GM set to move 100,000 to Google mail and collaboration


By David Terrar, CEO of D2C Limited, Co-founder of Cloud Advocates

The use of email and exchanging documents and spreadsheets has been the mainstay of business communication and collaboration for the past two or three decades, and Microsoft's Office family has been ruling the roost for some time. In contrast on the consumer side, our personal lives have been significantly influenced by the Internet age, and it's second nature for most people to pick a cloud based email service such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Google's Gmail, or a service that's bundled with our home Internet access package (and they probably don't even think of it as a cloud service - it's just the way you do it!).

However, when we go to the office we are most likely to be using Microsoft Exchange as the company email hub and shared calendar system installed and maintained on a server somewhere by IT, with Word and Excel as de facto standards, although some larger corporates might be using products like IBM's Lotus Notes as an alternative. Some IT departments are adopting cloud infrastructure with their traditional office software to make cost savings, but we are beginning to see more and more large organizations taking cloud offerings seriously and understanding the real savings that can be made.

Last week General Motors signed a deal with Google to provide email and online-collaboration software to more than 100,000 employees. The contract has conditions which Google will have to meet, but assuming it goes through, this will be their largest deal to date. GM will be switching away from Lotus Notes, and they considered Microsoft's Office 365 cloud offering as well as Google Apps. The Google product provides a complete email and calendar solution, Google documents and spreadsheets for collaboration, and more. Google has over 4 million customers using it, although the majority of those are small businesses.

The key point here is that a Fortune 500 corporate with a 100,000 users is making the switch, following in the footsteps of Dutch retailer Royal Ahold NV with 55,000 users, Jaguar Land Rover with 15,000 users, Rentokill Initial with 35,000 users and the University of Portsmouth with 30,000 users. This highlights a serious challenge to Microsoft's hold on the traditional office productivity market. If the cloud offerings are safe enough for the likes of GM and Jaguar Land Rover, then whatever size of organization you run, make sure you or your IT department consider the benefits of following suit.

David Terrar is a consultant and software developer who specialises in the use of Cloud applications and social media in business. He is a co founder of Cloud Advocates, an association of consultants who aim to demystify the Cloud and provide pragmatic help and advice for businesses, organizations and accounting practices. To find out more, visit

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