Report: Google Enters Cloud Deal with General Motors

According to a report published Friday by The Wall Street Journal, Google has entered an agreement with General Motors Corp. to provide its cloud-based Google Apps suite to more than 100,000 of the automaker's employees.

If the deal goes through, Google's e-mail and collaboration suite would replace an in-house version of IBM's Lotus Notes software. However, Google must meet certain requirements before GM ultimately decides to deploy Google Apps, the WSJ report said.

GM has neither confirmed nor denied that it is considering Google Apps. "GM's IT organization explores technology capabilities of various developers all the time -- we have to do that in order to be on the leading edge of workplace technology. GM has not made a decision to deploy Google Apps," a company spokesperson said in an e-mail.

If GM were to deploy Google Apps enterprisewide, it would be a major coup for Google and a blow to Microsoft, which is trying to gain traction with its own cloud offering, Office 365, launched earlier this year. Both Google and Microsoft have competed heatedly for cloud messaging and collaboration wins.

One of Google's marquee wins, a $7.2 million contract with the city of Los Angeles, was signed nearly two years ago, but Google Apps still hasn't been completely rolled out to all of Los Angeles' 30,000 employees. The lead contractor, Computer Sciences Corp., has deployed 17,000 seats, but some agencies have held off on the rollout, saying it doesn't meet security requirements -- an allegation Google has refuted.

Google claims over 4 million Google Apps customers, but the company does not break out how many run the fee-based offering versus the free service. Google recently received an endorsement from Gartner, which released a report stating that Google Apps is now suitable for enterprise deployment.

Gartner estimates that cloud e-mail accounts for only 3 to 4 percent of the overall enterprise e-mail installed base, but forecasts that it will grow to 20 percent by 2016 and 55 percent by 2020.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.