The Great Debate : Migrating a corporate exchange installation to Gmail + Google Calendar

A rather humorous debate has started in the office around mail and calendaring solutions. Humorous because everyone running Windows loves Exchange and doesn’t see what the big deal is.

We’re a software shop with about 1/3 (of ~50) of the employees being in development. Most developers have recently migrated (from Linux/XP) to OS X. Windows has been and will always be the defacto OS of choice for non-developers. It’s the unfortunate truth in any corporate environment I’ve seen.

Now for the past couple of years we’ve been plugging along w/ Exchange. It’s satisfactory enough for the Windows users but really leaves a lot to desire for anyone else.

The ability to book resources (meeting rooms primarily) has always been a major sticking point. It works acceptably well using Outlook but rather terribly via. the webmail interface. Unfortunately, Mail.app on the Mac doesn’t do much other than e-mail. A few people are using Entourage 2004 but I’ve yet to make the plunge. At least w/ Entourage I could install Google Desktop and get a nicer search interface.

Essentially there’s a (significant?) divide between the different parts of the organization. From a strictly personal perspective, my exchange calendar is almost never up to date and it doesn’t bother me. I grab mail using Mail.app and accept meetings in iCal. Unless I make a special trip to the webmail interface, exchange is never going to know I accepted/rejected the meeting request. Honestly, I’ve got more important things to do. Do people expect me to have a current calendar… probably… and therein lies the rub.

Throw a VPN into the mix and it’s a rare occurrence that I can send mail using anything other than the webmail interface when I’m not in the office. This particular problem is probably more VPN configuration than a problem w/ Exchange.

There has to be something better?

I can say without a doubt that I’d love to see us switch to Google Apps for Enterprise. The suggestion has been put forth by numerous people but I’m doubtful that the rest of the organization can be convinced of its benefits.

Failing a mass migration away from exchange, I suspect we’ll see more people (myself included) running Entourage.

Any other alternatives?

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