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Outlook Inertia the Main Factor Holding Business From Google Apps

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the safety-blanket dept.

Software 394

Meshach writes "There's an interesting article in PC World claiming that the major factor preventing businesses from transferring their communication interface from Outlook to Google Apps is employees' unwillingness to give up a tool that's so familiar. Basically, Google is underestimating how attached businesses and their workers are to Office and Outlook in particular. Quoting: 'Google has found out that, yes, many companies are happy to ditch Exchange for Gmail if it means saving money and eliminating the grief of maintaining Exchange in-house. However, and maybe to a degree unexpected by Google, it also discovered that many companies consider it a deal-breaker to lose the functionality that the Outlook-Exchange combo provides, thanks to the deep links that exist between this client-server tandem.'"

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394 comments

Can you help me? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667147)

A friend told me to come here for help installing a linux in my windows. Does anybody know where I can get a pirated copy of the linux?

Re:Can you help me? (2, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28667383)

Yes, and for $10 I'll tell you.

You can use outlook (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667159)

Not a great summary .... the article mentions the synchronization tool, so outlook can be the front end. http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/outlook_sync.html

Doesn't this make it a non-issue ?

Re:You can use outlook (4, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | about 5 years ago | (#28667265)

The real issue, from a real business point of view, is that you would have to be totally fsckin' stupid to store your confidential company communication and data on Google's servers -- and in a foreign country if you are not in the US.

Re:You can use outlook (5, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | about 5 years ago | (#28667409)

You've certainly nailed one of the biggest issues. The ability to control your data, have a deletion policy that is then subpoena-free (including backup destruction), etc. is certainly a deal breaker for most larger companies.

There are other issues too though:
Availability / uptime (and yes, I know a poorly run Exchange infrastructure can have a lot of downtime, but a well run one - ours - has certainly outperformed the availability of Google over the last two years)
Integration with other MS applications such as SharePoint and Access
Another aspect of the "data control" is user control - some companies don't want their folks logging on to mail from just any old virus-infected, malware laden machine and want them to only connect via known good machines on the corporate network. Gmail makes that control impossible.

There are many others, but that's the flavor. I know that some small companies and even some medium ones will think the above concerns are silly and misplaced, but that's the type of argument you are going to get from the big hitters.

Re:You can use outlook (4, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | about 5 years ago | (#28667565)

First off, I just want to say that the paranoia issue is moot. Google provides the same sort of assurances that any other outsourced IT organization provides. It's a matter of seeing successful businesses doing this for years that will convince everyone that Google isn't just that ad company they're so familiar with.

You've certainly nailed one of the biggest issues. The ability to control your data, have a deletion policy that is then subpoena-free (including backup destruction), etc. is certainly a deal breaker for most larger companies.

Not optional for any public company in the US, so a non-issue.

There are other issues too though:
Availability / uptime (and yes, I know a poorly run Exchange infrastructure can have a lot of downtime, but a well run one - ours - has certainly outperformed the availability of Google over the last two years)

Sure, you might expose yourself to increased downtime (though it's probably worth noting that you're referring to apps during its beta period). That's a valid down-side. Of course, you get global replication and disaster recovery for free, so you have to think in terms of not having to implement those VERY costly options which aren't optional for most corporations. If downtime were massive, then it still doesn't matter, but Google has had a few bad days during beta, which is vastly superior to my last company and about the same as my current one.

Integration with other MS applications such as SharePoint and Access

Sharepoint (and whatever MS's IM system is, which does quite a lot more than IM, and integrates deeply with SharePoint) is really what this article was getting at. I fully agree that this is a limitation of Google Apps, and while I think it's surmountable for most companies, those that are already serious MS shops will have significant end-user pain moving to something else. Google Docs + Google Talk (both branded and isolated to your company's domain through Apps) make up for some of the functionality, but certainly not all.

Another aspect of the "data control" is user control - some companies don't want their folks logging on to mail from just any old virus-infected, malware laden machine and want them to only connect via known good machines on the corporate network. Gmail makes that control impossible.

That's true ONLY of Google's default Gmail, not the Gmail that's part of Apps. If I recall correctly, you can limit access to your domain by IP. There's a lot of services for the upper-end that I'm not as familiar with because my domain is the freebie service, but I vaguely recall seeing this as a feature (along with S-Ox compliance and various other for-extra-pay features).

There are many others, but that's the flavor. I know that some small companies and even some medium ones will think the above concerns are silly and misplaced, but that's the type of argument you are going to get from the big hitters.

Of course, the real question is: are these significant enough issues that the big boys aren't going to have to deal with competing against leaner organizations that grow up from those smaller companies today. I honestly think that outsourced infrastructure is going to be the way almost all large companies go over the next 20 years. This is why I got out of sysadmin, in part.

Re:You can use outlook (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 5 years ago | (#28667587)

Does Google actually provide an equivalent to Exchange?

I'm no business user, but I'd love a way to sync my contacts, appointments and e-mail to my Gmail account. As it stands right now (IIRC), I can sync my Windows Mobile phone's appointments and contacts with Google Calendar and Gmail via the pseudo-Exchange server that they've set up, and/or sync my Outlook 2007 calendar with Google Calendar via the Google Calendar Sync application. Contact sync for Outlook 2007 is nonexistent, and all E-Mail has to be done over IMAP (which is a pain, because Outlook 2007's IMAP implementation sucks donkey balls).

Is there a better way to do this? I'd be (more than happily!) willing to ditch Outlook and Windows Mobile all together if there's another solution that provides contact/appointment/e-mail syncing in one package. Preferably no hobbled-together open source solutions that work half the time... Would Android get me where I want to go? Do their phones sync to Gmail/GCalendar properly? How about a desktop program that syncs seamlessly with Google?

