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Google Wants to Replace Microsoft Exchange with an Outlook Plug-in

by Abel Avram on Jun 10, 2009 |

The new Google plug-in for Microsoft Outlook allows businesses to replace the Exchange server with Google Apps, giving the users the familiar Outlook experience, but having significant cost savings by running the back end in Google’s cloud.

The plug-in allows for instant synchronization of email, calendar, and contacts between Outlook and the usual Gmail/Calendar web based interface. Contacts added through Gmail appear in Outlook and calendar events set up in Outlook can be accessed online from Google Calendar.

The IMAP protocol previously used by Outlook to access Gmail accounts, and considered as slow for a large user base, is replaced by Google Offline which is dubbed as being much faster. The Outlook plug-in installation and configuration is a 2-clicks process. The users do not notice they are not using Exchange anymore.

Robert Rudy, CIO at Avago – a $7 billion company with 4,100 users - estimates that Google Apps costs 1/6th of the similar Exchange installation, saving them $1.6 million a year and winning a place among the “2009 CIO 100 Winners”. The plug-in has had another effect: the number of Avago’s employees using Outlook dropped from 39% to 12% in 4 weeks by switching to Gmail. Genentech, the largest Google Apps client, has 20,000 employees using the Outlook plug-in.

Google is offering a Premier and an Education edition. The Premier edition costs $50/user per year, and includes 25 GB of storage, instant search, SLA with 99.9% up time, mobile access, Google Video, Google Sites beside the usual Gmail, Docs, Calendar. Businesses with less than 50 users can apply for the ad-based free version. Currently, Google has 1 million business using Google Apps, and the vast majority of them are using the free version.

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IMAP & Outlook by Steve Macdonald

Outlook uses Outlook-Exchange Transport Protocol to talk to Exchange, not IMAP. IMAP was used to get Outlook to talk to Google heretofore, and yes, it was pretty slow. Outlook can also use RPC over HTTP to talk to Exchange.

Re: IMAP & Outlook by Abel Avram

Steve, you are correct. Thanks for pointing it out.

Migrating from Exchange by Larr Haustei

Is there any way now to migrate from an existing Exchange server with the data to google Apps?

Re: Migrating from Exchange by Abel Avram

Larr, I have not performed such a migration myself to know for sure how it works but from what I read it is like this: you install the add-in and go through one dialog asking you what data from the current Exchange configuration you want to import. The add-in imports the selected data and stores it to Google Apps and you are good to go. Also you might want to check this link www.itwriting.com/blog/1530-google-apps-add-on-... for info on Google add-in breaking Outlook's search feature before switching to Google Apps.

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