training was going to put its email service out for tender.  Was impressed to hear that they are currently running Outlook/Exchange for students and staff – as far as I’m concerned this is definitely a best of breed solution as it has web access (via OWA) and full occasionally connected support (via both Outlook and Windows Mobile).

Reading on I was alarmed to hear that they might consider following Macquarie University and rolling out Gmail for students and staff.  For students this probably isn’t a problem as their email usage is probably not in the same league as staff and as such they might not get the same benefit out of being able to work offline.  That said, an increasing number of students have laptops and by the virtue of moving between lectures, tutorials, labs and of course home, they are more mobile than staff. 

All this leads back to the fact that a best of breed email solution must work online and continue to work offline.  Any solution that relies on being online in order to operate is simply going to hamper productivity.

The moral of this story is “don’t let IT drive your business, ensure business drives IT”.  In other words the usage of an application has to be the first priority on selecting an appropriate vendor, rather than the simplicity of the solution or even the price.

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