Re:You can use outlook (1)

dkf (304284) | about 5 years ago | (#28667591)

Another aspect of the "data control" is user control - some companies don't want their folks logging on to mail from just any old virus-infected, malware laden machine and want them to only connect via known good machines on the corporate network. Gmail makes that control impossible.

If those employees are still using IE6 and old versions of Outlook (depressingly likely) then there's a fair chance that the corporate network is already deeply virus-infested and malware laden. Indeed, I know a number of people who allege that the most common piece of malware out there is McAfee...

Re:You can use outlook (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28667435)

Most people are that stupid or, at least, sufficiently ignorant that they don't realise that it's stupid. Even if they run an in-house mail server, for example, a lot of companies use MSN messenger to discuss business matters. Most companies aren't technology companies, and don't have enough IT-related experience to realise why this is a problem.

Re:You can use outlook (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28667513)

Most small businesses would have trouble generating a page worth of sensitive information; the relationships they have with customers (not just the contact info) are the important part of the business (perhaps along with being reliable).

Re:You can use outlook (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 years ago | (#28667477)

Vs running on running your confidential company communication on MS?
The only way a real business will change is to read its mail in a newspaper or have it dumped on the net.
Until this generation gets Enigma 'ed or Crypto AG'ed they will blindly trust MS and Google.
Who would trust Google with its US gov seed money and NSA backrooms on every US (and friends) ISP pipe Google is connected via?
Who would trust MS with decades of closed source bugs?
By default *anyone* interested can get in as you turn on a MS product.

Re:You can use outlook (0)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 years ago | (#28667491)

Yeah!

For your business to store its data on Google's servers would be be as totally fsckin' stupid as storing its money in a bank! Much better to rely on your own security forces, strongboxes, armored cars, and safes!

Re:You can use outlook (1)

Enleth (947766) | about 5 years ago | (#28667647)

Just wait until Google starts to sell a Google Apps Appliance Box in the 2U 19" format, just like their search appliances. Actually, I'm amazed that they're not doing this now - if they added an Exchange gateway as a bonus, it would sell like fresh bread.

Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (4, Insightful)

LibertineR (591918) | about 5 years ago | (#28667161)

I know, I know, the prevailing opinion is that SharePoint sucks, but in my experience, companies that grab hold of SharePoint integration with Exchange and MS Office, would rather give up their children than that combo.

Where is the competition for that ENTIRE feature set, for a comparative amount of money?

Its full Lock-In, and I have no idea how Google competes with that.

Re:Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667241)

Does Google Apps let you host the data yourselves? The only time we want our confidential information off-site is in the form of encrypted backups.

Re:Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (1, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about 5 years ago | (#28667393)

I use Outlook at work and it's shit. Searching email is really slow, and you can sense all the bloat as you do anything - the options I want are always hidden somewhere. I used google desktop for a while and amused myself with how fast it was finding emails and files, but in the end I gave up because of limits on how many files it indexes (why is there a limit?), and because it (twice) caused my PC to slow down unusably. Also, I had to fiddle with the registry to make it index more file types. Then again, you have to do that sort of thing with Windows to get it to index files. Why is it apparently so hard to know what's on your own, local hard drive? I don't get it. I have the CPU and disk space for indexes.

Re:Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (0, Troll)

smartin (942) | about 5 years ago | (#28667395)

I would give up my children to be free of that combo. Not one of those tools works well either by itself or together. Sharepoint in particular has no value what so ever and Outlook and Office are steaming piles of shit.

Can't wait for Google Wave to be available hopefully it will crush Outhouse/Exchange.

Convert them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667451)

One at a time.

We have 800 users where I work and I use Evolution with our exchange server, not only is it faster than outlook but it is more intuitive and does not have that stupid ribbon bar. So far I have converted about 25 users and the tide is turning. Outlook is still installed on their systems but it almost never gets used by the users whom I have converted.

 

I am having similar success with OpenOffice. I am putting OpenOffice on our standard image and explain it as a disaster recovery tool. There have been many times when word will not open a corrupt document but OpenOffice will with a little formatting problems usually due to the corruption. In fact most users continue to use OpenOffice after their document is recovered because they seem to trust it better than Word which screws up their documents.

.
.
.

One PC/User at a time and the tide will turn....

Re:Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | about 5 years ago | (#28667567)

Where is the competition for that ENTIRE feature set, for a comparative amount of money?

This is where the geek gets it wrong.

He sees the MS Office suite or perhaps Exchange.

What he doesn't see is that Microsoft - and Microsoft's partners - can deliver a turn key solution for a business of any size.

Microsoft has had close on to 35 years experience and - quite literally - tens of billions of dollars to spend on the study of office work.

Re:Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (1)

todrules (882424) | about 5 years ago | (#28667619)

And also the integration with Communicator and Live Meeting. I have teammates all over the country, and these tools make it a lot easier to collaborate and communicate.

Re:Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#28667625)

companies that grab hold of SharePoint integration with Exchange and MS Office, would rather give up their children than that combo.

So the stereotypes are true??? Damn...

Market it to Notes users (4, Insightful)

chiph (523845) | about 5 years ago | (#28667169)

They'll change in a heartbeat -- anything .. Anything! to get away from Notes.

Chip H.

Re:Market it to Notes users (5, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | about 5 years ago | (#28667197)

Nope. Notes users are like abused women. They really believe that this time, everything will be okay, if they can only FORGIVE....

Re:Market it to Notes users (1)

gander666 (723553) | about 5 years ago | (#28667239)

Wow, you nailed it...

