The nuts and bolts of Macquarie University’s Gmail deal to manage staff email

The agreement is significant to Google as it has spent more than two years trying to court the university to adopt Gmail for staff members. But the university was hesitant to move staff members on to Gmail due to regulatory and cost factors.

They were concerned that their email messages would be subject to draconian US law.

In particular, they were worried about protecting their intellectual property under the Patriot Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Mr Bailey said.

“In the end, Google agreed to store that data under EU jurisdiction, which we accepted,” he said.

The university had to comply with state laws, which mandated that data had to be stored in NSW.

Google was not going to build a local data centre anytime soon so Macquarie had to maintain an offline archive of data at the university, he said. In the past, Macquarie was concerned about the cost of relaying large files to and from the US, where Google’s data centre resides. But this been resolved thanks to the Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARnet), which the university is a member of. “AARNet peered with Google (and Microsoft) which means it won’t cost us anything more,” Mr Bailey said.

A $2 million limited liability was increased to $10m in case Gmail stopped working. “You need proper recourse if your free email service stops working.”

Its important to note how Macquarie Uni resolved their concerns about moving staff mailboxes to Gmail… a combination of getting their off shored data managed under a more friendly jurisdiction, creating their own archive to comply with local law, data peering and risk management through increased financial liability provisions. A good checklist for other large Australian organisations that want to go down the same path?


2 thoughts on “The nuts and bolts of Macquarie University’s Gmail deal to manage staff email

  1. A few years ago, TAFE migrated from exchange to gmail for their students and staff. I wonder if they encountered similar problems.

  2. I don’t know… perceptions of risk vary between organisations and universities take IP issues quite seriously, as they will commercialise research ideas, so that might be an important difference in this case (and relevant to other commercial organisations).

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