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Making the Grade: FlashPanel and Google Apps

David Politis

February 5, 2013

3 minute read

General Google Apps Green

Growing Up Google

board-2Some of Google Apps’ biggest proponents are educational institutions. From small k-12 programs to the largest colleges and universities in the world, schools of all kinds welcome Google Apps for Education with open arms. Sure the price tag – or lack thereof – is enticing, but year after year IT administrators, faculty and students are delighted with the product’s unmatched messaging, storage and collaboration capabilities.

In fact, when we launched our management and security tool, FlashPanel, this past July, we never could have predicted its popularity among educational institutions. And now the very same tools used by some of our largest enterprise customers to secure and scale their businesses are benefitting school admins on a daily basis.

Changing the Way Thousands of Schools Use Google Apps

KIPP LA Schools has been a Google Apps customer since 2009 and even piloted the Chromebooks for Education program in the same year. KIPP LA actually halted an impending migration to Microsoft Hosted Exchange instead preferring Google’s EDU offering, which eliminated several points of concern like server management, data backup and frankly, cost. According to the schools’ IT director, Matthew Peskay, “KIPP LA doesn’t have to worry about access if an internal server goes down – all of the content is in the Google cloud.” For a growing school system, the ability to leverage Google’s expertise and multi-billion dollar infrastructure is priceless.

As KIPP LA continues to grow, the organization relies more and more on the scalability of Apps. But onboarding and managing these new students and staff take considerable effort from KIPP’s small IT department. To scale the system and gain an understanding of the expanding use of Gmail and Google Drive, KIPP installed FlashPanel.

So far, the application has provided Mr. Peskay with insight into Google Apps usage and has enabled him and his team to spend less and less time using technical command line tools. Peskay calls FlashPanel “indispensable” thanks to features like shared contacts management, group management and the guided user deprovisioning workflow.

Accelerating Google Apps Adoption

While KIPP LA has been on Google Apps for years and users are familiar with the system, El-Massria Integrated Schools, based in Egypt, is just rolling out the platform to hundreds of faculty members across three different campuses. In fact, before implementing Google Apps last August, El-Massria’s teachers did not have school-provided email accounts.

Prior to rolling out Google Apps to his staff, the school’s Director, Ahmed Nagy, ran training courses to prepare hundreds of teachers across three campuses for the school’s revolutionary move to the web. And in an effort to further streamline school practices, Mr. Nagy now requires teachers to email weekly lesson plans. Previously, everything was done by hand, which made reviewing each plan nearly impossible.

Mr. Nagy, who has a Bachelor’s degree in architecture and a Master’s in business, is a self-taught IT enthusiast and aims to expand El-Massria’s network of schools in the coming years. But Nagy can’t do it alone. In order to expand the school’s presence, Nagy says he needs to create a standardized IT system that can be managed remotely and does not solely rely on his expertise.

To help administer El-Massria’s new Google Apps system and create standardized policies for schools to come, Nagy installed FlashPanel. So far, Nagy has seen substantial benefit from FlashPanel through delegated access control, reporting and email signatures.

According to Mr. Nagy, Google Apps and FlashPanel are helping him change the school’s entire IT culture.

Google Apps is single handedly bringing today’s most sophisticated messaging, storage and collaboration tools to schools around the world free of charge. And coupled with FlashPanel’s management and security controls, IT administrators can truly harness the full power of the Google Apps suite.

For more information check out all of our FlashPanel EDU case studies here.