CommBank gives Google Apps thumbs down

update The Commonwealth Bank of Australia today confirmed it had evaluated Google's hosted office productivity suite and found it wanting. Google has for some time offered a number of online applications aimed at replicating the functionality of popular productivity suites such as Microsoft Office -- for example, providing e-mail, calendar, word processing and spreadsheet functionality.

update The Commonwealth Bank of Australia today confirmed it had evaluated Google's hosted office productivity suite and found it wanting.

Google has for some time offered a number of online applications aimed at replicating the functionality of popular productivity suites such as Microsoft Office -- for example, providing e-mail, calendar, word processing and spreadsheet functionality.

The search giant late last week bundled those products into its Google Apps Premier Edition package -- which businesses can use for US$50 a seat per year. But while Google has already named some large customers in the United States, one of Australia's largest enterprise IT shops -- the Commonwealth Bank -- still has reservations about the technology.

"It is true to say that at this time, there is insufficient product capability in the Google product to be adequate for us for our desktops," a spokesperson for the bank told ZDNet Australia this morning, without providing specifics.

"We will continue to talk to Google and see where that may lead," the spokesperson said following a report in the Australian Financial Review about the bank's move.

"But certainly for the moment we haven't been able to come to an agreement with them."

Google Australia declined to comment on the issue.

The Commonwealth Bank has more than 35,000 staff, according to its Web site. The IT function is run by group executive, Technology Services, Michael Harte. According to the bank's 2006 annual report, it's looking at reducing IT costs by approximately AU$200 million.

Google Apps not enterprise-ready
A report published by analyst group Gartner this week suggested Google Apps was a "disruptive" innovation that could coexist with Microsoft's Office suite.

Google Apps "makes it easy for people to collaborate in ways that Microsoft's products don't support," analysts Tom Austin, Matthew W. Cain and Michael A. Silver claimed.

And Google Apps' yearly price of US$50 per seat was much less than the US$122 per seat Gartner estimated companies were currently spending on e-mail systems with smaller storage capacity.

These facts combined with Google's "strong track record" in offering scalable, reliable and innovative services drove Gartner to predict Google Apps will be the first software as a service application businesses would -- over the next three years -- seriously consider deploying enterprise-wide.

CommBank gives Google Apps thumbs down: Inside Google Australia's office

However, Gartner warned IT managers that Google Apps was "not ready" for enterprise-wide deployments just yet -- it lacked key features such as offline availability of stored information. Also, the search giant's privacy policies, long-term road map and ability to comply with external messaging-related regulations had to be scrutinised.

Gartner recommended that users who were currently not served by in-house IT infrastructure, or who were likely to experiment on their own with the technology's collaboration features, could trial Google Apps.

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