Gmail now 'viable alternative' to Microsoft, says Gartner

Google's cloud email catching up on its main rival, say analysts...

Google's cloud email catching up on its main rival, say analysts...

Google's Gmail is now a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Online and other cloud email services, according to analyst house Gartner, which said the enterprise-focused cloud email package is gaining momentum among commercial organisations with more than 5,000 seats.

Gmail

Gmail is gaining momentum among commercial organisations of more than 5,000 employeesImage: Google

Matthew Cain, research vice president at Gartner, said while Gmail's enterprise email market share currently hovers around one per cent, this accounts for half of the market for enterprise cloud email.

While cloud email is still in its infancy, Gartner expects it will account for more than half of the email market by the end of 2020.

Cain said that apart from Exchange, Gmail is the only email package that has done well in the enterprise market recently, while others such as Novell GroupWise and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino have "lost market momentum".

But Google still has a way to go, the Gartner report said. Because Google focuses on features for the mass market, large organisations with complex requirements - such as financial institutions - have found Google is resistant to requests that would only apply to a few customers.

"Banks, for example, may require surveillance capabilities that Google is unlikely to build into Gmail given the limited appeal," the report said.

Similarly, the report said large system integrators and enterprises report that Google's lack of transparency in areas such as continuity, security and compliance can "thwart deeper relationships".

Cain added that for most organisations, one more on-premises upgrade to take them through to 2014 is "the most prudent approach".

"A less-risky approach to cloud email is via a hybrid deployment, where some mailboxes live in the cloud and some are located on-premises. This hybrid model plays to Microsoft's strengths given its vast dominance of the on-premises email market," Cain said in a statement.

Even so, Google is working on Gmail's offline capabilities too, earlier this month unveiling plans to let people use some Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar functionality when they're offline.