Google and Microsoft Service Changes at Virginia Tech
Information about upcoming changes to Microsoft and Google storage and services, email, and calendaring at Virginia Tech.
Upcoming changes to storage, email, and calendar services
In 2021, Google announced an end to its long-standing policy of offering no-cost, unlimited storage to higher education institutions, including Virginia Tech. Google will begin enforcing a storage volume-based subscription model at Virginia Tech on July 1, 2024.
On August 1, 2023, Microsoft announced a significant change to its licensing model for higher education as well. This change included a dramatic increase in the cost of storage on their Microsoft 365 (M365) platform. The Microsoft changes will go into effect in July 2025.
The university was already preparing for the Google changes, but the information from Microsoft made it necessary to change course on some elements of the service decision on Google services, as well as to announce future limitations on centrally funded storage in the M365 environment. The era of 'low-cost' or 'no-cost' online file storage is ending, and all members of the university community must take steps to find the right balance between storage of files and acceptable costs.
The elements of the new service decision are outlined within this page. The User Information pages provide additional details by audience: there are pages for students, employees, departments, alumni, and retirees. You can also find resources and support as well as frequently-asked questions (FAQs) to guide you through these transitions.
While these changes are going to present challenges for all of us, the simple fact is that online storage carries costs that can no longer be avoided. All universities that use Google and Microsoft platforms are facing the same challenge, and the best way to address this is to stay informed and be proactive with cleaning up or moving stored files. There are steps you can take to prepare, and some time to make the changes needed.
On the Google side, the following changes will be implemented on a staggered basis between October 2023 and June 2024, following a schedule that will be posted soon. This means that some may see changes as early as October 2023. The user information pages provide additional details pertaining to each group.
Changes on the Microsoft side will begin to be implemented in 2024; details to come.
The move to Exchange Online as the single solution for email and calendaring will continue for employees, students, and new retirees.
- Migration services will be provided for those currently using Gmail. Check user information pages for mailbox size limits and additional information.
Alumni email will stay in Gmail, and alums will also retain their @vt.edu email addresses.
- These email-only accounts will be limited to 5 GB. Address will no longer change to @alumni.vt.edu.
Google file storage will be limited for some groups, and discontinued for others
- Students, employees, and retired employees with a separation date on or prior to June 1, 2023 will keep some amount of Google storage (check user information pages for precise information)
- Alumni access to Google file storage will be discontinued
University-provided M365 storage allotments will be limited prior the start of the new contract with Microsoft
- The M365 environment will be available to students, employees, and employees retiring after June 1, 2023. Complete details for each group are available in the user information pages.
Departmental allotments and responsibilities
- Departments will receive additional allotments of storage in both Google and Microsoft environments (beginning on July 1, 2024 and July 1, 2025, respectively), based on the number of employees in the department. This storage can be used to support shared drives, SharePoint Online sites, Teams, or to increase individual employee storage.
- Departments will be able to purchase additional storage on both platforms in 10 TB increments. Storage subscriptions renew on a yearly basis.
- Departments will control the allocation of their storage, as well as the creation of new shared drives, SharePoint and Teams sites.
Google Photos will be discontinued at Virginia Tech.
- All users should take steps now to empty their Google Photos app.
Alumni and new retirees (retiring June 2, 2023 or after) will no longer have access to Google services through Virginia Tech.
- Users in these groups should take steps now to clean up their Google storage, and then to move the files they wish to keep into another storage solution.
Shared drives, SharePoint sites, and Teams sites will be issued only to employees; department approval is required.
- Use Departmental Google Workspace Shared Drive (vt.edu) for requesting a shared drive.
- A form will be available soon for SharePoint and Teams site requests.
- Existing student-created Google shared drives, Sharepoint and Teams sites must either be claimed by a department or phased out.
- Students may still participate on these sites by invitation from a site owner.
Email migration and storage changes will be implemented in phases, beginning in October 2023. This work will proceed according to a schedule (to be posted soon) and will not be conducted for all groups at the same time.
That said, there is a lot you can do to prepare, starting now:
- Check your current Google or Microsoft storage and consider future needs.
- Clean up your data by deleting files, email, photos, etc. that you no longer need. Doing this will help your data exports to be easier to accomplish, and will leave more room in your future quotas.
- Empty your VT Google Photos app by moving all photos, video, etc. to a new location.
We have also created guides with specific changes for each user group and tips on how to prepare:
Please note, as previously stated, the complete schedule for all changes is being finalized now, and more details will be added to this site as they are available.
We know that this will be a major change for many of you. Currently, 59 percent of employees and 99 percent of students use Google services at Virginia Tech. However, it is also true that 75 percent of employees and 86 percent of students are using less than 5 GB of Google storage today.
Some departments may decide to purchase additional storage to maintain their current level of use, to relocate their data to another approved service, or to take a combined approach. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we begin these significant changes together as a community.
Support will be available to assist the Virginia Tech community with needs for storage reduction, data transfer, and email migration. Many guides and how-to articles are already available through the 4Help Knowledge Base.
Students and employees also have free access to training videos for Microsoft 365 tools through Virginia Tech's LinkedIn Learning library.
Additional resources will be posted to this website as they become available.
With the cost increases announced by Google and Microsoft, the university needs to change the way we think about and administer our online storage. We already pay significant base costs for these collaboration platforms, and continuing to allow unfettered accumulation of files will result in exhorbitant additional costs every year. While both collaboration platforms have become a critical part of the university's IT infrastructure, and enable the achievement of Virginia Tech's mission, they also need to be managed in a fiscally responsible fashion, especially now that our costs will be increasing so significantly.
The Microsoft announcement also caused the university to re-evaluate its approach to email administration. In April, we had announced a plan to move to one platform (Exchange Online). Consolidating employees, students, and new retirees' email on the Microsoft Exchange Online platform will provide a unified user experience, simplify scheduling, provide significant security benefits, and reduce our storage footprint in Google Workspace. However, given the cost structure recently announced by Microsoft, we have reconsidered the move to Exchange Online for Alumni. Maintaining alumni email accounts in Google, and allowing alumni to keep their @vt.edu email addresses will simplify the work that alumni need to do to pare down their email accounts and migrate all their files out of Google storage.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we are providing the right balance of services to meet the needs of the Virginia Tech community. These decisions were not made lightly, and we recognize that they will create some challenges and adjustment for everyone. We are committed to answering questions and supporting everyone through these changes.
For answers to common questions regarding these changes, please see our frequently asked questions.
For more information on Virginia Tech's Google and Microsoft service changes, and how they might impact you, please visit our user information pages, or the FAQs.
General ItemGet a head start on Google storage cleanup Date: Aug 30, 2023
General ItemFor employees: Tips to start your online storage cleanup Date: Aug 30, 2023
General ItemNew information adjusts university’s planned course on email, online storage Date: Aug 04, 2023
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Last updated 8/01/2023.