Re:Market it to Notes users (1)

PenguinGuy (307634) | about 5 years ago | (#28667595)

Windows users are like abused women. They really believe that this time, everything will be okay, if they can only FORGIVE....

There fixed that for ya

Re:Market it to Notes users (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | about 5 years ago | (#28667253)

Notes is heaven compared to the 'powers' of Groupwise.

Re:Market it to Notes users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667263)

Oh come on now. Notes isn't all that bad. Sure it has it's issues. It's slow. It's bloated. It doesn't display things correctly. It's complex. It's slow. The scheduling interface leaves a lot to be desired. The address book is pretty clunky. It's slow. The client is a piece of crap. But really, it's not that bad...

SEE? Just like a woman! (5, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | about 5 years ago | (#28667311)

Oh come on now. He isn't all that bad. Sure, he has his issues. He is slow. He is bloated. He doesn't treat me correctly. He's complex. He's slow. The way he treats me leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, I would rather he talked to me instead of punch me in the face. He is slow. He has a hard time staying employed. But really, he's not THAT bad...

Re:Market it to Notes users (1)

TheLongshot (919014) | about 5 years ago | (#28667611)

Heh, we cheered at a previous company when we finally changed from Notes to Exchange for our company E-Mail. It kept going for years because the man in charge liked the encryption functionality of Notes, apparently. No matter that it was a PITA for the rest of us to use.

In other news (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 years ago | (#28667175)

Windows inertia keeping people from using a proper operating system.

Re:In other news (1)

Norsefire (1494323) | about 5 years ago | (#28667355)

I wouldn't say that it's Windows inertia it's more that- ... wait ... what's an "operating system"? You mean there's computers that say something other than "Windows" when they're booted?

Re:In other news (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28667387)

You mean Internet Explorer?

Re:In other news (1)

jbuk (1581659) | about 5 years ago | (#28667533)

Booting? Is that like when you press the big blue button on front of the Hard Drive? [itwire.com]

Re:In other news (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | about 5 years ago | (#28667615)

Is Windows Inertia (TM) the name the name Microsoft plans to release Windows 7 under?

Proper operating systems... (0)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28667487)

Windows inertia keeping people from using a proper operating system.

Linux's file dialogs are too obsolete to call it a modern operating system. Once Windows 7 goes mainstream, people will be addicted to the libraries feature in the Windows 7 dialogs like they are crack. Then, not only will Linux have to come up with better file dialogs, which, they have a lot of work to do, they might also have to consider how they will migrate people's library settings from Windows to Linux.

Re:In other news (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667509)

Windows inertia keeping people from using a proper operating system.

Once I can boot into a new Linux install and have my four monitors come up without having to manually edit files and search forums for answers....then you can call Linux a proper operating system.

Re:In other news (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28667549)

You say that as if Windows were an operating system. That is like saying that a Bobby Car is fit and eligible for the 24 hours of Le Mans race. ^^

Too much in too little time (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#28667191)

Google is trying to explode onto the scene with products and services that compete head to head with some very deeply ingrained technologies. Sometimes, like with the ChromeOS, it's like they are trying to compete against themselves.

What they will find is that earning a good reputation through customer satisfaction is the way to win over customers. Trying to bowl them over with competing products is almost never effective.

Google Search didn't kill Yahoo! search in one fell swoop.
Gmail didn't become dominant (and it still isn't) against Hotmail/Live Mail right away.
Google Maps was able to leverage the Google Search engine, but still has stiff competition from Yahoo! Maps and MapQuest.

But lately, they've been producing new products at an astonishing rate. Taking the shotgun approach of seeing which spaghetti sticks to the wall, Google doesn't seem to have a larger view of what they want to do with their technical talent. This is going to be their downfall in the long run as the advertisement-based profit stream slowly dries up.

Re:Too much in too little time (2, Insightful)

Insanity Defense (1232008) | about 5 years ago | (#28667337)

But lately, they've been producing new products at an astonishing rate. Taking the shotgun approach of seeing which spaghetti sticks to the wall,

Is it really just lately? It is also possible that a lot of these products have been in the pipeline for some time and we see them as they mature to the point of public testing. We may have seen things like GMail and Google maps sooner because they were early starts compared to what is coming out now. It takes time to start and mature a product to even a public beta testing level.

Re:Too much in too little time (3, Insightful)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 years ago | (#28667357)

I think this is, because a lot of their services are offered free and they are looking for more profitable businessmodels. Advertisments is their only really profit machine at this point.

Re:Too much in too little time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667427)

What they will find is that earning a good reputation through customer satisfaction is the way to win over customers. Trying to bowl them over with competing products is almost never effective.

Yeah like Google really gives noone a choice of search engines. And people are forced to use google because... D'UH.

Google Search didn't kill Yahoo! search in one fell swoop.
Gmail didn't become dominant (and it still isn't) against Hotmail/Live Mail right away.
Google Maps was able to leverage the Google Search engine, but still has stiff competition from Yahoo! Maps and MapQuest.

And since when did Google set out to 'kill' Yahoo?

Gmail > Hotmail/Live/whatever it is now.
Yahoo has maps? MapQuest.. never heard of...

Re:Too much in too little time (5, Funny)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 years ago | (#28667527)

Wow.

I cannot believe that you loaded that metaphorical shotgun with spaghetti and fired it at the wall.

Now clean up your metaphorical mess and don't do that again.

Same old story, same old song and dance... (3, Interesting)

that IT girl (864406) | about 5 years ago | (#28667195)

I believe this is the argument that keeps so many people on Windows and IE, too. This article is informative in that it brings up another example I hadn't thought of before, but when it comes down to it, people just resist change.
I guess the bottom line is, if you are coming out with a new product, you don't have to be the best--you just have to first and spread quickly. Then it really doesn't matter much what comes later, you're in the money.

