Some large enterprises are seriously considering jumping from Exchange to Gmail, or already have. Here's why.
Classic cloud worries
In addition to responding to comparisons of the features in Google Apps and those in Outlook and Exchange, Google has had to allay general fears about the security, availability, uptime and privacy of email in the cloud.
Most organisations interviewed for this story that have adopted Google Apps say security is as good or better than what they had previously with on-premises email.
"Frankly, Google has a lot more resources than we do when it comes to security," Patel says.
"We have confidence that they're going to be able to manage that."
Patel has a single sign-on setup, taking advantage of integration capabilities between Sanmina-SCI's existing Active Directory infrastructure and Google Apps.
Google also offers encryption for data in transit and at rest.
Files are chopped up into pieces, encrypted and distributed across many storage devices.
"Unless you have all of the pieces and the tools to unencrypt them, you can't read anything. That's one of the things that impressed us," says Kevin Crawford, assistant general manager for the Los Angeles city government which recently completed a 2,500-user pilot of Google Apps for Business.
The municipality expects to save $5.5m over five years by migrating all of its 30,000 users from Novell's www.novell.com GroupWise to Google Apps.
"Our Number one consideration was cost," he says.
But Chicago State's Dillon remains skeptical.
"POP mail is not as secure as if you were using your own servers inside your own firewall, inside of your LDAP," she says.
It's not that Gmail is unsafe, she says, but it's less secure than what she feels she can achieve by controlling everything in-house.
Jacobs Engineering, which needs to protect sensitive client data, reviewed Google's security last year.
"At that point, 80 percent of our concerns were addressed by Google, but there were still those 20% where we said 'Hmm, I just don't know about that,'" Wright says.
"You just don't have visibility into the cloud."
Temple University's chief information security officer and the university counsel conducted an extensive review of Google Apps' security - and reached a different conclusion.
"They came back and said their security is as good as or better than ours," says Stahler.
Rentokil's Howe came to a similar conclusion.
"We believe it has improved our overall security in a significant way," he says.
A related security issue for Jacobs Engineering revolves around where its data is stored.
"We have some clients who are sensitive to geographic storage issues - where is my data, per country," Wright says.
Google says it can't guarantee that a given set of data stored by Google Apps will be maintained within the borders of a specific country.
NEXT PAGE: Availability and uptime