Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Conflicting Google and Google Apps accounts

This article is about resolving conflicting Google and Google-Apps accounts:  an issue that is is going to start for people who set up a blog using an email address that is being moved to Google Apps.

Google accounts vs Google Apps accounts

GoogleappsPreviously, I've described Google accounts and Google-apps accounts.

As at October 2010 the two types of account were not the same, even though they looked similar. Therefore it was easy for one person to have :
  • A Google account called Joe.Bloggs@AnyCompany.com (because that's just any old email address)
  • A Google Apps account also called Joe.Bloggs@AnyCompany.com
The Google Apps account can only been set up when a new custom-domain was registered or purchased for AnyCompany.com  - or when the existing AnyCompany.com domain moves to Google Apps.

Joe should know about the Google account (assuming he's still actively using it).   But if he isn't aware of all the things being done in the IT department of AnyCompany, he might not even know that the Google Apps account was created when the IT manager was quietly testing options for a move to Google Apps.


Merging Google and Google Apps

In recent months the number of programs included in Google Apps has grown massively.

But to include the "older" tools like Blogger, Picasa-web-albums etc, they had to move to a new infrastructure.  To do this, they needed to fix up situations like the one described above, where there are two different accounts called Joe.Bloggs@AnyCompany.com

The work to enable this has been done.  Organisations that use Google apps have been moved to a new infrastructure, which needs the apparently duplicate accounts to have been fixed.  

So, when this happens for AnyCompany, cleaning up the conflicting Joe.Bloggs@AnyCompany.com accounts needs to be done.  

Google decided (I believe wisely - more about that later) that the two accounts will not be merged:  they aren't, and never will be, the same account.

Google have written about the conflicting accounts issue.  They say that the first time that Joe Bloggs logs into Blogger (or Gmail, or various other Google tools outside of Apps) after AnyCompany has moved to the new infrastructure, he willl be shown a special screen where he must rename the Google account.

[Even though Google' account transition process is now complete, it's likely that Blogger users will continue to see this request as the log into to infrequently used Blogger accounts in the future.   This is why I have updated this article now (June 2011), rather than deleted it.]

What to rename the Google account to

It looks like you can rename the existing Google account to any other text string that looks like an email address - and of course isn't already taken.   (Again, I haven't tested this yet, but it would be consistent with how Blogger works now).

Personally, I suggest renaming it to some other real email address that you control - ideally a new address that is just for the purpose. 

I don't think it will be possible to rename it to a gmail address, since creating the gmail address will create a Google Account, but in this case the Google account already exists.

Scenario 1: Google account relates to the company

If the blog(s) etc owned by the original Google account are related to AnyCompany, then one option is to rename it to Joe.bloggs2@AnyCompany.com.   This will work, provided there's not already an account with the same name.   But it may create issues (for the companies domain administrator) if another person called Joe Bloggs comes to work for AnyCompany in the future.

In general, if the Google account relates to company business, it would be a good idea to consult with the IT department to see how it shoudl be treated.   It's often a good idea to use a generic account name (eg blog.Editor@AnyCompany), and to simply hand on the details for this account when you leave the organisation.  That way, at very least the administrators of the domain will be able to get access to them because they'll control  the email address that matches the Google-account name.

Scenario 2: Google account not related to the company

If the blog(s) etc owned by the Google account are personal, or related to something other than AnyCompany (which could be AnySchool or AnyNonProfit, etc), then I would strongly recommend that the account is renamed to some valid address which is outside the control of AnyCompany, for example Joe.Bloggs@yahoo.com

You need to make sure you keep control of and access to the email address, so that you will continue to have access to the Google account even after you've left the company (or school, etc).

Aside:  this is why I think it's a wise decison not just to merge the Google and Google-Apps accounts:  there is far too much chance that people will have used their work (or college etc) email address to set up a Google account that has nothing to do with work etc.

Combining the Google and Google-Apps accounts

Currently, Google don't provide any tools (that I know of) to let you combine accounts.  

Some Google-products (eg Feedburner) have tools to let you transfer ownership of items in them to another Google account.  But some products don't have any features like this.

Blogger lets you transfer blog ownership by giving another account administrator access and then removing yourself.  But unless you are certain that you can successfully transfer all the items in the blog (remember, Picasa-web-albums currently has no way to transfer album ownership, ditto videos, calendars, etc) you still need the original Google account to exist.   (You might choose to log into it with gmail and set message-forwarding and then never use it again.  That's fine ... just so long as you don't delete it.)

Related Articles

Understanding Google accounts

Understand google-apps accounts

Transferring blog ownership

Setting up your custom domain

Auto-renewing your blog's custom domain

Amazon Associates and Blogger

Linking Blogs and Websites.

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