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

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

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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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