Dumping Outlook for gMail – how and why

Ever contemplate saying bye-bye to Outlook forever? How about your church volunteers and staff – are they missing important messages because they can’t afford, nor figure out how to synchronize, the latest version on their home machines?  Is the portability and price of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions like gMail sound almost too goo to be true?

Breaking Free of Outlook - ReadWrite Web

Hopefully in today’s post I can address these questions, first by presenting some of the downsides as identified as a comment to a recent, related post here, then by going over some of the good points identified in a ReadWrite Web post on the topic of dumping Outlook for gmail.

First the comment …

In response to the SaaS related oversights in my entitled XP is dead – Linux community misses marketing opportunity …. Scott Christensen opined:

“While I agree with you that SaaS is a great concept and has been implemented by some companies very well … can you really trust company X with your possibly confidential data? Or what if company X goes under? I think a lot of research has to be done by all parties making the decision to go with SaaS solely because you may be painting yourself into a corner that may be very difficult to get out of.”

While I’m a big fan of SaaS, I also think Scott is right to remind us to always execute due diligence whenever making an operational change – in the case of this post, dumping Outlook for gMail. And since email is such a huge part of any church and/or charity I think investigating the privacy policies and the financial health of any SaaS solution is a wise step.

In fact, I go well beyond those issues in my September 2007 post on the topic entitled “5 things about Google Aps that concern me” including:

  • publishing & privacy policies
  • version control,
  • backups, and
  • content ownership.

Now the article …

That said, in today’s ReadWrite web post entitled ‘Breaking Free of Outlook,’ author Bernard Lunn describes how necessity made him a believer in Software as a Service (SaaS) as a new office environment compelled him to ditch Microsoft Outlook for gMail. Pragmatically he notes the pros and cos, eventually siding with the SaaS solution without gushing gaga-like over Google Mail, including:

  • 99% of Spam kill rate
  • Searching much easier & more effective
  • portability across different platforms
  • use of multiple email addresses
  • ability to use gMail with your domain name
  • mobility, mobility, mobility

In fact, Mr. Lunn points out a situation that may force you into a SaaS solution regardless of one’s preference of software company when he writes:

“Microsoft is clearly well aware of the threat to Exchange, which is why they launched their own Hosted Exchange offering in July 2008. This will put Microsoft in head to head competition with their hitherto partners who offered third part Hosted Exchange offerings. This game is now clearly all about economies of scale on those giant server farms, so we are likely to see email server hosting consolidate down to a handful of companies in the next few years. This is the normal and expected lifecycle for a commodity market such as email serving.”

So what’s my point?

Simply this – as you and your charitable organization consider moving into the web space to deal with the ever-growing costs and complexities of maintaining multiple desktop solutions and/or the demand for more remote collaboration, there are both pros and cons.

Hopefully this post here will provide food for thought as well as a coupla helpful hyperlinks to aid in your final decision.

As for me, I’ve been off Outlook Express and into gMail personally since 2004. Of course, your mileage may vary.