GAA passes the ball to Google Apps

4 Mar 2010

The Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) has rolled out Google’s Gmail service to 100pc of club secretaries – some 6,000 people – it has emerged.

The organisation had signed a deal with Baker Security & Networks to implement Google Apps Gmail and in any given 24-hour period up to 2,000 club secretaries will log into their Gmail accounts.

“The GAA is a volunteer-led organisation and as such it has a major responsibility to communicate with all its stakeholders every day on all aspects of the Association’s business,” explained Nickey Brennan, former GAA President and currently head of its IT & Communications Committee.

“The switch to the new email system went very smoothly and is testament to Google Apps’ ease of use,” said Brennan.

The GAA previously had an in-house mail server for its officials but the system could no longer handle the workload.

The association was interested in using a cloud-computing platform, where the service would be delivered over the internet instead of an in-house hosted service.

Following a competitive tender, the association chose Google’s Gmail service, to be implemented by Baker Security & Networks, a Google Apps partner.

“Using Gmail would reduce support costs considerably, plus the GAA would have no administration in terms of servers and no data-centre costs, so it seemed to make sense to go with that cloud-computing model,” said Robert Baker, founder and managing director of Baker Security & Networks.

“Globally, GMail had amassed more than 100 million users by then, so clearly scale was not going to be an issue,” Baker added.

Reduced communications cost

The move to Google Apps Gmail has been a major factor in helping the Association to reduce its communications costs.

To help users with the migration, Baker’s team created a series of brief video presentations hosted on YouTube. These clips, lasting between 30 seconds and two minutes long, use screen captures and voiceovers to demonstrate how to send emails.

In the future, the GAA plans to implement other aspects of Google Apps for its members, including features such as document sharing, Calendar, Google Sites, Google Maps and YouTube.

All of these services will be available to GAA members over the internet, avoiding the costs of each club having to do it themselves, and saving them from repeating the same process thousands of times.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years