Google has taken another step toward making it easier for IT departments to abandon Microsoft Exchange for Google Apps.
On Wednesday, the company announced a new tool called “Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange.” It’s a server-side tool that can migrate “hundreds” of Exchange users simultaneously, according to Google’s announcement.
Users can continue to use e-mail enabled through Exchange without interruption throughout the migration process, said Abhishek Bapna, product manager for Google Apps, in an e-mail. The migration tool works with Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2007, both on-premises and hosted. The tool is free for Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers.
Google Apps is a suite of hosted e-mail, calendar and Office-like applications offered to businesses for $50 per user per year. It’s free for educational institutions and individuals.
The new Exchange migration tool continues Google’s movement to the enterprise software space after its initial rollouts to the consumer market. Exchange has been one of Google’s prime targets in that effort. In June 2009, Google rolled out Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, which lets business users continue to use the Outlook e-mail, calendar and contacts interfaces while connecting to Google’s servers.
Google also recently opened up its Google Apps Marketplace, allowing developers to sell their applications directly to businesses. The Marketplace and the release of the Exchange migration tool show that “Google is serious about enterprise software,” according to Don Dodge, a developer evangelist working for Google. Dodge formerly served at Microsoft as an advisor to its startup communities. He was laid off during Microsoft’s recent job cuts, but joined Google in November 2009.
Google claims that running Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange involves just four steps to move users onto Google Apps. The tool, along with a guide that outlines the migration process, can be downloaded here.
Google recommends migrating global address lists first so that “address translations are already available when e-mail and calendar data is migrated,” Bapna explained. A tool called “Google Apps Directory Sync” can be used for that purpose. Bapna added that the migration process can be stopped at any point and resumed later. The tool includes “logging and reporting capabilities” to track any errors.
Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers get 24/7 phone support from Google, plus online support. Hands-on support is available via Google’s partner community.
“Customers desiring even higher touch support during their migration can work with one of the many partners who offer such services through the Google Apps Marketplace,” Bapna explained.