Cloud wars – Google strikes at Microsoft’s Exchange empire

10 Dec 2010

Google has launched a new cloud-based email business continuity solution based on Postini that appears to threaten Microsoft’s on-premises email system Exchange. Google reasons that if a firm’s on-premises email fails, it has the solution.

The move appears to be a response of sorts to many of the strategic moves Microsoft’s been making in recent months. The Seattle software giant has been working away on its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) for a number of years but stepped its cloud activity up a gear with the launch of Office 365 and more recently, Lync.

Office 365 provides Microsoft users with cloud-based versions of popular Office products like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, while Lync is a unified communications system that works through Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Exchange systems.

One of Microsoft’s mainstays in the business space has always been Exchange, which is used by SMEs and large corporate firms across the world. With Google’s launch of Google Message Continuity it appears to be striking at this core market with a view to making it easy for businesses to then transition to productivity platforms like Google Apps.

Power of the cloud

Google acquired Postini in 2007 and incorporated its cloud-based spam and virus filtering, email archiving and encryption services into its enterprise products.

Rajen Sheth, group product manager, Google Apps, says the internet giant could see that the power of the cloud was not only increased productivity and collaboration but also security and compliance tools for organisations.

Google Message Continuity is a cloud-based email continuity solution that ensures firms always have access to their email.

“Organisations running on-premises email systems, such as Microsoft Exchange, can run the risk of losing email access — or even worse, their email data — during a server outage, which can impact employee productivity, revenue and even company credibility.

“Research suggests that a 500-person company could lose nearly $90,000 annually due to email outages, which a continuity solution could help prevent,” Sheth said.

Google Message Continuity works by replicating email accounts hosted on Microsoft Exchange Servers in the cloud, using Gmail, Calendar and Contacts.

“If the Microsoft Exchange Server fails, or requires scheduled maintenance or downtime, all you have to do is log into Gmail and continue regular, up-to-date email communication through Google.

“Since Gmail and Microsoft Exchange are constantly synchronised with each other, you can seamlessly switch from one email environment to the other. Additionally, features such as synchronous replication that are built into Google’s architecture help ensure that your data won’t be lost at any point while being delivered to you with maximum efficiency.

It appears the real aim is to win more enterprise customers for Google Apps as Sheth explains the new continuity email product can help companies transition to Google Apps.

“Since Microsoft Exchange and Gmail are always in sync with one another, there’s no need to migrate email data when eventually deploying Google Apps. With Gmail, Calendar and Contacts available, users can get familiar with these cloud services without having to abruptly stop using their regular email system,” Sheth said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years