Going Google Part 2

So my last post about “going Google” was about migrating mail via IMAP from your “local” Exchange 2007 server to Google’s behemoth server farm (Google Mail) I may have failed to mention that option is only available for those running Google Apps Premiere (paid version) or Google Apps for Education (free but only for schools) So there, you are warned. OK now on to this post. I wanted to go full circle and see if it is possible to get the full Outlook experience using Google mail (syncing mail, contacts, and calendar AND get the Google GAL to show up in Outlook) Well, as it turns out it is pretty workable, but not as simple as it could be. You need two tools: on called Google Apps Sync and the other is the GAL generator. You may also find help on this page of Google’s help site. The purpose of the Google Apps Sync is twofold: first it will take all your “stuff” from Outlook and migrate it to Google’s mail servers and second it will then make Outlook your mail client, reading Google’s mail, contacts and calendars. Well in my case I had already done a full migration of my mail FROM Exchange and TO Google mail so I simply set up a new mail profile (I am using Windows 7) so that there would not be any confusion about uploading my email for the second time, etc. So I set up my new mail profile and ran Google Apps Sync and it cranked away and downloaded all 1.3 GB of my mail, contacts and calendars. It defaults to allowing up to 1 GB to be synced but you can up that to 2, 4, or unlimited syncing.

OK, so now the tough part. In order to get your Google global address list (GAL) to show up in Outlook you have to follow several steps, including editing the registry! Why this is not simpler is beyond me, but oh well I was determined to try it. I followed those directions from the link above and things seemed to work fine.

Basically you:
1. Download Google’s GAL generator.
2. Move it to the same directory as the Google Apps Sync program.
3. Run it. It generates a local GAL (static snapshot of your Google GAL)
4. Edit the registry (you have to make a new key that tells Google Apps Sync where to find the GAL you just downloaded)

One thing to note is that I did not create the network share or deploy this solution via MSI file, edit GPOs, etc. Obviously if you are going to roll this out in an large Windows environment you’d want to do all this and I cannot see why it would not work. The only trouble is that this Google GAL generator just generates a snapshot of your GAL so when you add a new user on Google Apps you have to run that again and copy the resulting file to the network share, etc. Might be more work than it is worth unless your people are totally tied to Outlook. There you go, my $.02 about Google Apps Sync for Outlook and the GAL generator.

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