Chapter 4: Google Apps FAQs

Table of Contents

General FAQs

Security & Privacy FAQs

General FAQs

Is Google Apps really free?

Google Apps for Education is free – available at no charge for nonprofit educational institutions anywhere in world. There's no "catch." Google Apps for Education is free of ads, so that faculty, staff, and students never see ads in any application – ever.

What's included with Google Apps?

Google Apps includes Gmail and a full range of applications for getting work done, in the classroom and among faculty and staff. Calendar, document (word processing, spreadsheet, and more), forms for surveys or other input, website creation and publishing, video sharing, and group communication are all integrated into Google Apps. Video, voice, and IM chat are also built right in. You can use all of these services or just what you want – it's up to you.

What if I only want to use Gmail, or use other services within Google Apps, but not Gmail?

You select which services in the Google Apps to make available to your domain – or even for specific groups of users.

What are the technical requirements?

You can use Google Apps with any computer or mobile device that's capable of internet access. You don't need any extra servers, IT staff, or hardware. When you're not online, you can use an easy extension to work with your documents. You can import/export your documents into common formats, including Microsoft Office, or add solutions that sync and back up your documents on your computer.

What about reliability?

Google guarantees 99.9% uptime – which exceeds the uptime generally associated with on-premise solutions.

Who owns my data?

Data created and stored within Google Apps is available until you remove it for as long as you maintain an active Google Apps account. If you wish to move data in or out of Google Apps, our tools help you easily import, export, or download information. After you delete an account, we remove the data associated with that account.

Can I customize my email policies, and create different policies for faculty and students?

Yes. Policies include controls for the source, destination, or content of messages. You can set up different email policies for faculty and students using the built-in objectionable content and content compliance policies. Usage policy for the other services included in Google Apps remain consistent across users in your school.

Can I archive email with Google Apps?

Yes, with Google Message Discovery, an add-on email archiving product provided by Google, available to educational institutions at a 66% discount from regular price.

How does use of Google Apps affect compliance with the Child Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)?

Your school assumes the responsibility for complying with COPPA and the information that students submit. Per the Google Apps for Education Agreement, any school administering Google Apps for Education acknowledges and agrees that it is solely responsible for compliance with COPPA, including, but not limited to, obtaining parental consent concerning collection of students' personal information used in connection with the provisioning and use of the Services by the Customer and End Users.

Security & Privacy FAQs

Two of the most common topics of questions regarding Google in general, and Google Apps specifically, are security and privacy. We take both topics very seriously and truly believe that our offerings are a great option for customers on both fronts. Our business is built on our users' trust: trust in our ability to properly secure their data and our commitment respect the privacy of the information they place in our systems by not giving that information to others or using it inappropriately.

For the full Security & Privacy FAQs as they relate to Google Apps, visit this site.

Google Apps is also governed by a detailed Privacy Policy, which ensures we will not inappropriately share or use personal information placed in our systems.

Here are some of the most common security and privacy questions:

Who owns the data that organizations put into Google Apps?

To put it simply, Google does not own your data. We do not take a position on whether the data belongs to the institution signing up for Apps, or the individual user (that's between the two of you), but we know it doesn't belong to us!

The data you put into our systems is yours, and we believe it should stay that way. We think that means three key things.

Where is my organization's data stored?

Your data will be stored in Google's network of data centers. Google maintains a number of geographically distributed data centers, the locations of which are kept discreet for security purposes. Google's computing clusters are designed with resiliency and redundancy in mind, eliminating any single point of failure and minimizing the impact of common equipment failures and environmental risks.

Access to data centers is very limited to only authorized select Google employees personnel.

Is my organizations data safe from your other customers when it is running on the same servers?

Yes. Data is virtually protected as if it were on its own server. Unauthorized parties cannot access your data. Your competitors cannot access your data, and vice versa. In fact, all user accounts are protected via this virtual lock and key that ensures that one user cannot see another user's data. This is similar to how customer data is segmented in other shared infrastructures such as online banking applications.

Google Apps has received a satisfactory SAS 70 Type II audit. This means that an independent auditor has examined the controls protecting the data in Google Apps (including logical security, privacy, Data Center security, etc) and provided reasonable assurance that these controls are in place and operating effectively.

What does a Google Apps SAS70 Type II audit mean to me?

An independent third party auditor issued Google Apps an unqualified SAS70 Type II attestation. Google is proud to provide Google Apps administrators the peace of mind knowing that their data is secure under the SAS70 auditing industry standard.

The independent third party auditor verified that Google Apps has the following controls and protocols in place:

Can my organization use our own authentication system to provide user access to Google Apps?

Google Apps integrates with standard web single sign-on systems using the SAML 2.0 standard. Organizations can do the integration themselves, or work with a Google partner to accomplish this.