Christchurch technology firm Tait Electronics has become the latest flag-bearer for Google Apps, after switching all of its nearly 1000 staff world-wide from Microsoft software to Google's "cloud-based" email and calendar applications. Information systems manager George Elder says it appears the firm will save money, but he cannot say how much. "When you replace five different mail servers with one standard, then potentially you avoid the need to upgrade those and apply patches and maintain those for the future." The main motivation was that Tait employs staff "all around the world" and had several mail servers in different locations, he says. "Collaboration in the international environment was the major driver. This has enabled us to move to a single mail system, accessible from anywhere, and have a common calendar for all of our people." Migrating to Google Apps was reasonably straightforward, he says. One of the challenges - cited by other Google Apps users - was migrating terabytes of archived email to the new system. Many staff were familiar with Gmail, but some had to get to grips with the different way Google Apps collates emails. Google Mail catalogues emails in threads - conversations between users - rather than in a linear manner. Elder says some people love threading and some hate it. "It is something we would like to see made optional. Definitely people who are not used to threading, they find it a little bit more difficult. "The people who are extremely heavy users of mail have probably had the most difficulty working with the change because it is different to what they are accustomed to. "For us, the thing that is working best is Google Calendar." Google Mail was more reliable than Tait's own email system, he says. "We believe we now have a more secure environment." Elder is confident its contract with Google would let Tait switch provider, if required. "They keep open a window for us to do that for a fixed period of time after the contract is finished. "We could take other actions if we wanted, such as making our own copies of all mail independently, but then we would eliminate some of the benefits, as we would need to maintain our own data centre capability to do that."
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