Kenny's Blog

12 Sep 2014

Google Groups in Google Apps

The University of Hawaii System switched to Google Apps a few years ago in order to upgrade it’s ageing email system and save some money having to not maintain it’s own email infrastructure. Like a good system administrator, UH Information Technology Services (ITS) disabled public google groups for the hawaii.edu domain.

Unfortunately, if hawaii.edu domain users navigate to google.com/groups in an attempt to create a google group, they’ll see the following message:

Access to public Google Groups has been restricted by your domain admin.

So yes, it looks like UH ITS has disabled Google Groups. One would assume then, that Google Groups is disabled completely for your domain, and that you’re unable to use your hawaii.edu domain with anything having to do with Google Groups. Most people make this assumption and just ask their users to create public Gmail accounts to use with a public Google Group.

But apparently, you can access the hawaii.edu flavor of Google Groups. To access this, you have to either click on the groups button in your application drawer in your email account or go to groups.google.com/a/hawaii.edu (similar to gmail.hawaii.edu redirecting to mail.google.com/a/hawaii.edu).
So it makes sense - the two spaces are separated, and hawaii.edu users are restricted in the public space (I had issues adding hawaii.edu users to a public Google Group previously). I had incorrectly assumed that Google Groups was completely turned off for the hawaii.edu domain by our administrator.

Since the migration to Google Apps, I’ve never actually encountered a domain specific Google Group user (an email in the form of GROUPNAME-grp@hawaii.edu). We can assume that most users got to the same page, and assumed that @hawaii.edu domains could not be used with Google Groups at all. This probably holds true for most other organizations with a Google Apps infrastructure, so if you’re in such an organization, navigate to groups.google.com/a/domain.com/ to access your domain’s Google Groups page.