Sync GAL to Android

Syncing the Global Address List to Android phones isn’t fast or easy

— at least it didn’t used to be.

The Global Address List (GAL) is a shared, electronic address book which contains contact data on every person in an organization. Syncing the Global Address List and the contact information it contains is a universal need. Organizations of every size require consistent and accurate contact information. They also need to ensure that their employees have access to this information at their desk and on the go. This isn’t a one-time exercise either. Contacts change frequently—and all the changes need to be synced accurately and without undue delay.

The Global Address List affects almost every aspect of the Microsoft Exchange Server. If you are involved with the management or upkeep of a Microsoft Exchange Server, you know that Exchange’s operations revolve almost entirely around the GAL. For these reasons, an automated, centralized solution is necessary to ensure continuing business operations.


Syncing the GAL to Android phones wasn’t always so easy.

The GAL and Androids

The GAL is a useful and integral part of any organization. However, this database has a fundamental flaw. Microsoft has left a “Missing Sync.” They have not provided a native method to automatically sync the GAL to Androids. This will likely not change.

Currently, users can view the GAL on their Android phones. However, this isn’t enough. In a society where work can be done at and away from the desk, having the GAL accessible on every employee smartphone is crucial. Users can be more productive if they have the entire GAL right at their fingertips.

Manually Push Contacts. A central administrator can manually push contacts through Outlook to everyone’s mailbox utilizing Active Sync. While this may be feasible for companies that have less than 100 mailboxes, as a company grows, the amount of labor required for this becomes impractical.

Updates Aren’t Automatic. What happens to existing contacts when they change? Under a manual-push setup, numbers or contact photos won’t update without a central administrator pushing that information to a user’s phone. Imagine doing that for hundreds or even thousands of employees.

Can’t Access Contacts Offline. A common work-around for this GAL sync issue is to perform a simple reverse lookup on individuals via Outlook. This is sometimes reliable (albeit tedious), but it completely falls apart when offline. Should information be needed in a general dead-zone like on an airplane or in a tunnel, there will be no way to access the GAL.


GAL Sync Solutions for Office 365 vs Exchange on Androids

Many users hoped that Microsoft would address the myriad of issues present with data repositories, Outlook, and their Androids when they created Office 365. While the new cloud service did not inherently fix the issue, it did provide better tools for companies to create solutions using third-party software. For Office 365 users, solutions such as CiraSync provide a very simple, single-sign-on process which allows a central administrator to update, edit, and sync the global address list to any number of company Android devices.

Exchange On-Premise has a similar solution in itrezzo. While On-Premise solutions inherently require more time and effort to configure, once set up, the process is not much different than Office 365 solutions like CiraSync.


Benefits and Features of GAL Sync to Androids

By utilizing an all-in-one GAL Sync platform, administrators will be able to consolidate GAL contacts with other sources. Both itrezzo and CiraSync allow administrators to combine contacts from the GAL, Public Folders, CRM systems, SQL databases, and spreadsheets and centrally manage and automatically sync these contacts to employee Android phones.

Consolidation of company contacts isn’t the only feature to look for when deciding whether to buy an automated GAL sync solution. Users should also look at how a solution handles with redundant and obsolete data.

For example, itrezzo and CiraSync can handle redundant and obsolete data by allowing administrators to automatically sort and filter legacy data. This helps in cleaning up the database and ensures that every employee has up-to-date contacts on their Androids available anytime and anywhere.

SaaS like itrezzo and CiraSync can also minimize data costs with incremental updates. These solutions are programed to only look for changes to the data base and sync these changes to user Androids. Therefore, incremental updates significantly reduce IT labor and errors unlike manual solutions.

Users should also consider finding a solution like itrezzo and CiraSync that can leverage distribution groups to sync the GAL to Androids. In large organizations, IT will have set up several subgroups within their network or “distribution groups.” Distribution Groups are collections created with the contact data of individuals in the organization. By setting up automatic GAL Sync to only push contacts to certain groups or update only when a change is made, users who need this information can ensure the most accurate information are on their Android phones, while users who don’t need these contacts never need to worry about receiving redundant data.