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September 16, 2011 at 8:04 AM

Gartner: Google Gmail now a viable alternative to Microsoft in business e-mail market

Research firm Gartner says that after five years in the market, Google’s Gmail now presents a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Online and other cloud email services for companies with over 5,000 seats.

“The road to its enterprise enlightenment has been long and bumpy, but Gmail should now be considered a mainstream cloud email supplier,” Matthew Cain, research vice president at Gartner, said in a news release today. “While Gmail’s enterprise email market share currently hovers around 1 percent, it has close to half of the market for enterprise cloud email. While cloud email is still in its infancy, at 3 percent to 4 percent of the overall enterprise email market, we expect it to be a growth industry, reaching 20 percent of the market by year-end 2016, and 55 percent by year-end 2020.”

Still, Google has a ways to go. “Google focuses on capabilities that will have the broadest market uptake,” the news release says. “Large organizations with complex email requirements, such as financial institutions, report that Google is resistant to feature requests that would be applicable to only a small segment of its customers. Banks, for example, may require surveillance capabilities that Google is unlikely to build into Gmail given the limited appeal.

“While Google is good at taking direction and input on front-end features, it is more resistant to the back-end feature requests that are important to larger enterprises,” the release continues. “Large system integrators and enterprises report that Google’s lack of transparency in areas such as continuity, security and compliance can thwart deeper relationships.”

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