The New South Wales (NSW) education department in Australia has decided to drop Outlook/Exchange services and use Google services instead. The switch will affect 1.5 million students and save the department nearly AU$23 million ($22 million USD).
Google will partner with Australia’s SMS Management and Technology and supply Gmail services to the NSW Department of Education for its 1.5 million students according to NSW Minister for Education and Training, John Hatzistergos.
Hatzistergos told Australian IT:
"This commitment is a further demonstration of the NSW Labor Government's commitment to equip teachers and students with the best possible means to compete successfully in the constantly evolving world of information technology."
SMS has won the bid and will finalize the contract with NSW education department very soon. The contract is worth AU$9.5 million for three years of Google services. SMS will partner with Google and telecommunications provider Telstra.
According to Australian IT, this is the largest private deployment of Gmail in the world.
Google also scored another victory in the academic sector recently when it signed with Australia's Macquarie University last year.
NSW education department chief information officer, Stephen Wilson, said the contract only includes the use of Google's Gmail services. He said the department hasn't decided about the switchover to Google Docs from Microsoft Office, but may decide to do the switch in the future.
The advantage with Gmail over Outlook is that students can access Gmail anytime, anyplace and anywhere.
The only concern the schools are having with Gmail is bandwidth: Gmail is hosted offshore so the department is concerned about high bandwidth bills for retrieving messages. If Google installs more servers locally in Australia it may solve the problem.
The students at the NSW schools will also have increased mail storage -- 170 times more using Gmail than Outlook, or 6GB instead of 35 MB.
SMS chief executive Tom Stianos told Australian IT Google is planning to have a hosted solution within Australia to solve the education department’s bandwidth costs, including a hosted server center in Australia for its Gmail services.
Slowly, it seems Google is gaining on Microsoft’s territory. For businesses and schools, Gmail and Google Apps are the best tools for managing hundreds or thousands of people, in my opinion.