People WILL change... (1)

LibertineR (591918) | about 5 years ago | (#28667227)

.... but only upon being faced with a demonstrable improvement. Case in point: I have yet to encounter anyone resisting a move away from Vista after sitting through a Windows 7 demo. I expect Vista marketshare to be around 1 percent by the end of 2010.

Re:People WILL change... (1)

that IT girl (864406) | about 5 years ago | (#28667257)

I'm inclined to say Vista is an exception, since it was precluded by something better and hasn't been around long enough for people to get set in their ways with it. However, I do get your point. I'm looking forward to Win7 myself. I skipped the whole Vista debacle, though.

Re:People WILL change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667325)

I would argue that XP is not superior to Vista after using both for a while. I had been using Vista for a year and gotten used to its different ways of doing things. Now, due to some limitations of certain software I need to run, I am back to XP. Vista is the better OS for most users, I feel.

Vista has a better user action learning system. I need to make use of the multilingual features of Windows, so the IME is one of my most frequently used tools. In XP I find myself fighting the IME all the time. It either wants to put me in the wrong default language or it suggests incorrect characters during input. Vista learned quickly what my usage patterns were and molded the IME functionality to fit me within a week of use.

Other things like builtin desktop search are very nice compared to the clumsy add-on required for XP.

Sure, performance for things like Control Panel and Add/Remove programs is terrible in Vista. And its penchant for not searching for a wifi network until pushed is irksome. But in all, it is a very usable OS with definite advantages over XP.

I can't wait to see Win7 if all the claims about it are true.

Re:People WILL change... (3, Informative)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 5 years ago | (#28667381)

I've had Windows 7 on my desktop for a while (currently RTC). I really don't notice too many differences between it and Vista except for some superficial UI changes. On the other hand, Vista was more or less a fine operating system. It's not Vista that was shit, it was the IT media that was shit (but everyone already knew that).

Re:Same old story, same old song and dance... (4, Interesting)

capnkr (1153623) | about 5 years ago | (#28667369)

{snip}...you don't have to be the best--you just have to first and spread quickly. Then it really doesn't matter much what comes later, you're in the money.

And that bit there pretty much explains the whole Windows hegemony... Within the last 24 hours, on another non-tech forum, there's a guy who's been getting griefed by a WinXP install. After others suggested Linux, he responded with the (all-too common) "...But I can't run my business-related Win apps on it". Of course, and only after I pointed out to him that he could easily do so via virtualization, he comes clean with the real reason - that it is by his choice he continues to use Windows, which in his own words he refers to as 'the devil he knows'. He has been having these issues for over 2 months now, attempting to get this box running - and this from a guy who coded DB apps for Win98. People are very resistant to change. Most of 'em, it seems, they'd rather suffer. :/

Re:Same old story, same old song and dance... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#28667519)

I guess the bottom line is, if you are coming out with a new product, you don't have to be the best--you just have to first and spread quickly. Then it really doesn't matter much what comes later, you're in the money.

Not to mention:
2. First contact with reality, your customers will think other missing features are important.
3. Get a revenue stream going, don't squeeze for profit just realize money = developers.

It's like many other not-so-great standards, just by getting enough money and momentum behind it you can fix it later. Just run with it and eventually you'll get to where everyone links to youtube because everyone links to youtube. The same really goes for software, you want what's popular because that's what is easy to find people for, easy to find solutions for, basicly finding out how to do things differently every time is hard. I'm sure many here have thought "Sigh, that's the Windows solution. Where's the Mac/Linux solution???".

Re:Same old story, same old song and dance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667525)

Vista did the dirty work, and Win7 will get the merit. It sounds familiar?

Not willing to give up functionality?? (5, Insightful)

magisterx (865326) | about 5 years ago | (#28667199)

it also discovered that many companies consider it a deal-breaker to lose the functionality that the Outlook-Exchange combo provides

Isn't that the same as saying that companies like the functionality and are willing to pay for it?

I could certainly understand the point if it had said that they are not willing to lose the current interface or not willing to lose the training time already put in, but saying they are not willing to lose the functionality is the same as saying it is good software, they are willing to pay for it, and they are not willing to switch until someone can come up with something actually better.

Client-server works well for many applications (3, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | about 5 years ago | (#28667287)

>> it also discovered that many companies consider it a deal-breaker to
>> lose the functionality that the Outlook-Exchange combo provides

> Isn't that the same as saying that companies like the functionality
> and are willing to pay for it?

I think it is a more general unwillingness to accept that the client-server model works pretty darn well for many business-intensive apps, and that fat clients often are better suited to business use than browser-based apps. If pure mobility is the goal than the browser-based systems are a necessity, but I have seen too many unfortunate office workers clicking away at browser windows for tasks that could have been handled in seconds by a directly-connected interface.

sPh

Microsoft shell game (5, Insightful)

chrylis (262281) | about 5 years ago | (#28667213)

The most exasperating irony of this situation (and its siblings of getting people to switch off of MS Office and Windows) is that each new version of Windows (and, recently Office) is a drastically new product anyway. Businesses say they don't want to retrain employees (and schools say that they have to train for MS products)--and then when XP or Vista or Win7 rolls around, they retrain anyway but still claim that familiarity with the interface is the reason they won't consider alternatives.

Re:Microsoft shell game (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 5 years ago | (#28667437)

All this droning on about training but I've never seen a company offer any training on anything other than custom applications that are specific to the organisation. Windows and Office training may have happened years ago when computers were new but today...

