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Boston Replacing Microsoft Exchange With Google Apps 251

netbuzz writes "The city of Boston, which employs 20,000 people, has become the latest large organization to switch from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. The city estimates that the move will save it $280,000 a year. Microsoft's reaction? 'We believe the citizens of Boston deserve cloud productivity tools that protect their security and privacy. Google's investments in these areas are inadequate, and they lack the proper protections most organizations require.' More and more customers aren't buying that FUD." Hopefully they'll be more satisfied than Los Angeles was (PDF).
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Boston Replacing Microsoft Exchange With Google Apps

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    What they should have said was, "We believe the citizens of Boston deserve the productivity gains that come from the ability to wildcard search through emails."

  • Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ziggitz ( 2637281 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:42PM (#43688907)
    Google apps aren't really that powerful, but then I've never considered any of Microsoft's office products to really be professional tools. Even in college when I wanted to produce papers I'd use some laTeX or DITA editor. Word, Excel and the rest always felt amateurish. If you're going to use poor amateurish WYSIWYG tools you might as well use the free ones.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

      by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:15PM (#43689219)

      Word is fairly underpowered for professional writing, but if you were an accountant, you'd be hard-pressed to find a replacement to Excel.

      Microsoft Office's professional products are more Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and Access. Word is just something to round out their offerings, an easy-to-use, amateurish but sufficiently featureful product that'll get their foot in the door.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Excel is pretty good. (I didn't know I could say anything nice about a Microsoft product.)
        If you walk past my office, and hear me swearing at my computer chances are I am using word. If you hear me saying "Stop fu*king helping me!" then you know for sure.
        It has gotten so bad that when i have to write documentation, I do all my writing in something simple like notepad++, then copy and paste into word. do a little formatting, maybe a screenshot or two, save and send. This method makes Word a lot less painfu
        • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Friday May 10, 2013 @06:02PM (#43689691)

          If you hear me saying "Stop fu*king helping me!" then you know for sure.

          You do know that you can customize features like the one you're bitching about? You do know you can turn them off, right? Indeed most of the things that people bitch about with Word are completely customizable. But don't let reality get in the way of your Fan Boi rant...

          • But don't let reality get in the way of your Fan Boi rant...

            You know what you call someone a fan boy, you lose all credibility.

            But for the record, I believe in using the best tool for the job. In my experience Word is almost never the best tool. The one time that it does beat other tools is when I need to pass around a document, with people making changes. (I think google Docs might be better for this, but company security policy prevents its use.) I have Linux machines, Windows machines, and Macs. How a

          • Can I turn off how terribly it reformats huge documents when you make minor changes?

            Word is *not* a large document publishing package.

            • Can I turn off how terribly it reformats huge documents when you make minor changes?

              This type of thing is generally due to the user not understanding the application. And, yes, you can control how Word reformats documents, or even if it does or does not.

              I manage Word documents that exceed 1000 pages. I don't see the issues you describe, but I have taken the time to learn and understand the functionality of Word.

          • When I read this: If you hear me saying "Stop fu*king helping me!" then you know for sure.

            All I could see was that dang paperclip tapping.

        • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

          Take some courses on how to use word.

          It has a lot of powerful features that are worth using, that are in no way obvious what they do, or how they work, and you don't even know what it's capable of unless someone shows you.

          We (a university) offer a first year course that covers the basics of Word and Excel for just this reason, and it's narrowly focused on the academic world.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:38PM (#43689471)

      You seem to be confusing professional with academic. It's hardly a big surprise you used LaTeX at college. It would be a lot more surprising if you'd been a professional using it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And you seem to have a false dichotomy. As a /professional/ academic, I do use LaTeX.

    • I format all my papers with HTML and CSS.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Still sounds pretty valid to me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      No shit. I don't even use google for my personal email. I have an account...its where I let the spam go.

      Microsoft, as much as I dislike exchange, is right here. Its not like there are not many alternatives, both free and commercially supported, which could be migrated to if they really wanted to drop that fee. However, going to a third party controlled cloud? Not just that, but the major one that so many people are using that it is, quite litterally, one of the biggest and juiciest targets in the world?

