Thursday, March 27, 2008

MailShadow offers Outlook and GMail Integration

MailShadow is a product that has real potential since it synchronizes calendaring information as well as email. The University has been struggling with trying to decide if central IT should adopt a centralized calendaring system for the entire university but has met resistance from Academic Affairs and the executive administration office that has Microsoft Exchange deployed there as well as the inhouse administrators of the open standards mail system deployed University-wide that does not play well with Exchange. I served on the committee looking at calendaring alternatives and no product handled an environment where different mail and calendar platforms were operating simultaneously very well. Microsoft offers a very competitive price on their client software but Exchange requires a hefty investment in server hardware and administration. At the College of Education we are not staffed to maintain our own mail system either. So, outsourcing the mail and calendaring services to Google and using MailShadow to integrate with Outlook is a very attractive option.

"Cemaphore Systems, a company that specializes in e-mail backup services, announced Wednesday a new product that allows people to automatically synchronize their e-mail, calendar and address books between Microsoft’s Outlook and Google’s Gmail. The service, called MailShadow for Google Apps, is being pitched as a “email continuity and disaster recovery solution.” In other words, it is intended to provide users of Outlook and Exchange, Microsoft’s mail server, with a secure backup. As such, it represents an interesting use of the Google computing “cloud” to provide a service for Microsoft users.

But the technology also would allow businesses to rip out their Exchange servers and run Outlook, which millions of users are familiar with, directly from the Google servers.

“If you are an I.T. guy and you can change the back end from Exchange to Google, and keep Outlook for your users, that’s a really interesting proposition,” said Matt Cain, an analyst with Gartner. “We’ll have to see if it works.”
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