Re:Microsoft shell game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667471)

The difference here is the level of training required. For example, our company does a 1 hour required training for folks moving from XP to Vista. This is basically to show them the (easily mastered) differences in UI and to introduce them to the new features that folks don't always pick up and run with on their own (like the integrated search, especially for the start menu and the different - but better - way to connect to VPN).

Switching them to a whole new OS like OSX or Red Hat or something would be a drastically different training program and would NOT be some little 1 hour overview course. The reality is that the training would be a much bigger burden - but we can't even look at doing that because the number and complexity of Line Of Business applications would cost so much to rewrite (or in many cases attempt to cajole our vendors into rewriting).

Appliances are the way to go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667219)

Time for Google to buy Zimbra http://www.zimbra.com/ Bundle it with some hw to make appliance like google search appliance. Then provide some local data storage for cache and expand backup/archive/recover over the net by their datacenters. Streamline deployment, management, scaleability and encrypt data stored in backend for security.

Wouldn't be too bad, really.

Re:Appliances are the way to go! (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 years ago | (#28667375)

Only if Yahoo would sell it, because Yahoo bought it some time ago. And buying Yahoo wasn't something Google was allowed to do.

Re:Appliances are the way to go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667391)

Yahoo already bought Zimbra, a couple years ago.

Replacing Outlook and Office are the key apps (2, Interesting)

prometheon123 (835586) | about 5 years ago | (#28667233)

About 7 years ago, I did a Linux desktop pilot with a large ad firm in Chicago. It would have reduced their costs, improved reliability, etc. However, the IT Director at the time did everything she could to work against me. She wouldn't enable IMAP on the server, which made switching off of Notes impossible. Further more, OpenOffice was 1.0 and the compatibility with Office docs was terrible, and it's not a whole helluva lot better today. Almost every other app had a viable open source replacement, but the Office suite was the Achilles heel. If the open source community could get a full replacement for the Office suite, especially Outlook, it wouldn't be as hard to switch to Linux on the desktop. Maybe now that Oracle owns OpenOffice, we'll get better compatibility with Office files. However, compatibility isn't enough as "me too" products don't do very well in the market place. We need something that has enough "killer features" compelling enough to switch off of Office and Windows.

Microsoft may just fix this themselves (3, Informative)

localroger (258128) | about 5 years ago | (#28667247)

If the next version of Outlook is as different as the last issue of Word was from everything that went before, the advantage of familiarity will disappear.

Re:Microsoft may just fix this themselves (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 years ago | (#28667315)

If the next version of Outlook is as different as the last issue of Word was from everything that went before, the advantage of familiarity will disappear.

I think it's a little different with Outlook - the tasks are much simpler (read and respond to email, manage a calender) for most users - many of who probably on use one or two task bar items (New, Reply, print) or tabs (Day, week, Month) so the switch wont entail learning a lot of new menus. So even if you change the overall interface as long as the on-screen view is relatively familiar people won't care.

Word, otoh, is much more of a user intensive experience; requiring the use of more commands, even if some are used infrequently. As a result, interface changes have a much greater impact.

Re:Microsoft may just fix this themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667331)

This argument get's overused and is not actually that big a deal. The ribbon menustyle does not change the logical interface, just the (menu) structure where you find them. All the user actions remain the same, they are just located elsewhere. And since Office menus are so cluttered with all the features, ribbon is actually much easier especially if you're not a poweruser.

Works in reverse (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 5 years ago | (#28667267)

the major factor preventing businesses from transferring their communication interface from Outlook to Google Apps is employees' unwillingness to give up a tool that's so familiar

Reversely, it happens to be one of the reasons people do not want to give up the Google search engine in favor of Bing: "a tool that is so familiar".

Re:Works in reverse (1)

db32 (862117) | about 5 years ago | (#28667461)

And here I thought it had to do with the fact that most users don't know the difference between a search engine and a browser. I have literally had to send screenshots to users circling the address bar to show them where to type the address I gave them because they were typing it into the search bar, or worse, directly into google. You make bing the default, make google hard to pick, and you have reality...where there is a sudden surge of bing users and MS is claiming success. Semi computer literate users continue to just use google because they know the difference. I have only ever met a few people that sang the praise of any other search engine and most of them were MS fanboys anyways.

Secrecy (5, Insightful)

Necroman (61604) | about 5 years ago | (#28667271)

I think it's more about letting another company handle your company's email. There is so much critical information about a company in their email, why would they trust it to any external company, even if it is Google. Also, I'm unfamiliar with how Google handles data retention of email. Outlook allows some backup of emails at the IT level of all company emails (included deleted ones).

I know I wouldn't want to have my company give up control of it's email to Google (5000 person company).

What about hosted Exchange? (1)

LibertineR (591918) | about 5 years ago | (#28667341)

Thousands of companies leave their mail on other companies servers when they use Hosted Exchange. The issues usually boils down to whether or not a company wants to admin their own Exchange servers in-house.

Personally, I dont get this, because while Exchange used to be a nightmare, it is far from that now. In fact, its pretty simple if things are done right from the beginning, and servers are properly maintained.

Re:What about hosted Exchange? (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 5 years ago | (#28667455)

Personally, I dont get this, because while Exchange used to be a nightmare, it is far from that now. In fact, its pretty simple if things are done right from the beginning, and servers are properly maintained.

You would be amazed how many alleged sysadmins couldn't admin their way out of a paper bag. You would be sad at the number of businesses that take the approach "it's not our staff that's the problem, Exchange is such a horror to manage that you need someone who can dedicate their entire life to it".

