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Erith Group turns to Google Apps in hour of need

Ian Grant

A demolition company saved itself from disaster when staff switched to Google Apps following a fire that destroyed the firm's IT facilities.

The Erith Group specialises in demolition, asbestos removal, remediation, waste recycling and haulage for the construction industry. IT manager Paul Driscoll ran an in-house IT operation that served the firm's 200 staff.

In September 2006 Driscoll read an internet news article about the US launch of Google Apps Premier Edition, a software suite that includes e-mail, calendar, documents and instant messaging for businesses, which uses the IT infrastructure that hosts Google's search engine.

Driscoll decided to test it for the Erith Group when Google launched it in the UK. During the trial, a fire left many of the staff without e-mail or computers. Fortunately a few had already signed up for the Google Apps trial and had already switched over to Google Mail. They were able to start work the next day as they could get their e-mail on any computer with an internet connection. Crucially no one lost any of their data.

The incident convinced the doubters to switch, and the product was fully implemented in September 2007. Since then staff have been able to access their work remotely and to use the collaboration features, which means everyone is always working on the latest version of a document.

The switch has also saved money. Erith now pays only £27 per account per year, and its e-mail storage capacity increased dramatically for free.





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