[Foundation-l] Wikimedia Foundation switching to Google Apps?

Jon Davis jdavis at wikimedia.org
Tue Oct 26 21:20:32 UTC 2010

As a quick introduction, I'm Jon Davis[1], one of the Office IT guys in the
SF office.  Since the Google Apps migrations is one of my major projects,
I'll try to answer your questions the best I can.  Replies in line.

On Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 17:22, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Hi.
> This morning the Wikimedia Foundation had a meeting about migrating to
> Google Apps. Google Apps is a Web-based closed source office suite that
> includes Gmail and a few other services.[1]
You are correct. I gave a presentation yesterday morning to the staff.  I'm
impressed that you're already on top of this.

> I had a few questions about this migration.
> Has the decision to use Google Apps been finalized? If so, who made the
> final decision?
Yes, the decision has been made.  Office IT did the original research and
made our recommendations to the CxO level.

> What are the benefits of using Google Apps for the Wikimedia Foundation?
I presume you mean benefits over our existing setup.  In which case some of
the answers are: integrated calendaring, shared contacts, web based access
and general integration.

> Is there a concern about using closed source software when there are
> comparable open source alternatives?
The problem with this question is the word "comparable".  Yes, there is a
multiplicity of software that does _similar_ but just because it is similar
means one will work in place of the other (Gimp vs Photoshop for example).
Office IT spent many hours evaluating a number of email/calendaring/contact
solutions, most of which were Open Source (but we had some other options in
there like Google Apps).  Based on our specific needs (which is more than
just the few high level points above), Google Apps was the only reasonable

Something else to consider is what "open source" means.  Many of the "open
source" options aren't totally open source. In order to get the full feature
set or have more than a handful of users, you have to pay them for a
license.   So while many of these products advertise themselves as "open
source", a large portion of the features (possibly everything that would
make us want to switch) is not actually open source code.

One of the important things to remember is that even though Google is closed
source, they use open standards.  We will migrate our email in via IMAP, our
calendars via iCalendar, and (should we wish to to do so) we can leave the
exact same way.   Nothing about this migration will be locking us in.  In
fact, we already have plans to revisit the open source options (after a
reasonable amount of time has passed) to see how they have evolved.  If in a
few years time an OSS solution will meet our needs - we'll switch back over.

Is there a concern that this will bring Google and the Wikimedia Foundation
> closer together? After a $2 million grant, I imagine some people looking in
> from the outside have their concerns about a takeover.
Google Inc had nothing to do with this decision.  When we wanted to pursue
the Google Apps project further, we contacted a sales rep.  In the end, we
went through the process like any other group would, and we pay the standard
price.  We were not afforded any luxuries nor were any corners cut due to or
in spite of our relationship with Google.

Are there concerns about Google's privacy practices? It doesn't seem
> particularly wise to hand them all of your e-mail, especially if they
> possibly have a business interest.
The EULA for Google Apps [3] is slightly different than the normal one.  We
continue to own our data and Google doesn't. [4] We have had the EULA
reviewed by legal counsel, as well as our in-house tech staff, and received
the opinion that the privacy provisions were strong enough to meet our

> Any clarifications on this would be great!
> MZMcBride
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Apps
I hope this helps to answer some of the questions about Google Apps
specifically.   I'm sorry for the slow reply, but you caught me at the end
of the day yesterday.

Thank you-

[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_contractors
[2] http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/customers.html
[3] http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/terms/user_terms.html
[4] http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762

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