Perhaps it's because admitting it's your staff that are the problem means admitting that you made a bad hiring decision.

Re:What about hosted Exchange? (2, Insightful)

gonz (13914) | about 5 years ago | (#28667577)

I think it's more about letting another company handle your company's email. There is so much critical information about a company in their email, why would they trust it to any external company, even if it is Google.

Thousands of companies leave their mail on other companies servers when they use Hosted Exchange. The issues usually boils down to whether or not a company wants to admin their own Exchange servers in-house.

You're comparing apples and oranges here. With hosted Exchange, you're entrusting your data to a medium-sized company that specializes in hosting Exchange. They charge a fee because that's really their business plan. With Google Apps, you're entrusting your data to a massive leviathan that aims to eventually be a competitor for every business in every industry, and who specializes in mining the hell out of everyone else's data. Google doesn't charge a fee because your data is way more valuable to them than the actual cost of hosting it.

Sure, Google has a privacy policy. But what good is a promise to only use your data to "improve our services" and "develop new services", when those "services" are completely unbounded? Google is constantly trying to invent new services, and inevitably its services will turn into a conflict of interest.

Google might be appropriate for individuals who don't see any value in data privacy. But it's not appropriate for a business.

-Gonz

Re:Secrecy (1)

Jahava (946858) | about 5 years ago | (#28667449)

I agree. While cloud-based applications and communications provide some extremely desirable features, a company's internal communications are its lifeblood. While good arguments can be made to trust this to Google's hosting services, good arguments can be made against it as well.

What Google really should do is provide an appliance - a suite of servers pre-loaded with Google Apps, GMail, etc. - that companies can buy or lease from them and integrate internally. They already do this [google.com] for many technologies including Google Search [google.com] and Google Earth [google.com] .

Re:Secrecy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667469)

I work at a mid-sized American university. We recently transitioned some 30000 email accounts to Google. Many other universities have done/are doing the same. Personally, I trust Google more than I trust the average IT department.

Re:Secrecy (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 years ago | (#28667569)

I think it's more about letting another company handle your company's email.

Yeah! That would be like letting another company handle your company's finances. Down with banks and their hideously invasive checking accounts and credit cards!

Re:Secrecy (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 5 years ago | (#28667575)


I think it's more about letting another company handle your company's email. There is so much critical information about a company in their email, why would they trust it to any external company, even if it is Google.

How about the internet connection that feeds your email, are companies willing to trust an external company for that? If you're paranoid, there's a ton of people you could be worried about if you lack trust.

The truth is the world is built on trust. I really think most companies couldn't care less about trusting email to an external company. Anyone on Exchange is ALREADY trusting Microsoft with their email infra-structure. Is it really that different trusting Google?

No, I really do think this is about people losing Outlook. I seriously don't understand it, since Outlook is about the worst program I've ever had to avoid using. There's a certain segment of the population that are just dinosaurs and refuse any kind of change once it's put upon them. If those people have any power within a company, they can easily kill any move to replace Outlook with something else.

Absolutely true (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 5 years ago | (#28667277)

Time and time again I've found the only sticking point for the end user is Outlook. They often readily accept Firefox, OpenOffice, and a host of other application substitutions, but get hung up on Outlook. The bizarre thing is that Outlook really isn't very good.

Re:Absolutely true (1, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | about 5 years ago | (#28667301)

The bizarre thing is that Outlook really isn't very good

It used to be, once upon a time. I remember being blown away by Outlook 98. It just annihilated every other mail client on functions, interface, and usability. I swore by Outlook for years and years.

However, when I was asked by my present employer to select and deploy a new email system, I chose Google Apps, and now I do everything in gmail via a browser. Because it's better.

Re:Absolutely true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667335)

you can't just write "outlook is not very good" as a fact. give us reasons! In my organization it's a very useful tool that cut's down secretarial work to a minimum. No other tool I know is that well integrated with other office tools.

Re:Absolutely true (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28667529)

You're handwaving even more than the grandparent. How has it cut down secretarial work? What are the features that Outlook has that other products don't which make it good? How is the user interface superior.

Re:Absolutely true (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about 5 years ago | (#28667431)

The bizarre thing is that Outlook really isn't very good.

I'd like to know what you're basing this comparison on. Do you use Outlook in your daily routine? My work life is absolutely run by Calendar and Tasks and I'm sure this is the case for the vast majority of users. I'll also say that compared to Outlook 2003 the 2007 version is head-and-shoulders better. Tasks are much easier to work with, and the ability to categorize messages makes inbox management much easier (though I'd really rather see categories replaced with tags). My only complaint is that Outlook likes to freeze up on me, but that is entirely due to the fact that our Exchange server is overworked.

Google looking ahead to Wave of future (5, Informative)

RyanHam (1596459) | about 5 years ago | (#28667313)

Google appear to be actually focusing on emails replacement and to me it looks very promising: Wave combines email, instant messaging and collaboration. You can run it on googles servers or on your own. Its very promising. Google Wave http://wave.google.com/ [google.com] Common irritations with email, - replying to one person, reply to the group, making sure everyones included - trying to coordinate on one document via email and contant back forth emails

Is English your first language? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667425)

I made some corrections to your post. There were so many simple mistakes that I felt you could probably benefit from some help. I encourage you to keep studying English!

Google appears to be actually focusing on email's replacement, and to me it looks very promising. Wave combines email, instant messaging, and collaboration. You can run it on Google's servers or on your own. It's very promising.
http://wave.google.com/ [google.com] (If you used HTML tags, you could cut down on extraneous text.)

