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Gmail now a viable alternative to Microsoft, says Gartner

Cliff Saran

Gartner is urging CIOs to give Gmail serious consideration as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange in the enterprise.

Google's enterprise Gmail is building momentum with commercial organisations that have more than 5,000 seats, and it now presents a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Online and other cloud e-mail services, according to Gartner.

"While Gmail's enterprise e-mail market share currently hovers around 1%, it has close to half of the market for enterprise cloud e-mail," said Gartner research vice-president, Matthew Cain. "While cloud e-mail is still in its infancy, we expect it to be a growth industry, reaching 20% of the market by year end 2016, and 55% by year end 2020."

But Gartner warned that Google has focused on the mass market rather than the needs of the enterprise. Large organisations with complex e-mail requirements, such as financial institutions, report that Google is resistant to feature requests that would be applicable to only a small segment of its customers, it said. Banks, for example, may require surveillance capabilities that Google is unlikely to build into Gmail given the limited appeal, the analyst warned.

Cain said it expected users to do one more major upgrade of Microsoft Exchange (or another on-premise e-mail platform) before moving to cloud e-mail. "A less risky approach to cloud e-mail is via a hybrid deployment, where some mailboxes live in the cloud and some are located on premises. This hybrid model plays to Microsoft's strengths given its vast dominance of the on-premises e-mail market," he said.



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