This happened earlier in the year, finally getting around to writing some notes on it – you can read more here. The numbers I found were that they were to save about $230k a year, mainly by reducing the need for two administrators.
I’ve used Outlook and Exchange for years, and about all I can say is that it was better than Lotus Notes. That’s not a knock, it works well enough and I’m used to it (the Outlook part). The admin side has always seemed (saying this with no Exchange experience) complicated, and when you combine virus scanning, email archiving, and all the rest I can see that it might keep someone busy. And of course if it takes one person, you need a backup person for illness and vacation times.
Saving $230k a year is definitely a nice win in the current economy. But what about in a better economy? Is this one of the things you do during lean times like eating at home instead of going out to dinner? Or is it really a lifestyle change that just makes sense regardless of whether business is booming (or tax dollars are flowing).
As long as it all works, it’s a smart move. But…it’s when it doesn’t work that you start to sweat. It’s the same ‘in the cloud’ discussion we’ve been having for a while, what happens when the cloud fails? When you own the hardware and pay the team you have a sense of control, and can at least see what is going on. If it happens to a hosted solution you’re betting that because they are big, they’ve invested in triple redundancy and have a robust DR plan in place. Even if they tell you that though, you still worry about the rainy day.
I have no reason to think Google can’t provide the uptime, but if something happens, what happens to the city government? Shut down for a day? Running a local copy using Gears (and is that a good plan if so?).
I’d be curious if the Google price was fair, or just the winning bid to get the business. If they really can provide the same services at less than half the cost, I think that’s a challenge for Exchange.
I think they made the best choice they could and I’m fine with that, definitely interesting to watch to see what evolves.