      No t

      • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:57PM (#43689045)
        I've read Google's privacy policy. To say privacy is a concern with Google's services is not FUD. It's a gross understatement.
        • by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:12PM (#43689177) Homepage Journal

          The issue is that Microsoft's privacy track record is worse.

          When George W. Bush demanded all search engines hand over search data tied to IP addresses for all users, Google was the only search engine to refuse. Microsoft handed that data right over.

          Microsoft has ad campaigns suggesting Google employees are actively reading your email, even though they know that is an outright lie, the very definition of FUD.

          Even worse, Microsoft is a hypocrite because they scan your email to serve up contextual ads as well.

          Microsoft also has a patent on selling your private data to the highest bidder.

          Google isn't giving your private data to anyone. They just serve you ads. Microsoft outright sells your data to people without your knowledge. And when they know they can't compete with Google on price, their only response is FUD.

          http://rt.com/usa/yahoo-microsoft-campaign-political-862/ [rt.com]

          • by adcm ( 117676 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @06:04PM (#43689711)

            When George W. Bush demanded all search engines hand over search data tied to IP addresses for all users, Google was the only search engine to refuse. Microsoft handed that data right over.

            Of course, this was MSN search in those days, so there were only about 14 people's search records apart from a few million searches for "google toolbar"

        • by Spykk ( 823586 )
          If you are competent and concerned by privacy then you aren't using cloud services, period. Why would anyone who cares about their users privacy choose to send all of their data to Microsoft, Google or anyone else?
        • Pay for Google Apps and get some serious privacy then -- the free service has to generate income somehow.

      • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:41PM (#43689497)

        I switched my company over to Google Apps.
        30 Users. With Drive for sharing, Groups and aliases. It works really well for us with extremely simple administration and really good uptime.
        Simple, Flexible and inexpensive.

      • by dtw ( 11134 )

        Its not like there are not many alternatives, both free and commercially supported, which could be migrated to if they really wanted to drop that fee.

        How about Lotus Notes?

    • It lacks specifics and relies on fear, uncertainty and doubt. Even if the conclusion goes along with facts, the actual argument used can still be FUD.
  • Organizations get pretty desperate to cut costs but when they do things like this they end up spending WAY more, both in time and in money.
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:05PM (#43689119) Journal

      I guess it depends on what you expect out of an email system. One thing is for sure, Exchange was always a rickety beast, and the level of codependency between Exchange and other elements of Windows over the last few versions have gone through the roof. For basic email and scheduling, I'd gladly leave Exchange behind, but we have a government contract (I'm in Canada) which strictly prohibits the storage of certain highly sensitive data outside of Canada, and the last time I contacted Google about it, they just brushed it off. So, here I am, getting ready to upgrade to Exchange 2013.

      • If you only care about email and calendars, then something like SOGO is a much cheaper alternative than Exchange and removes the requirement to run Windows on the server. It's also mainly developed by a Canadian company, so should keep your government contracts very happy. If you're already employing system administrators for Exchange, then the costs shouldn't change much.
  • by accessbob ( 962147 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:43PM (#43688921)
    Get the Facts guys...
  • Only $280k? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:45PM (#43688943) Homepage

    I suspect that number is wildly conservative. That's crazy, when you consider the costs associated with:

    * Multiple FT "Exchange Admins"
    * Needing people on-staff who actually understand email
    * If they were using something like Forefront and/or additional spam services as well (additional $$$)
    * Dozens of servers they no longer need to maintain maintain and replace
    * Tens of terabytes of fast, redundant storage they no longer need to keep on-premises

    Due to the cost of such a large migration (will they be migrating existing mail, I wonder, or just keeping it on a network-mapped share for archival access?) I have to wonder how long this will take.

    I'd have thought the per-year savings would be closer to a million than a quarter mil, personally.

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )

      TFA says it will still cost the city ~$800k to make the move... the $280k is reported to be the savings from dropping what they are currently doing.

