Jul 14, 2009

Google Beachhead

Google continues to bolster its beachhead on the enterprise email market. Today it announced it is providing free of charge to Google Apps Premier and Education customers a "plug-in" that will migrate Notes mail and personal directory information to Google Apps.

The new tool lets customers migrate mail, calendar and contacts from Notes to Google Apps. The syncing tool, which Google says is a native Notes application, can be installed and configured in less than 30 minutes, for multiple users at once. The tool has already been tested with 40 of Google’s enterprise clients, including JohnsonDiversey (10K users) and Valeo (32K users). The tool is free for Google Apps Premier and Edu customers. 

The aggressive ramp up to enterprise-grade solutions hasn't always been as successful as Google has hoped. Changing the mind-set of enterprise IT decision makers who tend to follow established software delivery methods and practices is still a hard practice. In recent weeks Google has capitulated to some of these customer attitudes such as removing the "beta" label from the Google Apps tools.  The more clumsy release of the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook connector has been met with criticism for not offering pair-wise functionality with Outlook and disabling Microsoft Desktop Search, the search mechanism for Outlook. A July 10, 2009 PC World (IDG News Service) article puts it this way:

So Google embarked -- probably grudgingly -- down the path that other e-mail vendors have traveled with little success: trying to replicate the Outlook-Exchange experience with their back-end e-mail server and Outlook. Here was Google apparently getting dragged into the Microsoft way of doing things, creating -- gasp! -- a piece of PC software: an Outlook plug-in. The problems and complaints started immediately.

Right away, industry analysts cautioned CIOs and IT managers to examine the Google tool closely, warning them that it couldn't fully replicate in Gmail the functionality of the Outlook-Exchange combination, lacking basic features like the ability to synchronize Outlook notes and tasks, for example.

A tough market indeed. Clearly Google wants it enough to put so much effort into lowering the barriers to enterprise interest. In its campaign to grease the migration skids and polish the consumer-come-enterprise perception Google is waging a fierce battle that will require formidable reinforcements to back up.

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