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Offline Gmail Isn’t the Answer to Enterprise Adoption

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

I was astounded to read C.G.Lynch’s article on the CIO.COM blog – ‘Offline Gmail: Now What Excuse Do You Have, Old School?‘  It’s either aimed squarely at SMEs, or it’s just baloney.

Perhaps Lynch hasn’t read the article, ‘The case against Web apps (Five reasons why Web-based development might not be the best choice for your enterprise)‘, by Neil McAllister on the CIO.COM’s sister site InfoWorld.com?

The thing is, Gmail and other Cloud-based email have issues beyond offline usage.

  • Email is at the core of busines. It’s the ‘killer-app’ of the modern enterprise. But most enterprises are used to running it themselves, sometimes as a cottage industry. Not all enterprises are ready to manage a vendor for this scale of service, despite the in-roads of ITIL over the last decade. Vendor-management practices need to be in ship-shape before handing over the central communication hub of your business to a vendor
  • Security – yes, security! Data Breaches are now reputed to cost, on average, $6.6M (according to George Hulme in his article ‘Cost Of Data Breaches Keeps Going Up’ – in the case of using cloud-based email, how will you know you have had a data breach, unless the vendor tells you? SAS70 certification or not, relinquishing operational control for email means that your level of protection is based on trust alone. I think this is OK for most organizations, but heavily regulated industries, such as Financial Services, will still require a lot more convincing
  • Web apps are still not as usable as desktop apps, as a general rule. Even with Ajax and hi-speed connections, experienced users of an app will always be faster in their dexterous use than a web app can cope with. Client machines have stacks of processing power and can keep way ahead of their users’ master strokes. Unless you’re a real novice, Gmail, although technically brilliant, is much slower to use than even Outlook 2000
  • These solutions do assume a capable internet connection. How often is that 100% of the case? A link to a Cloud-based server, often across a public path over contintental boundaries, has a much greater probability of interruption or failure than one over a private network, especially for customer sites that are remote

To put the record straight, I am a fan of Gmail, Yahoo! Mail et al. I use them all the time. Not all enterprise environments are ready, yet, for Cloud-based email (and vice versa). I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that caution is just old-school thinking when there are real challenges to face.

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Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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2 Comments

  1. Asif Shah

    This comes down to an economic issue for a lot of companies now, doesn’t it? If enterprises can overcome the security issues (which are often internal) then Gmail and others have a real chance of entering the enterprise. I will support such a move.

     
    • simonstapleton

      @Asif – yes I believe that is the case. One other point to add is that once you give email over to Google or whoever, you’ve lost control of its destiny forever. You become a consumer of a commoditized product.
      See my post ‘Dark Clouds Ahead? A Warning About Cloud Computing’ for more on this.

      Thanks for your comment!

       

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