Wave addresses some common irritations with email: replying to one person, replying to the group, making sure everyone's included, and trying to coordinate on one document via email and constant back and forth emails

Now, the last sentence doesn't really make any sense. I don't think it is an English problem, but a communication problem. You haven't explained how any of those things are irritations with email. Additionally, the "coordinate on one document" concept isn't clear at all.

I suggest you take this to your ESL professor for some better help and suggestions. He (or she) could give you more information about the proper use of punctuation and verb tenses. Your professor would probably also have time to help you formulate your last sentence into something comprehensible.

Good luck! I know learning a new language is tough, but you seem like you're well on your way.

Re:Is English your first language? (1)

RyanHam (1596459) | about 5 years ago | (#28667499)

lol thanks, my problem actually was, that I was copy-pasting to rearrange the paragraphing and I accidentally hit submit. Then I couldn't edit.

True, and it won't be an easy fix (1)

sootman (158191) | about 5 years ago | (#28667351)

There are lots of problems with exchange/outlook but the fact is, the feature set is pretty complete. Microsoft did a lot of boring work [jwz.org] to make lots of things happen, like the ability to invite people to meetings, collect responses, send updates when they get changed, deal with timezones, etc etc etc. People who rely on it (and there are literally millions) would really have their work impacted by not having all those features.

Give me an alternative... (1)

simp (25997) | about 5 years ago | (#28667399)

I've got 10 years of emails in .pst files. I use that as my personal knowledge base. Copernic desktop search is used for indexing those emails, it kicks all the other search tools in the balls. X1, MS desktop search, Google desktop, they are all not quite there yet.
The Outlook calendar function is also vital but can be migrated to something else much more easily. Not so the emails. Until I have something with which I can migrate my emails into a more sensible format than pst files and have a kick-ass search tool Outlook is not going anywhere.

Not the *users* who are inertial (1, Troll)

MaggieL (10193) | about 5 years ago | (#28667401)

The article is smoking crack on one point: It's not the *users* who are inertial. It's the Minesweeper Champion Solitaire Experts (MCSE) who run their IT operations, who are deeply invested in all the crap they had to learn to keep Domain Controllers and Exchange Servers running.

Re:Not the *users* who are inertial (1)

that IT girl (864406) | about 5 years ago | (#28667515)

Hmm.. I see your point, but having worked in IT, I can testify that there have been many times when we wanted to implement something that would be very much an improvement, and all we got were complaints that it didn't work the way the old system did. One guy even said he was annoyed that we expected him to learn something new (scary, as he works with a particularly transient set of customers). You can definitely have problems with either side, but sometimes the crap you have to put up with from the users when you try to improve something ('WHY WON'T YOU LET ME HELP YOU??") isn't even worth the benefits of switching.

Saw this first hand (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | about 5 years ago | (#28667423)

Last year I helped a 20 person company transition from Exchange to Google Apps. Technically everything went fine, but once the transition was done, everyone refused to use the Google's web interface even though some of them used gmail for personal use! We wound up using IMAP through Outlook to bring everyone back to where they had been before.

I was sitting down with one woman who just flat out refused to do anything different. I was in the middle of setting up Outlook for her, and we had the following conversation:

Her: Outlook is so slow- the messages take forever to load!
Me: Well, you don't get that with a web-based system, because it is much more efficient at getting to your messages faster than your single hard drive
Her: Oh. Now, is there a way I can put the same message in multiple folders without making a duplcate?
Me: Actually, with Gmail you can use labels to assign one message to multiple labels, making organization much easier
Her: Oh.

It went on like this for awhile, and at the end of the day, gmail clearly did everything she wanted outlook to do, but she still refused to use anything different.

Google's biggest challenge is not a technical one- it's a marketing one. Google has to convince everyone that they have a product that really is better. It's not impossible, but it will take longer than it should :)

Re:Saw this first hand (1)

oiron (697563) | about 5 years ago | (#28667603)

When we switched to Google Apps (from a horrendously configured sendmail), most people were stuck wanting to use outlook express. Let me say that again a bit louder in case it's unbelievable; OUTLOOK EXPRESS!

Now, most people have switched to the browser interface and/or Thunderbird. Those who haven't are either the newbies or... the PHBs...

Clearly these lusers are clueless (1)

heffrey (229704) | about 5 years ago | (#28667441)

I mean, they couldn't possibly choose Outlook over Google Apps because they might prefer it or because Outlook may be more effective for their needs. Instead of blaming the users for your failure perhaps Google would be better off looking inwards.

They may be hooked on it but ... still idiots (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 5 years ago | (#28667443)

I'm sure my company is no different from many others: despite having had Exchange/Outlook server running for close to 10 years, most people are &^%$* clueless as to its use. We even mandated that all conference rooms be reserved thru Outlook Calendar, but (especially upper management) people just plain don't do so. And I've tried to suggest that people learn to put their personal schedule (vacation, trips, etc) and their personal calendar, AND that managers learn to *look* at their staffs' calendars ,but not a chance.
So we plod along with a tool that nobody is willing to learn how to use.

Outlook has ton of features (1, Troll)

Paul Carver (4555) | about 5 years ago | (#28667445)

I've never used Google Apps, but I've used Gmail and it doesn't hold a candle to Outlook in terms of features. The ability to search all mail quickly is a great feature, but that's just one feature compared to dozens if not hundreds of features that Outlook has that Gmail lacks.

There is no free mail client that comes anywhere close to the configurability of Outlook. I use Outlook at work and Thunderbird at home and I'm constantly frustrated by the unconfigurable straitjacket of Thunderbird. I suppose the classic open source answer is that if Thunderbird doesn't do what I want I should shut up and code the features myself or write a mail client from scratch. The non-zealot answer is just to use Outlook because it works well and is extremely configurable.

