Gmail is Now a Viable Alternative to Microsoft in the Enterprise Email Market

After being in the market for five years, Google’s enterprise Gmail is building momentum with commercial organizations with more than 5,000 seats, and it now presents a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Online and other cloud email services, according to Gartner. You can access the media release issued by the company here.

“Gmail should now be considered a mainstream cloud email supplier,” said Matthew Cain, research vice president at Gartner. “While Gmail’s enterprise email market share currently hovers around 1 percent, it has close to half of the market for enterprise cloud email”.

For most organizations, performing one more on-premises upgrade, which will take an organization through 2014, is the most prudent approach, believes Cain. “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,” he adds.

Points to Ponder

— While cloud email is still in its infancy, Cain says that at 3 per cent to 4 per cent of the overall enterprise email market, it can be expected to be a growth industry, reaching 20 per cent of the market by year-end 2016, and 55 per cent by year-end 2020.

— Other than Microsoft Exchange, Google Gmail is the only email system that has prospered in the enterprise space over the past several years. Other enterprise email providers — Novell GroupWise and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino — have lost market momentum, Cisco closed its cloud email effort and VMware’s Zimbra is only now refocusing on the enterprise space.

— Google focuses on capabilities that will have the broadest market uptake. However, this one solution fits everybody approach may not work for everybody, especially enterprises with very specific email requirements, that cannot just be gotten off the shelf. Banks, for example, may require surveillance capabilities that Google is unlikely to build into Gmail given the limited appeal.

— Large organizations with complex email requirements  report that Google is resistant to feature requests that would be applicable to only a small segment of its customers.

— While Google is good at taking direction and input on front-end features, it is more resistant to the back-end feature requests that are important to larger enterprises.

— Large system integrators and enterprises report that Google’s lack of transparency in areas such as continuity, security and compliance can thwart deeper relationships.


Matthew Cain  (Research vice president, Gartner):  The intense competition between Microsoft and Google will make both vendors stronger and enable them to apply cloud expertise to other enterprise cloud endeavors. The rivalry will make it difficult for other suppliers to compete directly in the cloud email and collaboration space.

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