Gmail is ready for enterprise IT spotlight, Gartner says

Google Inc.’s Gmail is officially a “mainstream cloud e-mail” service on par with Microsoft Exchange Online, according to a Gartner Research Inc report.

The research firm said that Google’s enterprise Gmail service has amassed more than 5,000 contracts with businesses and holds nearly half the market for enterprise cloud e-mail deployments. That cloud-based e-mail market, Gartner said, will account for 20 per cent of the overall enterprise e-mail deployments by the end of 2016 and 55 per cent of all deployments by year-end 2020.

Matthew Cain, a research vice-president at Gartner, said that Google has achieved strong adoption rates in the enterprise space despite the fact that some large system integrators and enterprise customers have been critical of the search giant’s transparency in areas such as continuity, security and compliance. Still, he said, Google has historically done a good job listening to input on front-end features and implementing them into future products.

“In 2011, Google demonstrated that it was listening and responding to enterprise requirements and we believe that will continue for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Cain said that Gmail, which has only been around for about five years, stands with Microsoft Exchange Online as the only two cloud-based e-mail services to prosper in the enterprise space. With the departure of Cisco Systems Inc. from the space, and the decline of Novell GroupWise and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, the Microsoft-Google rivalry will make it difficult for other offerings to compete, he said.

He added that a “less-risky approach” to cloud e-mail is a hybrid deployment, which features hosted and on-premise inboxes. Microsoft, Cain said, currently has the advantage in this area and this will be a focus for Google in the coming months.

Before moving to cloud-based e-mail services such as Gmail, Cain said, companies must ensure that the offering meets application integration requirements, as well as compliance and e-discovery needs.

Organizations with “complex integration requirements, rich compliance needs, geographic sensitivity and extreme security needs” should probably avoid cloud e-mail at the present time, he added.

Google has added several new features to Gmail in recent months, including the ability for Chrome browser users to access Gmail when they’re not connected to the Internet.

Users will need to install individual offline-access applications from the Chrome Web Store to add these capabilities to their browser. The Gmail application is called Gmail Offline and is based on the Gmail application for tablets, which works both with and without Internet access. Docs and Calendar will each have its own offline-access application on the Chrome Web Store.

The offline capabilities will become available both for individuals who use Gmail, Docs and Calendar, as well as for organizations who use them as part of the Google Apps collaboration and communication suite in workplaces and educational institutions.

– with files from Juan Carlos Perez

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