You can do the same with Outlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667465)

You can just outsource Exchange and pay for the IT service.

Intertia and... (1)

wampus (1932) | about 5 years ago | (#28667475)

Do Google apps plug into our existing AD infrastructure? Can I book a conference room and phone bridge with it? What about voting?

Re:Intertia and... (2, Informative)

Macfox (50100) | about 5 years ago | (#28667593)

Yes, the premier edition does have this ability to leverage an external directory. Many of the edu users make good use of this feature. Resource calendars are also supported in the premier edition.

Zimbra instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28667495)

Outlook + Exchange isn't really about the email side. Heck, Postfix and Courier IMAP do that better than Exchange for free.

It is about the Enterprise Calendaring. That's the killer app part when combined with Outlook. Individual calendaring is trivial and done well enough all over the place. Enterprise calendaring is where you can see other peoples' free/busy status and confidently schedule meetings without asking 10 people their availability.

Zimbra Network Edition, NE, (paid) does enterprise calendaring and many other things, while integrating with Outlook. Further, you can place 2x and more users on the same server infra as Exchange. Zimbra Community Edition, CE, doesn't support Outlook interfaces for Calendaring at all, but everything else works fairly well with Outlook. My experience with Thunderbird and Zimbra calendaring is read-only, no write. The web interface rocks for everything, so many of your users won't need to use MS-Outlook to be productive. CE is free.

Lots of extras included with Zimbra - Jabber/IM, Shared calendars, shared contacts, and a few other things that aren't worth using for most companies like a document store and highly simplified wiki. The alternatives like Alfresco and MediaWiki are 1,000x better.

Either Zimbra edition fits into your existing LDAP infrastructure since it is OpenLDAP or you can let Zimbra be the primary LDAP with or without replication. Samba and POSIX accounts can be supported too. While it isn't SSO, it is single password, which is a good start for free.

For small companies, Zimbra can be run in a VM without any performance issues. We use Xen and 1.2GB or RAM. It can scale to 20,000+ users. Many Universities use Zimbra for staff and student email.

I'd say: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28667541)

Google Apps being featureless crap, even worse than Outlook, being pointless webapps instead of real apps, and not hosted on their own servers, is the main factor holding business from using them. ^^
There being no advantage over Outlook being the other one.

(And I hate Outlook just as much as IE, which I had to get webapps working on for five years. So I am really the furthest away from an Outlook fanboy. ^^)
(I also think Google deserves the success they have. But not the success that the shill who wrote TFA wishes them to have. :)

Re:I'd say: (1)

CatoNine (638960) | about 5 years ago | (#28667583)

I agree. Why would I want to sit behind my fine 3 Ghz PC to click on some slowly refreshing web pages? Google: Nice going, but you'll have to make some applications that run *locally* at full speed. (And are installed automatically, of course...) Cheers, Richard

A better tool (2)

jamesl (106902) | about 5 years ago | (#28667543)

... employees unwillingness to give up a tool that's so familiar.

Perhaps it's due to employees unwillingness to give up a tool that works so well. And which gets better with every new release.

Tried getting away, but eventually gave in (2)

brainee28 (772585) | about 5 years ago | (#28667551)

I wanted to get away from Exchange. So I put in HP Openmail (Samsung Contact). That works for a few years until my users crashed my server (management refused to allow me to place limits on mailboxes, so this is what happens). After the crash, I put up a Postfix IMAP server and used Mozilla Thunderbird. What I found was that even though my users essentially use the email portions of Outlook and not the other collaborative features (some use the Contacts and Calendars, but not with any critical data), they still wanted Outlook. Daily I would hear complaints about how they hated using Mozilla, and eventually, we put Exchange 2007 and Outlook back in.

I think what happened is that many companies put in Exchange without understanding whether or not their company would really use all the collaborative features with Outlook. I'm willing to be many of them only really use the email portions, like mine does. Had my company started out with using just a simple POP3/IMAP server, then we might be using something like Google right now. But because we started out with the "defacto" standard, we setup the wrong expectation. This is what will be tough for Google; trying to get existing users to switch.

I agree that the Outlook plugin was probably not the best thing Google did, but it may be the only way Google can start transitioning people over to their services.

Happened here with a different solution (4, Interesting)

Hamfist (311248) | about 5 years ago | (#28667585)

We migrated to in-house Zimbra from a simple sendmail server (500 accounts), which has worked exceptionally well. We had quite a bit of pushback from die-hard Outlook people. We adopted a policy that all new hires would get Zimbra and a business case would have to be presented to get Outlook for that user. We also dont support any of the sharing features via Outlook, and all new training material is for Zimbra and not Outlook. We also chose a few high profile individuals and helped them become more efficient with Zimbra to help spead the word. We still have about 50% of the user base on Outlook, POPing off of Zimbra. We expect this number to dwindle as our users decide to start leveraging sharing.

A mixed mode can be supported, and its probably the only way to move away from a deeply entrenched tech like Outlook. Baby steps are required.

There's an App for That (3, Interesting)

alexburke (119254) | about 5 years ago | (#28667633)

Right here [google.com] .

Quoting the Google:

Now businesses can run Microsoft Outlook on Google Apps instead of Microsoft Exchange, so they can achieve the cost savings, security and reliability of Google Apps while employees use the interface they prefer for email, contacts and calendar.

Oh, and it works with all editions of Google Apps, both free and paid, and it costs $0 extra.

You're welcome.

Clippy? (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | about 5 years ago | (#28667639)

..employees' unwillingness to give up a tool that's so familiar.

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