Monday 24 October 2011

Transferring to Google Apps

As some of you know, I've been helping a charity that runs a camp for disabled children, Heswall Disabled Children's Holiday Fund, for nearly 15 years - an organisation that has been very close to my heart ever since - and not least because it was there that I met Clare, who eventually became Mrs Potes in July 2006.

One of the things I do for the charity is do the best I can creating and maintaining their presence on the internet - and I'm no web designer, I can tell you. Until recently, I was using hosting space with my very own hand-crafted HTML - it wasn't bad, but it wasn't that great either, and because of the hosting it was costing money. So in the interest of saving the charity a bit of cash, I started considering the options for replacement.

The domain I use for this blog is hosted using Google Apps, which I've been using for many years now, so that seemed the obvious choice. The maturity of Google Sites (which was added a couple of years ago) meant that I could create the site in a much more WYSIWYG way, and importing the content from the old site took half an hour while I ate my sandwich in front of my computer at work one lunchtime. To complete the migration, I reverted the DNS settings for the HDCHF domain, and added the required CNAME entry for the "www" subdomain, and MX records for email, both of which Google provides you instructions for, and away we went. I'm no DNS expert, but it seems CNAME entries can be used to create domain redirections, and provided the server that they redirect to can interpret the path part of the URL, you can use them in just the same way as URLs referencing subdomains declared using A records (where the hosting server is contacted directly).

As Google Apps basically gives you (almost) all of Google's products wrapped up with a bit of enterprise-y management stuff, and so we've also got the usual range of calendars, docs, gmail, and so on - whether I can convince the other committee members (whose ranks I have just joined) to use them will remain to be seen.

The only downside is that as a UK Charity we do not qualify for the not-for-profits version of Google Apps (boo, hiss!!), so we're restricted to just 10 organisation users - everyone else will have to use their normal email address, enabled for Google use - I hope this won't stop them using the private wiki site, also transferred to Google Sites.

1 comment:

  1. Update: UK Charities are now also able to use Google's not-for-profits edition of Google Apps - thanks Google!