The U.S. Interior Department will replace all of its on-premise email hosting services with the popular Google (News - Alert) Apps cloud-based service, Gmail. Gmail is a free email service owned by Google that allows users to access secure Webmail via POP3 or IMAP4 protocols. Although this service will help eliminate costs and enable employees to access email at any time, anywhere – the department said it still plans on using Microsoft (News - Alert) Outlook and Office as its standard email hosting client.
The U.S. Interior Department consists of over 70,000 full-time employees and 20,000 seasonal workers who all are given access to the company’s email hosting service. Although the company will be encouraging users to switch over to the Gmail service, it won’t be a requirement.
“We set the standard for the department more than 10 years ago of Outlook for email client software and Microsoft Office for office productivity apps. I don’t necessarily see us moving off of that,” said Andrew Jackson, deputy assistant secretary for technology, information and business services at the Interior Department.
Jackson explained that the reason the department has even considered adding on a cloud-based service is due to the great amount of employees who work in remote locations. Many of the employees said they are currently happy with the Outlook service and have no plans of switching any time soon. Jackson said this would be an ongoing process. “I’m sure we’ll continue to evaluate the process. If we get to a point where we feel comfortable that we can rely on a product like Google Docs, we may choose to go in that direction, but that’s further down the road,” he added.
Email hosting is a serious decision for any company and switching over to this offering can be a daunting task. In order for the Interior Department to even consider adding an additional service to its employees it must go through a trail period. Currently, the Google Apps-Onix Networking system is being tested and needs to pass a 60-day evaluation before being implemented.
“It’s definitely not guaranteed. We are serious about evaluating their capabilities,” he said. “We have the opportunity at this checkpoint to say: ‘Ok, are they really cutting the mustard?’ And if they’re not, we’ll have to consider the alternatives.”
Google said in a statement that it’s “honored that the Department of the Interior has selected Google Apps for Government,” saying it looks “forward to working closely with the DOI to give employees new communication tools.”
Jackson said the department is working as quickly as possible to implement as many new services as possible.