Oops. A little more than a week after I mused that enterprises should start investigating the Gmail portion of Google Apps as a Microsoft Exchange replacement, Google proved me wrong. David Berlind noted in a Tech Radar blog post that the Gmail IMAP interface took a vacation yesterday, meaning that he couldn't access his e-mail via Microsoft Outlook. Even the Ajax features within the standard interface for Gmail weren't home. He says,
But, what are the implications? Somewhere at some business where all the users were tying into a Google Apps-based version of Gmail, someone's phone probably started ringing off the hook. Maybe it was the CFO or the CEO who set his/her entire company up with Google Apps because of how easy it is to do (it's VERY easy) and how s/he's avoiding all sorts of costs associated with running something like Microsoft's Exchange Server or Lotus Notes (including the people needed to run those things).
But today comes the flip side to the argument. Something goes haywire at Google (there was no announcement, warning, or post to the official Gmail blog before this happened) and what would that CFO or CEO do next? Basically, there's nothing s/he can do about it except wait until Google fixes it (I thought of switching my clients to Gmail's still-active POP interface until the IMAP interface was fixed, but that is most definitely not a good idea).
Even more of a challenge for CxO's taking the Google, Salesforce, et alia shortcut (a shortcut I still favor, by the way), is what happens if applications like Gmail and Salesforce are integrated into each other in a way that a failure of one stifles the functionality of the other.
All good points. My post last week acknowledged that there would be bumps in the road:
To be truthful, I'm not convinced it's ["Google Exchange"] fully baked yet. In the updated version of my Google Apps report (released today), I say, "GAPE is on the road to becoming a credible replacement for Microsoft Exchange if an enterprise wants to stop paying for Exchange server and CALs licenses but wants to keep Microsoft Office." Notice that I don't say "is a credible replacement," but instead say "on the road to becoming a credible replacement."
That's the problem with these new technologies. They're never perfect out of the gate. I remember when LANs came in in the 1980's, and at that time they were a joke. They went down all the time, they weren't very scalable, and they looked like they'd never be a replacement for ubiquitous (at the time) mainframes and minicomputers. But Banyan and Novell worked at it, and they became solid technologies. The real trick is figuring out when the inflection point has occurred. With Gmail, it looks like it hasn't arrived yet.