Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) cloud-based Gmail application commands only 1 percent of email market share in the enterprise, but that's enough for research firm Gartner to declare that the application has become a credible competitor to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange Online and other Web-based email services
Google doesn't reveal how many Gmail users it has, though experts estimate somewhere between 150 million to 200 million users access the application for personal and/or professional communications. Gartner said the enterprise version of Gmail is gaining traction in commercial organizations with more than 5,000 seats and now has nearly half the market for cloud email in that market sector.
"While cloud email is still in its infancy, at 3 percent to 4 percent of the overall enterprise email market, we expect it to be a growth industry, reaching 20 percent of the market by year-end 2016, and 55 percent by year-end 2020," said Gartner analyst Matthew Cain.
Cain's research revealed that Google hasn't been as accommodating to enterprise needs as it could be when it comes to Gmail. Google apparently focuses on user feature functionality for the consumer market and largely ignores requests from financial services firms and others for features that satisfy their requirements on the back end, said Cain.
"Banks, for example, may require surveillance capabilities that Google is unlikely to build into Gmail, given the limited appeal," Cain noted, adding that large system integrators and enterprises said Google's lack of transparency in areas such as continuity, security and compliance can thwart deeper relationships.
Cain recommends that most organizations execute one more on-premises upgrade through 2014, or even employ a hybrid system of cloud and on-premise in-boxes. That's an approach Microsoft currently promotes as it begins to more aggressively ramp up its Office 365 cloud suite, which includes Exchange Online, SharePoint collaboration and other services.
Gartner will outline the battle between Google and Microsoft in the enterprise email market at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in October.
For more, read the eWeek article Gmail Now Credible Reival to Microsoft Exchange: Gartner.
This article was originally published on 09-18-2011