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Google Inks Its Largest Cloud Deal Yet with Spanish Bank

The cloud contracts just keep on coming for Google, which this week inked a deal for the biggest rollout of its Google Apps suite to date.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), the second-largest banking institution in Spain with operations around the world, will move 110,000 of its employees to Google Apps for Business, the bank announced on Wednesday.

"[W]e're migrating our business to Google Apps to increase efficiency and to help our teams to collaborate more easily, regardless of location," wrote BBVA CIO José Olalla in a guest post on the Google Enterprise Blog. "We will migrate our old email systems to the cloud with Gmail. Google Talk, Google Sites and Google Docs will allow our teams to communicate and share ideas more easily."

According to Sebastien Marotte, vice president for enterprise at Google Europe, the BBVA deal represents a milestone for both Google and cloud computing. In an interview with the BBC, he noted that not only is this Google's biggest cloud deal so far, "it shows that now even banks are moving to the cloud."

Carmen Herranz, BBVA's director of innovation whom the BBC interviewed in addition to Marotte, said that the decision to move to the cloud was prompted in part by BBVA's increasingly mobile workforce. She said that more employees were working from home or using tablets and smartphones for work purposes. With employees located in 26 countries, BBVA needed a solution that would allow workers to access information and collaborate with each other regardless of geography.

Nevertheless, a financial institution like BBVA moving any part of its systems to the public cloud might give some people pause. Concerns over outages and security are consistently cited as major roadblocks to cloud adoption. Additionally, banks are generally subject to rigorous compliance requirements. Google's own cloud offerings fell under close scrutiny late last year when reports surfaced that the city of Los Angeles, which two years ago signed a deal to move its e-mail to Google Apps, had begun to question whether Google would be able to meet the security requirements of the city's various departments.

However, Herranz emphasized that Google's cloud offerings will be used strictly for internal communications. Sensitive customer data and banking operations will remain within BBVA's own datacenters. She and Marotte assured the BBC that the deal with Google will comply with banking regulators' security and privacy requirements.

BBVA's move to Google Apps will begin with 35,000 employees initially and continue throughout the year. It is expected to be completed by year's end, the bank said.

Google has closed several high-profile cloud contracts over the past months, sometimes competing directly with Microsoft in the bidding process. In December, the company told IDG News Service that it was planning to announce a number of large cloud deals -- over 100,000 users -- in the coming weeks. Presumably, the BBVA contract was one of those deals.

In a separate interview with Bloomberg, Marotte said that Google already has cloud contracts in place at "4 million organizations across the world," and suggested that cloud deals with large institutions such as BBVA will become more common in the future.

"The adoption of the cloud is picking up and we are seeing a lot of large organizations evaluating these kinds of solutions," he said. "So I guess you would see more organizations moving to Google Apps."

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.

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