How Migrating to Google Apps Broke My Google

by Dave Michels

This past year I had it pretty good in terms of calendar management. In fact, better than ever, certainly better than today.

The salient technology point of this post is: The boundaries of work and personal are extremely blurred these days. Now more than ever, we are getting more work done outside the office and outside normal office hours, pausing at times during the day for family or personal needs.Technologies such as web capabilities, VoIP, and mobility make this possible. But our support tools need to follow suit.

From a calendaring perspective I HAD this nailed.

I kept my calendar on Exchange/Outlook. I think a large part of Exchange/Outlook’s market success has been around its workgroup calendar capabilities. I can manage permissions of who can view and/or change my calendar, and the solution played well with all the various PDAs and phones I’ve had over the past 10 years. But one shortfall was giving access to friends and family was always tricky.

This past year my family members all migrated to Gmail (and its associated calendar). I also use Gmail for non corporate stuff. Google released a synchronization product that enabled me to sync Outlook with my Gmail calendar. This was the best it could get – one calendar, two environments. Each with controlled visibility. I could accept appointments in either environment and even check my “Outlook” calendar from any web source. My cell phone synchronized with Exchange and everything worked. My wife even had access to my calendar from her cell phone.

While on vacatoin, work said goodbye to Exchange and Hello to Google Apps. On the surface, one might think my integration capabilities would be even better between Google environments. Ha!

It turns out there is no sync capability between Google calendars. You can share calendars, but this is very different. Just as I need one calendar view (which can be created with shares), other people at work and at home need a single view too which isn’t so simple with shared calendars. I can sync my phone with either Google calendar, but not both. It doesn’t make sense to give every colleague free/busy views to both calendars just so they can pick a meeting time.

I am stuck. I thought I could abort my Gmail calendar and just work Apps calendar, but that complicates emailed invites from people with my Google address.

Why blog about this? Partly to vent, partly in hopes someone has an idea, and partly as a warning; the migration from Exchange to Apps has a few surprises.