Microsoft Ups Exchange Online Mailbox Storage to 25 GB

Microsoft increased the mailbox storage capacity for users of its hosted business productivity online suite (BPOS) of applications.

Mailboxes have expanded from 5 GB to 25 GB at no extra cost to BPOS and Exchange online users, according to an announcement issued by Microsoft on Wednesday. The mailbox storage capacity boost was hinted at last month in a talk by Kayvaan Ghassemieh, a senior technical product manager for Microsoft Online Services.

Ghassemieh said that the next BPOS updates to expect include the addition of single sign-on capability and a fix for calendar coexistence in hybrid deployments. Microsoft issues its BPOS updates every six to eight weeks, he explained.

The new boosted mailbox storage capacity brings Microsoft up to speed with Google, which offers the same 25 GB mailbox storage capacity as part of its Gmail and Google Apps services. Google Apps Premier service for businesses includes hosted e-mail, calendar and Office-like applications for $50 per user per year.

IBM lists a paltry storage capacity of 1 GB for its LotusLive Notes e-mail service offering, which costs $9 per user per month.

Microsoft boasts of offering Exchange online, SharePoint online and Office Communications online as part of its BPOS offering for $10 per user per month. In addition, Live Meeting Standard is included in the suite, which can support 250 non-BPOS users for Webinars, according to a Microsoft blog.

Hosted E-mail may prove to be one of the top software-as-a-service applications adopted by businesses because of scalability issues, including limited e-mail server storage space on premises. According to a prediction made in April by analyst firm Gartner, about 20 percent of the business market will use software-as-a-service for e-mail by the end of 2012.

Google Offers Tool To Ditch Microsoft Exchange

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.