Analyst group Gartner has given a thumbs up to use of Google’s Gmail service within the enterprise.
Microsoft Exchange/Outlook has been the dominant force in corporate email services for several years as IT administrators moved away from Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise.
But Gartner now says the enterprise flavour of Google's Gmail should be considered a mainstream email service “capable of competing head-to-head with Microsoft”.
Gartner said organisations with complex requirements would likely stick with the incumbents, as Google had a track record of only updating its software with features that applied to the broadest set of users rather than specific users.
Matthew Cain, research vice president at Gartner said this would prevent banks from deploying Gmail as it may not provide the system surveillance tools required in such a highly regulated industry.
“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,” Cain 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.”
The rivalry between Microsoft and Google would “make it difficult for other suppliers to compete directly in the cloud email and collaboration space", he noted.
Gartner tracks Gmail’s enterprise email market share – those with over 5,000 seats - at only one percent. That said, cloud or ‘hosted’ enterprise email only represents between three and four percent of the wider enterprise market.
The analyst group expects one in five corporate inboxes to be using a hosted solution by the end of 2016. More than half of enterprise organisations will be using cloud email by the end of 2020, Gartner predicts.
Cain said the most prudent approach for large organisations would be to perform one more upgrade to on-premise email systems, taking them through to around 2014, before adopting hosted email services.