Google's e-mail and office software is a genuine--and much cheaper--alternative to Microsoft for business users, according to UK IT chiefs.
The reaction is in response to the launch this week of enterprise versions of Google's online software. The Google Apps Premier Edition will cost $50 per year for every end-user and offers email, word processing and spreadsheets, with 24-hour phone support and 10GB of storage per user.
Three-quarters of silicon.com's 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel said they would consider using the enterprise version of Google's software in their corporate IT infrastructure.
Mark Foulsham, IT director of eSure, said most people currently use only about 10 per cent of the functionality of existing Microsoft Office applications.
He said: "I am considering these [Google] applications. Any alternative to Microsoft which is less complex and provides for the majority of end-users' functional needs without the baggage of Microsoft software is a good thing. There has to be balance between usability and integration with existing applications though and that may be the big deciding factor when businesses are considering a Google adoption."
Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director of publisher Hachette Filipacchi UK, said: "Google Apps provide ease of access and transportability of documents between home, work, or wherever. The only aspect that I have not yet seen an answer is the need to provide edit-ability while not online - working on a plane or train for instance. Otherwise, it's a long-held dream coming true."
Google's applications offer "real value" for companies, according to Paul Broome, CTO at 192.com. "We want to concentrate on the apps that make us money not running our own electronic postal and digital typing pool," he said.
Ade Bajomo, head of IT strategy and systems at Pearl Life, said Google Apps will be appropriate for regional offices with few staff and basic IT requirements as it will cut down set-up time and operational costs. He added a note of caution, however.
Bajomo said: "We would probably take a wait and see approach to ensure that they have the infrastructure to deliver the appropriate level of service and security commensurate with the expectation of our organization."
But not everyone is convinced by Google's enterprise credentials.
Graham Yellowley, director of technology services at investment bank Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International, said: "We do retain a large control over the Microsoft Office applications and subsequent data deployed in-house, Google applications are outside that control. The company policies, such as the information security policy, will need to be extensively reviewed before we even think about Google applications."
Steve Clarke, head of internal computing at AOL UK, added: "I'd still be very nervous about having a lot of corporate data up online rather than sitting safely on a SAN [storage area network] within my data center."
Today's CIO Jury was...
Ade Bajomo, head of IT strategy and systems, Pearl Life
Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi UK
Paul Broome, CTO, 192.com
Steve Clarke, head of internal computing, AOL UK
Mark Foulsham, IT director, eSure
Paul Haley, IT director, University of Aberdeen
Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Group
Stuart Marshall, CIO, Investcorp
Nick Masterson-Jones, IT director, Voca
Jacques Rene, CTO, Ascend
Graham Yellowley, director of technology services, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International