      That's a whole lot of money to what? Move a large bit of data to the cloud, retire a number of on-prem servers and re-train people?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        TFA says it will still cost the city ~$800k to make the move... the $280k is reported to be the savings from dropping what they are currently doing.

        The only problem is that Google Docs are not guaranteed. You don't have a contract with Google that says, "We agree to provide this forever." WIth Office, assuming you don't choose to go with their rental model, you have a copy of a piece of software that you can just keep using.

        So in five years, when Google realizes that even though Docs is popular, it isn't

        • So in five years, when Google realizes that even though Docs is popular, it isn't making them any money, they'll decide to yank it with six months notice. When Boston gets to spend way more than that $280k to move back to an actual purchased office suite on an emergency basis, we'll all say, "So much for big savings."

          1) The estimated savings is $280k per year. So in 5 years they'd have saved $1.4 million. There's also a direct correlation here between savings and cost to move back to Office. If stopping

        • In all fairness, Google has a tendency to keep any retired services running for Apps users (Wave notwithstanding). If they don't, then they tend to migrate the data to a comparable service automatically (e.g. all Google Video data being migrated to Google Drive).

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        So this year, even with an 800k non-recurring cost, they save 280k. Sounds like next year is the buig payoff.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      You're assuming that the Exchange servers are handled in house. That's not necessarily the case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steelfood ( 895457 )

      I'm still waiting for the Linux version of Active Directory. Until then, I don't think they're going to have an easy time moving away from Exchange.

      • I believe Samba [theregister.co.uk] now supports Active Directory.

        But AD on Linux doesn't equate to an easy migration from Exchange. In the business world, Exchange is still king and the integration between email, calendaring and the Outlook client has not yet been replicated in an effective manner by its competitors.

        • Re:Only $280k? (Score:4, Informative)

          by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @07:50PM (#43690689)

          I don't know - Thunderbird and the Lightning calendar plugin do me just as well as Outlook and its inbuilt calendar does (better actually, since Outlook decided you didn't need to know what appointments you had coming up tomorrow [microsoft.com] something I found useful for early meetings)

          Link the calendar with gmail calendar, and the email with gmail emails... you've got pretty much 100% of the functionality Outlook gives you. (without the flipping Facebook integration Outlook 2013 now shoves at you, or the integration with skydrive). I use it (when I can't be bothered to read my mail using my phone, which seems to be my default view of Gmail nowadays) and it just works.

          If you need centralised user accounts, OpenLDAP does that, though its tricky to make that work with a bunch of Windows clients, it does work [erikberg.com] though its not out-of-the-box. This is how it should be, after all AD is just a fancy LDAP server anyway, but with a special Windows-only protocol that Microsoft had to hand over as part of their agreement with the EU (IIRC). Good to see the Samba team has finally waded through the walls MS must have put up and got samba 4 working as a full AD server.

          • Re:Only $280k? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Saturday May 11, 2013 @12:06AM (#43692431)

            When people say AD they don't mean the LDAP part with centralised user accounts. That's been doable for ages.

            When windows admins talk about AD, they are talking about all of the things that you can do with group policy and how those policies apply to different containers in a hierchical or cross cutting way, depending on configuration.

            With AD and GPO you can:
            -choose who has access to which desktops or servers and at what level in a granular or structured way (web admins have admin on web boxes but not mail servers, etc)
            -choose what machines have what software installed and in what way
            -set things like storage quotas (mailbox or otherwise) depending on a user's position/job
            -delegate a login server and storage cache depending on a user's physical location
            -enable and disable OS features (developers get IIS and debugging, people in finance don't)
            -configure access to shared mailboxes/other resources

            So if Jim moves from finance to web development, you drag and drop is user into another OU and add him to 5-10 groups on the AD server. Next time he logs on his access levels, what software is installed, what mail he has access to, his quotas, etc all change instantly.

