Nine months after Google daringly launched a sync tool to link its hosted Apps collaboration and communication suite with arch-rival Microsoft's Outlook PC software, results have been poor.
Google states that most organizations using the Outlook sync tool are very satisfied. However, IDG News Service, over the course of several weeks and even after enlisting the help of Google's public relations department, couldn't find one Google Apps administrator whose employer isn't a Google Apps reseller or integrator willing to speak favorably about the Outlook sync tool.
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Google maintains the product has accomplished its goal: to offer a viable option for organizations to continue using Outlook as a user front end after they switch communication servers from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. "Since Google added this plug in, demand for Google Apps has been increasing steadily," said Jim McNelis, CEO of Google Apps reseller and integrator Dito, which has implemented Google Apps for about 200 clients.
However, the story has played out differently for those unhappy IT managers for whom the Outlook plug-in, introduced with much fanfare in June 2009, has fallen short and caused their end-users to complain loudly.
In Oregon, Jake Harris, IT manager at Aisle7, regrets that he campaigned heavily in favor of his company switching from Exchange to Google Apps. He blames the Outlook sync tool. "If we weren't using Outlook, I think we'd be very happy customers, but the Outlook Sync [tool] is simply a debacle, and will probably result in us moving to a hosted Exchange solution," Harris said.
Aisle7, a provider of online and offline marketing services for retailers' wellness products, has had chronic problems with Outlook since moving its 41 users from an on-premise Exchange server to Google Apps last summer.
The problems have been caused by Google-acknowledged bugs, the inconvenience of missing Outlook features when used with Gmail, and random technical hiccups. "I'm tired of the headaches, and I'm quite excited about going back to something that's tried and true," said Harris, who is leaning toward replacing Apps with Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite, which includes hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and other Microsoft collaboration software.
There are other Google Apps administrators who are their wits' end regarding the Google Apps sync tool for Outlook, as evidenced by several threads in the official Apps Help discussion forum, such as the one labeled "Is Google Apps Sync Enterprise Ready?"
Google declined to give the size of the tool's installed base. Burton Group analyst Bill Pray suspects its adoption isn't very broad. Instead the tool is used tactically by IT departments to temporarily appease Outlook diehards and prevent them from torpedoing their company's move to Apps, before shepherding them over to the Gmail interface, he said.