Google Aims for the Enterprise


Gmail_out_of_beta(2)A few months ago I spent a day at Google talking about their products for enterprise customers.  Whilst their products at the time were impressive, there were a few key things that I thought were missing, in fact I posted some thoughts here about what I would do if I were them.  It seems I wasn’t too far off the mark (woohoo).

As they have posted on their blog today, Google have released a host of new features aimed at luring large companies away from the likes of Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.

Over the last few weeks and months there has been support for Blackberrys, Outlook and Offline access.  Now today they have announced support for email delegation and mail retention, both features that companies would look for in an email solution.  Oh and they’ve taken off the ‘beta’ labels!

So what questions remain?  Well there are a few obvious ones like does delegation work with the Outlook integration?  Delegation is one of things that most people won’t use, but those that do will be the PA’s of important people who will make lots of noise if it doesn’t work.  So you want to make any move of email system as easy as possible, Outlook support would be a big help.

The other gap I can see is in the Unified Communications area.  Microsoft have a very good suite of products in the area with Exchange and Office Communications Server, and IBM have a pretty good solution in SameTime.  Google Talk – from what I have seen – isn’t nearly as convincing.  They have the makings of a wider service, but nothing solid as yet.

The good news for Google is that MS’s Online services don’t currently do a great deal in the Unified Comms space, if you want that you need to go with an on premise solution. 

I think I’ve written before that personally I think Microsoft moving Exchange online might be Googles biggest opportunity.  By going online MS are validating the cloud messaging model in a big way, and companies looking to move to Exchange 2010 will have to ask themselves whether to go the traditional server route or go online.  With Google now supporting Outlook as a client, Google is a legitimate alternative to an online Exchange product.

It’ll be interesting to see what MS do to fight off Google.  With Exchange 2010 online and web based versions of Office they have the makings of a great product.  But the pricing will have to be very good, Googles $50 a year per user is hard to ignore.

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