Orchestrating an Institution-Wide
Transition to Google Calendar
Steve Lewis & Stacey Kimmel-Smith
SIGUCCS 2011 Support Conference
Lehigh University utilized Oracle Calendar since
Advanced customer expectations, rising licensing
costs, and ever-increasing trouble reports led to an
investigation of alternative calendaring products.
Google Calendar was selected as the replacement
calendaring system.
This is our story…
About Lehigh University
• Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
– 90 minutes from New York City
• 6,900 students
– 4,700 undergraduates
– 2,200 graduate students
• 660 faculty members
• 1,000 support staff
Library and technology support
services integrated into one unit:
Library & Technology Services (LTS)
Brief History of Electronic
Calendaring at Lehigh
Faculty and staff testing of Netscape Calendar begins
Nearly 350 trial users
Problem: Test server crashed, some data lost.
Bigger problem: Trial users were using it with
production-level expectations!
Solution: Host on new server and subscribe to support.
Another problem: Netscape lost the license to its
underlying calendaring technology!
Solution: License the software, known as Corporate Time,
directly from Corporate Software & Technologies (CST) after
considering alternative packages.
Brief History of Electronic
Calendaring at Lehigh
CST merges with Lexacom forming Steltor. 500 users at this time.
Oracle buys Steltor and renames product Oracle Calendar.
life is reasonably good for several years…
Oracle prepares to discontinue Oracle Calendar in favor of their
new Oracle Beehive collaboration suite.
Problem: Expensive to license and difficult to host / administer.
About Oracle Calendar
• Desktop client
• On-campus server
• Web-based client had
very limited subset of
• One calendar per user
• Room / resource
calendars available
PDAs and Smartphones
• Palm devices used as early as 1997
– Serial / USB sync to Oracle Calendar plugin
to Palm Desktop
• Palm Treo smartphone appears in 2003
– People like mobile e-mail.
– Still no over-the-air (OTA) calendar sync
since 2G connection was too slow and often
– Remained Lehigh’s recommended
smartphone through 2008.
3G Comes Along…
• BlackBerry Bold 9000
released as AT&T’s first 3G
smartphone in 2008.
– OTA calendar synchronization
becomes reality using Nexthaus
• About a year later, Synthesis
AG’s ToDo+Cal+Sync for
iPhone available.
– Allowed iPhone to OTA sync
Limitations of Oracle Calendar
(learned over a decade)
• Cost
– Partially subsidized by LTS, a per-user fee paid for
each license issued.
– License reuse not possible since deleting users
deleted shared meeting data.
– Well-funded departments could afford this while
others could not. Fragmentation of the user base
resulted; no common campus calendaring platform.
Not used by students.
Limitations of Oracle Calendar
(learned over a decade)
• PDA / Smartphone synchronization
– Often failed, resulted in duplicated or missing calendars.
• Customer expectations
– Users not content with just one calendar
– Web interface limitations unacceptable
Initial testing of Google Calendar
• Google Apps instance created in 2007
• LTS Client Services staff transitioned in 2008
• Athletics Department transitioned in 2009
– Very willing to participate since they had budget limitations
allowing only a subset of their staff to use Oracle Calendar
• Feedback was positive and LTS became very
confident that Google Calendar was a suitable
replacement for Oracle Calendar.
Our Marketing Points
• Oracle Calendar
Not fully web-based
Fraught with PDA synchronization problems
Closed system which did not allow interaction with others
• Google Calendar
Fully web-based
Free of licensing costs
More features
Open system capable of interacting with anyone in the world
Departmental Transitions
• Departments transitioned one at a time over a
six-month period.
• Per-user transition process
Export data from Oracle Calendar
Cleanse data*
Import into Google Calendar
Set permissions
Reconfigure PDAs
Setup user backup*
Cleansing Oracle Calendar Data
• A straight export from Oracle Calendar to
Google Calendar works for most events.
• Repeating events, however, would not correctly
synchronize to iOS devices.
• Solution - Strip the following fields out of the
exported data before importing to Google:
Backing up Google Calendar
• Google backs up data for their own purposes.
– Their backups are not accessible to customers /
• Customers may accidently delete data or
experience destructive failure of a PDA
synchronization session.
• Daily job on LTS server accesses Private URL
and saves ICS data. Keeps working daily unless
user explicitly resets Private URL.
Backing up Google Calendar
Client Training
• Multiple training venues
– Self-paced guides
– Classroom led instruction
– Deskside overviews
• Let’s hear from Stacey Kimmel-Smith…

PowerPoint - Lehigh University