Google Apps for Education just got a lot better

The introduction of user policy management in Google Apps makes multi-domain hacks a thing of the past.

For those of us who have embraced Google Apps for Education, how long have we been asking for finer controls over the users in our domains? How many of us have created multiple domains to ensure that students couldn't chat, younger kids couldn't email, or parents could only access email? Those sorts of things that made us wonder if maybe, just maybe, we should have gone with Live@Edu and invested SharePoint and Server 2008 are now a thing of the past. Today, Google announced "one of the most highly requested features from administrators: user policy management."

Let me hear an Amen!

I wrote about the features and functions of the new and improved management interface that allows admins to turn individual Apps services on and off for subsets of users over at the Google blog, so I won't go into gory detail. However, long story short, this gives most of us everything we've been asking for in a really easy to administer package, all within the Google Apps administrator dashboard. Turn off chat for students, enable just Docs for little kids, enable email and docs only for parents, enable everything for teachers, whatever. You get the picture. And all of this happens within a single domain or, if you still want to have multiple domains, you can manage them from a single point.

This also makes testing and champion use cases far easier to manage. According to Google's announcement,

Organizations can also use this functionality to test applications with pilot users before making them more widely available. Sheri Stahler, Associate Vice President for Computer Services at Temple University said, “using the new user policy management feature in Google Apps, we’re able to test out new applications like Google Wave with a subset of users to decide how we should roll out new functionality more broadly.”

So there's your summer homework. Get those users into groups and fine-tune their privileges. You can even import them (both the groups and the users assigned to them) directly from your LDAP server. Rock on.

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