In last week's post, where I suggested that nearly any organization could run on the Google Apps Gmail service, I stirred up quite a range of comments. TechRepublic members highlighted issues with intellectual property, total cost of management, policy, and administration. This is one of the pleasures of blogging on this site; I can get a slice of every segment of IT to comment on how something like an off-site cloud provider would impact their technological landscape.
My take on Gmail as a provided e-mail solution is go for it! I think it is a no-brainer for some scenarios, such as in the case of academia, where there has been the greatest push to adopt this model for messaging. Colleges and universities (as well as many larger companies) have one very strong building block in place to make the transition to a cloud-messaging service easy -– a well-defined cost allocation model. Beyond all else, the dollars have to make sense to go to something like Google Apps. In the case of the $50 per mailbox per year cost, that can be very easily passed on to a student as a technology fee. For large companies, a cost allocation for technological services like numbers that are simple to work with. Calculating cost for Exchange varies widely by size of organization, type of Microsoft licensing in use, server architecture, and e-mail provisioning policy -– namely storage allocation. Very few organizations of any size will provide every employee over 7 GB of storage in an Exchange environment. I'm not saying it isn't possible with Exchange; I'm just saying the costs go up quickly when the storage costs are considered.
Now that I think that I've explained why Google Apps make sense, I need to issue a preface to the other important point should you be considering at migration. This is a classic example of having to identify the differences of manage and control. You cannot control the Gmail service -– you can manage it however. You can control your Exchange implementation as well as manage it. Talk to any good technical project manager about learning the differences between manage and control. Jumping to a cloud application takes some, if not all, of the control out of the internal IT.
That aside, I still feel that cloud applications will be a big hit. The Google Apps messaging segment may be the first clear-cut example of a traditional IT stronghold being sent to the cloud.
Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.