The CS Lab offers cloud-based services for department email, calendaring, communication and collaboration tools - powered by both Microsoft Office365 and Google Apps Education Edition.

You may already use consumer versions of these popular tools ( or Gmail/Google Docs)... what we offer is a version of these services that is linked to your CSE identity, and with the key difference being that the UW has entered into contracts with each of these companies to provide these tools for use with your UW email and documents - totally distinct from personal email, documents, or calendars you might now be using. For you, this means you'll be able to read your CSE email, and create CSE-related documents and presentations in the Microsoft and/or Google clouds and easily share them and collaborate with others in the department, and beyond..

Cloud Services


By using Microsoft- or Google-powered email, your email (Inbox and mail folders) will be held in Microsoft or Google data centers, not on departmental servers. You will be able to access email through a web browser, or you can use a regular email client, such as Outlook or Thunderbird, or a smart phone. (You can still have personal accounts with these providers – Gmail/Google Accounts and Office365 – of course, and you will be able to view personal and work calendars from both accounts, for instance. To be clear: those personal accounts would be separate and distinct from your CSE-branded services, even though they are with the same providers.)

The web interface for the Office365 email is very similar to Outlook, and the interface for Google Apps uses the Gmail-style interface.

You are able to select which of these providers to use for email. Based on your selection, all of your @cs email is routed through department mail routers to that provider.


Calendar tools are available from both providers, and your calendar can be selectively shared with others who subscribe to the same provider. Unfortunately calendar interoperability between the two providers is still problematic – and is a bigger problem, still being hashed out in the engineering community.

Office "Productivity" and Collaboration Tools

In addition to email and calendaring, cloud providers typically offer the ability to create, edit and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations - all through a web browser, or by using local apps and cloud-based storage. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of using cloud-based services is the ability to easily share documents and collaborate with others. In some cases, these services even offer live co-editing, where several people can simultaneously edit a single document, and everybody can see the changes that others are making to the document.

You will be able to utilize either or both of these providers for these collaboration tools – no matter which provider you select for handling email.

Other Services

Other services available include instant messaging, storage, web pages, photos, and so on. For a more detailed list of services available from each provider, check here.

Important Details

Security and Privacy

Two of the biggest concerns that people have when it comes to cloud computing are security and privacy. We use on-campus authentication (CSE NetID) for accessing these external cloud-based services, where it is feasible. What that means is that when you access any of these cloud-based services, you will be logging in with your CSE NetID and password to a CSE authentication server, and then your session is redirected back to the external service with a special "token" that indicates that you have been successfully authenticated. Your CSE NetID password is held on campus, in encrypted form, is transmitted via your browser over a secure, encrypted connection, and is never shared with the cloud service provider.

We care deeply about privacy. Electronic data used and stored by UW employees are covered by many federal and state laws and regulations, and by state and UW policies. These laws include FERPA (protects privacy of educational records), HIPAA (protects health records), Breach Notification (protects financial and identity-related information), Federal Export Controls, and others. Please refer to the University's Data Security Standards for a deeper description of relevant data security standards (including the three categories: "confidential", "restricted", and "public"), and to the UW Security Standards and Policies webpage a full description of UW policies surrounding data security, and your responsibilities related to those policies.

Basically, all the same rules of use apply, whether the UW records are stored on-campus or off-campus. Or at your home, or on a thumb-drive! The rules follow the data, whereever you may store them!

Intellectual Property - Who Owns the Data?

Where UW has contracted for employee use of cloud services (currently: Microsoft & Google), the data you store in their cloud service is, in general, owned by UW, and not by the provider. In general, the provider considers all the UW data that you store on their servers to be UW-confidential information, and will not disclose it to anybody, except as required by law. (There is one exception to that rule - described below.)

The UW Intellectual Property Policy applies to data stored in UW-approved cloud services.

The exception to the statement about UW-confidential information is this: in the Microsoft Office365 service, only the Outlook (email) service is considered to be a UW-confidential service; all of the other services (aka "Consumer Services") – such as SkyDrive, Spaces, etc. – are covered by a Terms of Use contract and a privacy policy (or similar) that are between you and Microsoft. UW employees who use these Microsoft Consumer Services with their UW access credentials must agree to allow UW personnel access to anything stored in those services.

Appropriate Use

  • Usual rules apply. Using external (cloud-based) email service doesn't change anything about the University appropriate use policies. In all cases – whether you use internal UW-servers, or external cloud-based services – you are responsible for complying with official UW polices, standards and guidelines regarding electronic records.
  • Forbidden Uses: There are two types of data for which cloud-based services cannot be used: "protected" health care (HIPAA-protected), and export-controlled (cannot be transferred outside the country).
  • Private email services. There may be some confusion about forwarding your UW CSE email to a private email address with an external provider. For faculty, staff, and TAs and RAs (any employee), this is a problem – you should not do it. However, a "sanctioned" cloud service – where UW has an appropriate contract with the provider – is an acceptable location for FERPA-protected records.

Be sure to read the Cloud Appropriate Use page for Terms of Use and more details.


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