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Microsoft's Exchange a casualty of bank's cloud move to Google Apps

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya chose Google Apps to boost collaboration among its 110,000 employees globally

By Juan Carlos Perez
January 12, 2012 03:13 PM ET

IDG News Service - Seeking to transform the way its staff communicates and collaborates worldwide, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) will roll out Google Apps to its 110,000 employees, shedding along the way various legacy email systems, including Microsoft Exchange, a bank executive said in an interview.

When completed, the implementation will be the largest ever for Google Apps, and a vivid example of the challenge Microsoft faces in trying to hang on to customers as they move to cloud-based collaboration and communication suites.

BBVA decided that in order to increase operational efficiency and innovation, it needed to boost collaboration among its staff at its Spain home base and in more than 26 international territories in which it operates.

In seeking a software tool to support that goal, the bank concluded that it should implement a suite designed from the ground up for cloud-based collaboration. After evaluating several options, it settled on Google Apps, because it fulfilled the bank's collaboration requirements and seemed the most mature, secure and reliable.

As a consequence, the bank is discarding Exchange, which was the email system for the about 35,000 employees in BBVA's Spain offices, as well as various other email systems from other vendors used in BBVA offices around the world.

BBVA executive Carmen Lopez Herranz points out that the project that culminated with the adoption of Google Apps was never motivated by a desire or a need to specifically switch to a different email platform.

"What we wanted to do was to change the way we work. We never approached this as a project to change our email systems. That was a consequence of the solution that we decided to adopt," said Lopez Herranz, who is director of BBVA's global innovation.

Also interesting is that cutting costs wasn't one of the project's goals. When saving money is a requirement, Microsoft is often at a disadvantage against vendors like Google.

Microsoft also offers a cloud-based collaboration and communication suite, Office 365, that competes directly with Google Apps, and so do other vendors, including IBM Lotus. But, in the eyes of the BBVA decision makers, Google emerged as a solid cloud computing player and Apps as a stable, trustworthy suite.

"Google is a company whose business is based on providing cloud services," she said, referring to Google's consumer online applications, like its search engine. "And we view Google Apps as a mature, very complete suite that best meets our requirements."

Of course, just as there are companies like BBVA that choose Google Apps, there are others that will and do prefer Office 365. But the question is to what extent Microsoft will see its long-standing base of on-premise Exchange, SharePoint, Office and Outlook get eroded by customers who opt to jump to Google Apps when they decide to move to a cloud-based collaboration and communication suite.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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