NextGen Michigan

The Selection Process: Google or Microsoft @

Download IT Steering Committee Collaboration Suite Recommendation (285KB PDF)

Google Tools Deployment

Project director Bill Wrobleski discusses the history and background behind the U-M Google Collaboration project including:

  • the important role that feedback from students, faculty, and staff played in the selection process,
  • determining project scope and user needs,
  • preliminary timing and implementation plans,
  • and the benefits that an integrated suite of collaboration tools will bring the U-M community.

U-M feedback on Google tools and timetable of implementation

U-M feedback to deploying Google collaborative tools

Recorded April, 2011

The Role of IT Governance

The IT Council, the faculty-led governance body established in 2010 to set campus-wide priorities for IT services, resources, and facilities, has endorsed moving forward to identify a new generation of collaborative tools to better serve U-M's teaching, learning, global engagement, and scholarly activities. These tools are viewed as part of enhancing the IT environment to better enable sophisticated and powerful collaboration — in the classroom, lab, office, research project, or at the inter-institutional level — through readily available, seamless, compatible, and connected systems. At the direction of the IT Council, the Unit IT Steering Committee developed a final report and recommendation on the future campus collaboration platform based on its own research and investigation and considerable input from the campus community.

In December 2010 the IT Council unanimously endorsed the recommendation of Google as the university's provider for a suite of collaborative tools. The U-M IT Executive Committee considered and approved the recommendation in January 2011.

Criteria for Selection of Collaboration Tool Provider

The university based its selection on which partner could provide a broad-based, flexible, and widely accessible collaborative environment with a robust suite of tools that could best meet most needs for the majority of users.

The Unit IT Steering Committee established the following criteria for potential collaboration tool service providers:

  • Existing strong U-M partnership
  • Overwhelming percentage of the market share including high usage by many of our higher education peers
  • Pervasive tools mean that many other vendors have complementary and compatible products
  • Maturity of the existing offerings
  • Ability to act as service provider (cloud offerings) as well as a product provider
  • Substantial resources committed to investments in ongoing development
  • High number of U-M faculty, staff and students that already use various components of one or both of these suites

In a memo to the IT Commons, Lynn Johnson, Unit IT Steering Committee Chair, described the process employed by the Steering Committee to identify Google and Microsoft as the vendors to invite to do on-campus presentations as well as the next steps following the presentations.

On-Campus Presentations

U-M invited Microsoft and Google in September and October 2010 to conduct demonstrations of their online collaboration tools and to provide IT and technical staff to look at the company offerings from a systems administration vantage point.

Each presentation included overviews of the online collaboration tool suites, information on how the tools could enhance collaboration at U-M, and an opportunity to ask questions. Video recordings of both the general and technical sessions, as well as a more specific topic listing of the presentations are available.


Immediately after the conclusion of the October 2010 Google and Microsoft vendor presentations, a survey was emailed to the entire campus community seeking input from students, faculty, researchers, and staff. The survey results showed that on most measures, Google was the preferred provider among faculty, students, and staff.