The Google synchronization technology also adds a number of other features including access to the global access list and the ability to look up another user's free and busy time. And a migration tool lets users move their Exchange .PST file into Gmail, a process the company says takes two clicks.
"People need speed and for it to be the same, it has to look as feel like Outlook," says Chris Vander Mey, senior product manager at Google.
On the desktop, data is stored in an Outlook .pst file and Google retrieves data from that file. "We have built our own MAPI provider, and when messages come in from Outlook or from Google we bring them down over GDATA and send them into Outlook the same way Exchange would do it. We just change what is going out over the wire," says Vander Mey.
Of course that is when something is actually going out over the wire. Google has had a number of incidents of prolonged downtime recently.
Dave Girouard, president of Google's enterprise division, says he feels Google Apps is "more reliable than those [platforms] you can run and maintain yourself. We feel very good about uptime for Gmail, not to say we are perfect, but we believe we are more reliable in more places in the world than what you can build yourself."
Citing data from Forrester Research, Girouard says he thinks Google Apps is three to 20 times less expensive than competing platforms depending on what parts of Google Apps users have rolled out.
The Outlook synchronization tool represents another investment by Google in its enterprise collaboration tools. Google's enterprise division includes more than 1,000 employees, up from 20 in 2004. It provides hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, which is the only specific data Google will provide.
In addition, Google claims 1.75 million businesses have signed up for Google Apps with more than 15 million users on its cloud-based mail and collaboration platform.
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