I caught an interesting snapshot of some companies' experience in moving their email from Lotus to Gmail on what seems to be a purely cost-cutting basis:
Genentech, Hamilton Beach, and Johnson Diversey are among a smattering of large companies that have turned off their e-mail servers and signed up for Google Gmail. And, for nearly two hours on Sept. 8, tens of thousands of employees at those companies couldn't access their Gmail accounts...
Since e-mail is relatively benign -- an outage wouldn't stop a production line, for example -- those businesses who've signed up for Gmail are willing to tolerate the occasional blip in service as the trade-off for inexpensive email.
While uptime is important, Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s success in the business world will depend on whether it can continue to work as closely with other businesses as it's apparently working with its early adopters, so that when -- not if -- relatively brief outages occur, businesses don't feel deserted.
Whether or not Google email is as reliable as enterprise vendors for email not even the biggest part of the decision for organizations looking at migrating. There are a number of reasons why companies might want to hold off for the foreseeable future.
First of all, who owns the email? Does ownership reside with the the enterprise or with Google? As of right now, Google's terms of service, are at best contradictory on this point. For organizations that have to comply with E-Discovery rules, how do they retain records? The benefits aren't clear to me.
Even worse for those organizations that want to get maximum bang for their buck from their collaboration tools, the prospects for integration between systems is not so good. Can data residing on Google be easily integrated into your Lotus Notes desktop applications, or Microsoft Office? Could Novell's Groupwise offer the real functionality that your business needs in terms of collaboration capabilities?
We're still a long way away from seeing Google as a fully-qualified enterprise solution. The company undoubtedly has the resources to deliver enterprise solutions if it so chooses, but until then, companies are advised to steer clear.
Vaclav Vincalek September 23rd, 2009 08:00:00 AM