Can Google Apps Supplant Microsoft Exchange?

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Google has made it one of its many missions to woo users away from Microsoft Exchange in favor of its Google Apps cloud computing offerings for communications like e-mail, messaging, calendar, contacts and collaboration.

In the past few months, Google has launched tools that make it simpler for businesses to migrate off of Exchange, Microsoft's flagship communications product, and off of Microsoft Outlook and onto Google Apps -- promising quick, simple and relatively painless transitions.

And as recently as last week, Google offered some insight into its progress as it pillages users away from Microsoft Exchange and other rival platforms. According to a Google blog post, companies are leaping off of Exchange in a bid to "go Google" at a rapid clip, leveraging the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange tool and the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook tool.

"These tools have helped unshackle thousands of organizations from their previous technology solutions," Hicham Alaoui, Google Apps Marketing Manager, wrote in the blog post. "Our customers have migrated more than 2 billion e-mail messages to Google Apps, and in the past two months alone, more than 14 million calendar events and 6 million contacts (not counting domain-wide address lists) were migrated to Google Apps from Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes."

Google also offers an IMAP mail migration tool for transfer of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 archives to Google Apps and the Google Apps Email Migration API which lets admins migrate legacy e-mail systems into their domain's hosted Gmail accounts.

Abhishek Bapna, Google Apps product manager, said the cloud computing wunderkind has roughly 2 million businesses currently using Google Apps spanning the spectrum from SMB to large enterprises with tens of thousands of seats. Google could not say specifically how many of its business users were previously Exchange shops, but Bapna noted that "many of them are coming off of Exchange."

Google credits the migrations to its ability to move users to Google Apps easily and quickly, while also cutting costs in the long run due to fewer infrastructure requirements. The bulk of the savings comes in straight hardware and software costs, but management costs can also be cut out of the equation, said Chris Vander Mey, Google Apps senior product manager.

By many accounts, Google Apps and Microsoft Exchange stack up relatively evenly when it comes to critical features and functions, save for a few differences here and there. But is that enough for Google to make hay against the incumbent?


Next: Google Partners Weigh In

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