Oracle Out, Google In At Berkeley Lab

4,000 employees at DOE research facility will have new calendaring system when they show up for work Monday.
In a major endorsement for Google's cloud computing strategy, one of the government's top research facilities is set to throw the switch this weekend on an employee-wide migration to the search giant's online Calendar software.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, in Berkeley Calif., will move its 4,000 workers to the Google system after ditching Oracle's server-based calendaring and collaboration software. Berkeley labs has previously ported many other desktop tools, such as e-mail and messaging, to Google Apps.

IT managers at Berkeley said Google's hosted approach to collaboration software offers numerous advantages over traditional client-server setups.

"It does not require any installation of software, and is easy to access with a Web browser or mobile devices from anywhere in the world," IT staff at Berkeley told staffers in a memo to help them prepare for Monday's migration. "It complements and tightly integrates with other Google Apps. You can utilize the same Contacts list, create calendar events from e-mails, and respond to calendar invitations in Gmail," the memo said.

"If you're already familiar with personal Google Calendar, keep in mind that the version we are deploying has numerous features designed for businesses which are not available in the personal version," the IT staff noted. The business versions of Google Apps differ from the personal editions mostly in that they contain more advanced security and management features.

Beyond accessibility and simplicity, cost was also likely a factor in Berkeley Labs' decision to move off Oracle, known for its pricey enterprise software, to Google's cloud platform.

Google offers the business version of Google Apps, which includes Gmail, Groups, Sites, Docs, Video, and Calendar, for $50 per user, per year. That means Berkeley Labs, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the University of California, Berkeley, could run all its desktop services on Google for the modest price of $200,000 per year.

By comparison, Oracle priced its Beehive collaboration suite at $120 per user, per year, when it introduced the software in late 2008. At that price, Berkeley would have to shell out $480,000 annually for an all-Oracle suite of desktop tools.

Still, not everyone in the University of California system is convinced Google Apps is sufficiently robust for large enterprise use. Administrators at UC-Davis earlier this year nixed a move to Gmail, citing security concerns.