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Introduction & Background

For along time now the IT Team and many staff members and volunteers from around the World have been looking for better ways of providing information to AFS stakeholders. This has always been a difficult and demanding proposition, which by its very nature required inherently complex solutions that were not feasible for AFS. However, with advances in communication and collaborative technologies over the past 10 years, we now believe that we are at a place where AFS can easily utilize modern advances in information sharing and collaboration to empower all stakeholders.

Current Realities

At present the AFS network relies on Lotus Notes to handle most of its communication and information. Here at the IT Team we have been fans of Lotus Notes for a long time due to its power, commercial support, distributed infrastructure model and comparatively low price. However as communication technologies move forward, these same benefits are increasingly becoming drawbacks, making it almost impossible for us to share information in an effective way outside of the staff and a small group of key volunteers (usually board members).

Because of these problems, with the help of the IT Strategy Group and staff members from around the network, the IT Team has looked at many other options, such as:
  • The potential of opening up Lotus Notes where possible and implementing new IBM tools which tie into its infrastructure
  • The Zimbra collaborative suit
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Google Apps for businesses
After research and discussion on all of these possibilities, the IT Strategy Group voted to run a small pilot project with a few partners migrating the from Lotus Notes to Google Apps.



The Management Council's Mandate on the Co-existence of Lotus Notes an Google Apps

Thanks to the success of this pilot project and a high demand from AFS partners, the Management Council voted that the two systems (Lotus Notes and Google Apps) should co-exist for the foreseeable future, allowing partners to opt into the new Google Apps system at their own discretion.

The Management Council also mandated that the information contained within Lotus Notes Databases should be migrated to new locations with promote access and collaboration, such as the up and coming AFS World Cafe or Google Sites within Google Apps.

The Current Migration Numbers

As of the beginning of March 2010, 12 partners have migrated to Google Apps, with another 7 having expressed an interest in migrating very quickly to the new system. This means that we currently have approximately 250 active accounts and the IT Team is expecting this number to rise quickly.
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