Google Maps Snaps My House

Only a nerd like me would be excited about this.  Streetview is an awesome feature of Google Maps.  It allows you to see 360 pictures of the streets in Google maps.  Google has mostly taken pictures of the streets in big cities.

Yesterday, Just as I was arriving home from work there was a car with a fancy camera mounted on a pole that extended high above the roof.  On the side of the car was a  magnetic Google sign.  I recognized it as the car that takes the Streeview pictures.  I hope it caught me in my car.  I was amazed that Google was already photographing the streets of this relatively small town.

I wonder how long it will take for the pictures to appear.  I will check periodically.  If there are pictures of my car or houe I will post the link.

How much does email cost?

Our manager of data center technologies, Chris Fallin, has done a great job of designing an upgrade to our Exchange-based email platform. The design is enterprise-class (highly redundant and highly recoverable). But it also manages cost by reducing some of the unnecessary redundancy we have today. We will be implementing tools to manage email retention and e-discovery. We will also are buying tools to monitor the platform and manage the migration from Exchange 5.5 to 2007.

In total it will cost us $1.5M to upgrade our email platform. This includes a mix of Servers, OS, System software, Network upgrades and Microsoft Client Access Licenses.

Additionally, our cost to maintain that system (software and hardware maintenance and network connections) will run about $760K over the next 4 years. At that point we will need to upgrade hardware again (at least).

Given that we have 15,000 email users, I calculate our cost of email, for the next 4 years, will be $3.14 per user per month.

Come on Google, Answer the Phone (with updates)


2/27/07 1000: I decided to send Google another request today in case my first one wasn’t clear enough: This is my second attempt to contact you. I am the CIO of an organization with 11,000 users. Can someone contact me about the feasibility of migrating from our existing Exchange 5.5 platform.

2/27/07 1030: I received this email from Google after my second contact: We did receive your inquiry… thank you for your interest. Blair Reuling s your point of contact given the size of your organization. Blair is in he field and often traveling, and might be delayed in responding. Please eel free to contact Blair at…

2/28/2007: I phoned the Google enterpise dude 6 or 7 times today and could not reach him in his office or on his mobile phone. I left him a voicemail with a request to contact me so I can give him a bunch of cash. No contact yet. He has n are code in the Chicago suburbs. Maybe we will become best friends and go to White Sox games together – I have opening day tickets. Come on Google, answer my calls.

3/6/2007: Today I had my second conversation with Google – this was a WebEx (yes, Google uses WebEx).  I will create a new post when I have something to report.  But, I can confirm that they answered the phone and they have kept my interest enough for a 3rd meeting.   Of course the thing about meeting with Google is that you know they are going to Google your name.  When they did, this little post popped up.  But, they seemed to take it in stride by accepting my baseball offer below.  Hi Blair.
Original post

This month, for the first time since 1996, I started believing that there may be alternatives to Microsoft Exchange. Recently, Google announced their enterprise offering: Google Apps Premiere Edition for Enterprises.

Since we are the verge of beginning a project to rebuild or email system, I quickly jumped into the Google web site completed a web form telling them that I am the CIO for a $1B+ organization with 11,000 users and I wanted to buy their service. Of course there are no phone numbers posted, which indicates to me that Google has not created an infrastructure for supporting enterprises. They are treating their enterprise customers like their freeloading search and gmail users – here is the offering, don’t call us – ever. That is a good strategy for Aunt Agnes who cant figure out ho to open an attachment from her knitting club, it doesn’t work when you hope to close multi-million dollar deals.

While I waited for a response I started checking out the information Google had posted online. In general, I wanted to know if this would be an enterprise class service.

I got mixed feelings from reading the promotional material. On the one hand they have developed APIs for directory integration, user provisioning and onsite backup (good, good and good). But the information was not very deep and there was not of service to support an enterprise offering. Migrating to an email system would be a massive undertaking and there would have to be a ton of resources to assist us with the planning and testing.

While I applaud Google for including a service level agreement, it really isn’t enterprise class. 99.9% uptime for email is not acceptable in today’s world.

Even the pricing isn’t geared toward the true enterprise user either. $50 per user per year is great for a small company. But it really doesn’t scale to a large organization. At 11,000 users we would be forking over $550,000 a year. I am not sure how much we spend on messaging now, but I suspect it is less than half a million annually. Google’s service does give our users access to documents and spreadsheets, but most users that need Office already have it. This would be the case in most enterprises.

It is 4 days after begging Google to take my half million dollars, and I still have not heard from anyone. Apparently they are processing a backlog of CIOs willing to risk their job on such a venture. I am thinking this is more evidence that there is not a lot of enterprise support and their offering may be more suited to small businesses.

Still, I am very intrigued. I really feel that I have been overcharged by Microsoft for years because they could. So, I am primed for a change. Also, a managed service has a lot of appeal.

In the mean time I have downloaded the latest version of OpenOffice on my home PC. The improvement over the earlier versions that I have tried is remarkable. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy Office for their home when this works exactly the same. Folks, it is a free download (via bittorrent).

Maybe Microsoft’s iron grip is loosening. Maybe Google can get a grip.

I will keep you updated.