Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Google Apps Passwords - What Happened??

Recently everyone experienced the pain of their passwords being reset in Google Apps. I know this caused a lot of confusion, frustration, and inconvenience. I want to use this blog post to apologize to everyone for the inconvenience and to explain what happened. First lets cover a few basic terms that will help with the explanation.

The cloud - By now everyone has heard this term, but many aren't sure what it means. The easiest way to explain the cloud is that it's rows of computers sitting in a warehouse, running software, and storing information for people. If you have a smart phone, most of your apps function by reaching into the cloud to leverage these computers.

Integration -  Integration, in this context, is the ability of two pieces of software (aka systems) to talk to each other. Integrations can be fairly simple, like Facebook login options for websites, or much more complex involving many moving pieces.

Part of the strategy as we move to self management is to make our systems as efficient as possible. We are working to make the systems seamless, so a person can be hired and the data will cascade through many systems (via integrations) and create all of the necessary accounts for that individual. Those same integrations will also keep passwords synchronized.

Almost all of the software we use is hosted in the cloud (Blackboard, EE Highlight, Google Apps, etc). These companies can provide outstanding service for a fraction of the cost we would incur doing this "in house". One of our key partners is Global Data Consultants (GDC); they host key parts of our systems that keep passwords in sync. We were setting up accounts in Google Apps and on GDC's systems. The Google Apps accounts were created first and we proceeded with communicating this to school staff. We were racing the clock since school ends this week. As GDC created the accounts on their end, the passwords synchronized as we would normally want. Unfortunately it sync'd a different password for everyone's accounts, including those of us in the Technology Department. We worked very quickly to put everyone's password back.

This was an initial setup issue, and will not be an ongoing problem. When you image your computer this summer and select a password, that password will sync through all of the systems (Google Apps included).

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