By Dave Hannon, Partner and Google Practice Leader, Flexion
In the summer of 2007, my business partner approached me with a proposal. He had seen some information about something called Google Apps, and thought we should think about moving to it.After he gave me an overview, I reacted as any self-respecting person in my position would. I said “Let me get this straight. You want to move our company's email and calendar to Google? The search engine people? Are you out of your mind?” “We won’t be able to get to the servers. That doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me!” I don’t recall exactly what I said, but it was something along those lines. I was skeptical, but agreed to look more into it. To make a long story short, I was eventually convinced. We began migrating our email from our servers to Google Apps that fall. It even turns out Google provides great tools for doing that. In those days, we were primarily a custom software development company. We had a handful of very good security people, and a total of about 50 employees. We also hosted some of our smaller customers’ websites and applications. Between our infrastructure and our hosting, our security people had plenty to keep them busy. They had to keep many things up to date: their skills; the servers and other devices; their tools. Then, they had to deal with whichever fire would pop up next - and they popped up a lot. We had VPN’s, redundant firewalls, routers, intrusion detection servers, spam filters, backup servers, patches, upgrades, etc, etc. I was all too familiar with hunkering down in a server room, trying to keep warm, keep awake, and keep whatever I had with me balanced on the little pull out shelf for the keyboard, at 2:00 in the morning, while troubleshooting a server issue. Suddenly, after moving to Google Apps, we were able to turn off our servers for IMAP, SMTP, anti-spam, and web mail. Suddenly, we stopped having periodic outages of our email. Suddenly, I was spending less time in the server room. We now have around 200 people, who are spread throughout the United States and Canada. We haven’t had to add anything to support our email, messaging, calendar, documents, and drive storage, except to add a license for each person who comes aboard.