Google has trained its eyes on businesses looking to move away from Microsoft Exchange to alternative e-mail systems with its aptly named Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange tool. It will connect to the company's Exchange to seamlessly migrate e-mail, calendar entries as well as contact data over to Google Apps.
Google says its Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange utility will work with Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007, and both the on-premise and hosted versions. It's free to customers of Google Apps Premier, which is priced at $50 per user per year, and to those who qualify for the Education Edition.
Of course, a closer read will show that there is no mention of support for Tasks & Notes, for which there is no matching feature in Google Apps. This might be a moot point, of course, since probably few people use this aspect of Exchange.
No upper limit or minimum user count are mentioned, though it is immediately clear to me that small and medium businesses stand to benefit the most from this tool. Apart from the large amount of Exchange data to be transferred and the inherent technical complexity, you also have to consider continuity of operations. These are some of the concerns that the tool attempts to address.
For example, the Official Google Enterprise Blog touts ease of migration in just four steps. Administrators can move users en masse or selectively in multiple phrases so as not to overburden the available bandwidth during office hours.
In addition, Google says employees can continue to use Microsoft Exchange without interruption during the migration. No performance metrics were offered, but the Google blog entry talks of how "hundreds of users" can be migrated "at the same time."
To get a better feel for how the utility works, I delved into administrator guide and found that the utility will transfer messages at a rate of 1 per second, and on all selected users simultaneously. This means that a mailbox with 10,000 e-mails theoretically will take less than three hours to complete, assuming that the server and network hold up, of course.
Overall, the solution looks like what the harried administrator or IT manager for an SMB looking to move away from Microsoft Exchange will be looking for. Obviously, this assumes the business is ready to switch to Google Apps in the first place, a topic that I will explore in a another blog.
In the meantime, system administrators can check out the official Administrator Guide for Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange for additional technical information. Executives interested in how the ROI pans out will want to look at the online calculator offered by Google to perform a cost comparison.