Boston switches from Exchange to Gmail

googlelogoBoston is replacing its on-premise Exchange messaging platform with Gmail, part of Google Apps, for over 20,000 city employees and with some ambitious targets…

Reported in the Boston Globe. Seems that money was the primary factor, followed by simplified terms of service:

It will cost Boston around $800,000 to move over to Gmail, Google Docs for word processing, and Google’s cloud service for storing documents. But by dropping some Microsoft products, the city government will save at least $280,000 a year.

“The number one reason that organizations are going to Google is price,” said Matt Cain, an analyst at the tech research firm Gartner Inc. What’s more, Cain said, Google’s contract terms are much simpler than dealing with Microsoft.

Microsoft Windows will continue to be used as the desktop OS. Boston was estimated to be spending $100 per employee per year on Microsoft software. Google Apps costs approximately $50 per user per year.

It’s believed the transition will take a year. That doesn’t sound very long if people have been used to using Microsoft Office and Outlook on the desktop. Dropping Microsoft Office for Google Docs is a bold move and document conversion could be challenging and disruptive.

“Anyone with a current Gmail account will not have much trouble transitioning,” said David Nero, director of technology for Boston.

That’s an interesting comment to make. Presumably referring to people using Gmail for personal uses. And that’s just the email element. I wonder if any testing was performed on moving completely from Microsoft Office to Google Docs. I would guess a significant percentage of their archives will be in the older Office file formats that are not supported by Google Docs. Will try and keep an eye on how this one progresses…