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11/12/2009
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Why Jaguar Land Rover Chose Google Apps

A customer success story spotlights the pitched battle among online apps.

Jaguar Land Rover was the perfect opportunity for Google. Ford had sold the automaker to Tata Motors for $2.3 billion in 2008. As Jaguar Land Rover began to plan how it would extract its IT systems from Ford's U.K.-based data center--including Outlook e-mail running on Microsoft Exchange servers--in walked Google.

"It presented a one-off opportunity to rather than just copy and clone what e-mail looked like under the Ford ownership, to do something different and innovative with a valid financial business case," says Jeremy Vincent, CIO at Jaguar Ford, who announced the Google Apps implementation on Oct. 22.

It's just one example of Google stealing a customer away from the two most popular e-mail platforms, Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes. Google is trying to build its momentum in this area, and on Thursday presented a Webinar featuring James Ferreira, CIO for the New Mexico State Attorney General's office, who recently moved 320 e-mail accounts from Exchange to Google Apps, which includes Gmail.

At 15,000 users, the Jaguar deal is much bigger. Other recent enterprise wins include the U.K.-based conglomerate Rentokil Initial, which announced Oct. 12 its plan to replace 40 different types of e-mail systems across six divisions with 35,000 Google Apps accounts; Motorola's handset division, for 20,000 users; and Konica Minolta, for 7,000 users.

In a prepared statement, Rentokil Initial CIO Bryan Kinsella said Google Apps will let the company "overcome a wide range of technical and communication issues," and the "frustrations of not having access to a single company-wide e-mail address database will disappear."

Also in October, Google won a contract against Microsoft Exchange Online for 30,000 seats with the city of Los Angeles. Government is proving a good area for Google: other wins include the city of Orlando, for 3,000 seats moving off Lotus Notes/Domino, and 165 seats with the city of Canton, Ga.

But these organizations' choice of Google Apps (primarily for Gmail) says more about the state of the e-mail market than Google or Microsoft. In a world of instant messaging, social networking, and other new ways of communicating, e-mail has become a commodity.

"I've decided to dip my toe into the cloud, and deliberately I've taken a low-risk approach," says Jaguar Land Rover's Vincent. "There's going to be a big bang this month, and 15,000 users will be online with it at once. E-mail is like a commodity--different keystrokes and logic [than Outlook], but within a few days, everyone will get used to it."

Still, Vincent adds that Google Apps will provide "lots of added functionality around collaboration," and mimic the experience users have with their home computers. Many employees are already using Gmail at home, he notes, and users can create different email addresses that come into the same account.

The subscription model was also appealing, Vincent said. If staff levels change at any point, he can instantly make those adjustments to his Google Apps contract. While not providing specific of his deal with Google, Vincent said the savings in implementation and operations savings, compared with on-premises Exchange, were "significant."

Vincent said one area where Google can make some improvements is in data migration tools. While it did provide some, Jaguar Land Rover had to develop some of its own. For example, Google didn't offer a tool for migrating Outlook's task folder or PST files to Google Apps, so Jaguar Land Rover had to create its own.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on new software models. Download the report here (registration required).

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