Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Joe Kraus, the Chief Information Officer of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993 as a result of legislation unanimously passed by the U.S. Congress. The Museum’s employees went live with Google Apps for Government this Tuesday.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by the generosity of donors nationwide.

To fulfill this mission, the Museum employs technologies that promote online collaboration for its teaching programs and uses crowdsourcing to expand and make more accessible its collections relating to Holocaust survivors and victims. Our migration to Google Apps will enable closer collaboration with teachers, universities and institutions that are engaged in teaching the lessons of the Holocaust, preventing genocide and conducting research on Holocaust history.

This week, the Museum launched Google Apps for Government for our 500 staff and support personnel. We chose Google Apps because of its ease of use and extensive collaboration and sharing capabilities. Our educators in Holocaust programs will use Google Docs to support online development of lesson plans. Our researchers and scholars will use Google Apps to develop their material on Holocaust history and the lessons learned. The general public, youth groups and teachers will be able to easily register for our many programs using Google Forms. Our staff will use Google Sites to collaborate on the multitude of cross- departmental programs and projects that we run each year to advance Holocaust understanding.

Our transition to Google went very well. We conducted a three-month pilot with staff from across the Museum followed by a three-month transition period. Our final switchover was done overnight on October 31. The transition required a rigorous communications and training program, with about 70% of our staff participating in classroom and webinar training led by our project integrator, Onix Networking. One of the key aspects that enabled our smooth transition was the identification of “Google Guides,” people from across the Museum who volunteered to help their colleagues with the new Google Apps environment. Now that we are in the cloud we will be able to take full advantage of a dynamic ecosystem of new functionality that continues to provide our employees new and innovative ways of doing the important work of the Museum with very little additional support required from my IT team.

The Museum's Google Guides mark Tuesday’s switchover.