Behind the scenes, what this means is that they're consolidating identities across the Google enterprise. They'll force the transition in early 2011, but at the moment it's optional.
Sounds great, but there's a catch for some users. The catch is that for some users there will be an identity collision, and reconciling that collision won't be pretty. These users should let others go first.
The users who are in trouble are those who used their Google Apps email address to register for Google services. For example, they used email@example.com as the email address to create a Google Account. (Yes, it's confusing. Not all Google Accounts are associated with Gmail addresses.)
After doing this, it's possible to use Blogger (for example) with the user name "firstname.lastname@example.org". The password may or may not the same as the Google Apps password associated with email@example.com; until this transition the accounts were completely separate.
Next year though the accounts will merge. In this case "firstname.lastname@example.org" will be belong to only one identity, an identity managed through Google Apps.
Merging identities is difficult. For example ...
...If your users used Picasa Web Albums with personal Google Accounts, they will not be able to reuse their old Picasa Web Album display usernames. They will have to sign up for new display usernames....
... The following Google products don't work with Google Apps accounts that have transitioned:
- Google Extra Storage
Review the options for transferring data between accounts.
At this time, these options are limited. Your users can transfer data in some applications from their personal Google Accounts to their Google Apps accounts after the conversion. There are no administrative controls for data transfer at this time. Each user will have to decide what to transfer and initiate the process. Learn more about transferring data in the Google Accounts Help Center.
Learn how to access two accounts at the same time in the same browser.
Users will no longer be able to access multiple Google accounts in the same browser unless they add an optional feature called multiple sign-in. See Using multiple accounts in the Google Accounts Help Center for more information.
Make sure your users complete the readiness checklist for users before they transition their accounts.
Note: After the transition, sign in to your admin control panel using your Google Apps account (email@example.com). You might also need to use a separate browser. See Signing in to your control panel for more information.
Users with conflicting Google Accounts can easily resolve their conflicts by renaming their personal Google Accounts, and the data in their personal accounts will remain safe and accessible to them. Here’s how a user can rename their personal Google Account:
- Step 1: Visit www.google.com/accounts and sign in with your personal Google Account
- Step 2: Click ‘Change email’ under ‘Personal Settings’
- Step 3: Enter a different email address where you can receive mail, enter your password, and click ‘Save email address’
- Step 4: Check your other email address and click the link in the verification message from Google to confirm your change
Yikes. This smells real bad. I remember how badly Google botched the transition from "Pages" to "Sites". Reading through this list I can see all kinds of bad news.
I will start the "renaming" process with the some of the problem accounts my family has, but we'll be going slow.