            This CAN be hacked together with a bunch of scripts, a custom repository, NIS/openLDAP, and some other stuff in Linux, but it's not well documented, well supported, or something you can ask ANY linux admin to do and they will do it in the same way.

            • by socode ( 703891 )

              Nice, except it doesn't really work that way in practice, and certainly not instantly. Setting up and maintaining the configurations comes with an army of people, who seem to hack it together with a bunch of scripts, a custom repository and each variant of Win has a separate team. In stark contrast our UNIX farms tend to have much more stable configurations, with much simpler convention-based deployment and environment management.

              It's a lot less impressive when Jim's machine - after the obligatory 4 minute

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              So, edit the groups file. Remove Jim's id from the finance group and add it to the web group. Yp could handle that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        its called samba4

  • Of note... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by somarilnos ( 2532726 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:45PM (#43688945)
    The link that suggests that Los Angeles was unhappy with their switch to Google does not, in fact, say that. The link is to a letter of a consumer group bitching to LA about their switch to Google. Given, by all accounts, things did not go smoothly, but maybe a better link would be this? [consumerwatchdog.org]
  • I'm not suprised (Score:4, Informative)

    by prelelat ( 201821 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:46PM (#43688947)

    I do think that office 365 is a very nice response to cloud office suites but unless there is still a problem since that 2011 letter about the LA contract I don't know how they will break into that market. Google is a name that most IT people think of when they think of cloud processing suites. We started using 365 about 6-8 months ago and it works fantastically in my opinion. I also do know that other people have gone with google though because it's a big name and it does what it says it does. As far as I know there haven't been any complaints about google.

    Does anyone know what happened between google and the city of L.A. after this was released? I hadn't heard about it. I would be interested to know what the security issues they had were and if they were able to be resolved. This letter is considerably old in terms of technology advancements.

    • Re:I'm not suprised (Score:4, Informative)

      by desman ( 213514 ) on Friday May 10, 2013 @06:45PM (#43690073)

      I couldn't find anything recent, but this has a summary: http://arstechnica.com/business/2011/10/google-apps-hasnt-met-lapds-security-requirements-city-demands-refund/

      It also appears that consumerwatchdog.org may have been hired by Microsoft to attack Google: http://techrights.org/2009/05/04/consumer-watchdog-exposed/

  • I'm curious are their client machines windows boxes? Are they then using active directory and what kind of file servers are they using?
  • Until Google decides to pull the plug. Beware!

  • It's interesting to see the kind of convoluted side bar going on with LA. While the TFA pointed out Boston is going to use Google Apps, LA seems to be tied up in CSC drudgery. I can't understand how or why it would be so hard to do this kind of project, I mean I do have experience in this area so it doesn't seem so damn complex. Sure, lots of mailboxes, security requirements but that's done day in and day out. Oh wait, CSC is the sub here LOL, never mind.

    Groupwise and CSC in the same project? ... Doomed

  • More and more customers aren't buying that FUD.

    But then the summary goes on to explain that another company re-neg'd on this deal... indicating it's not all FUD?

    I don't care about gdocs or office, but how could say it's FUD, when LA has switched back to office because of actual - documented - problems?

  • I have used Google Docs products for the last 3-4 years in various ways and I can say this: they suck.

    Try to create a spreadsheet with a moderate number of rows and you're toasted, specially if you use any kind of formula.

    BTW, everything done using the super Google Chrome browser so there would be no complaints.
  • is a nominal 10 bucks a year
    for all the head ached, and very, very inferior GUI and user experinece of Gmail, not to mention the security issues, and the politics of having Gov't email running thru a service that looks at mail, they are saving 10 bucks a month

    what is the psychology that leads people to dis word, a perfectly fine program ?
    Sure, it has idiosyncrasys, but show me a program that doesn't
    Sure, it has bugs and fails, but show me complex, or even simple, program that doesn't

    I write 10-20 page do

  • Having had a business unit decide they didn't want to pay for their own infrastructure and attempt to use google apps, and then migrate back to their own infrastructure, all I can say is that unless your requirements are very basic, its a non-starter.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker