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Roche to Google App-ify 90,000 Employees

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Gaining Control of the Cloud without Losing Flexibility

Roche Group is transitioning all 90,000 of its employees to Google Apps. Dr. Alan Hippe, Roche’s CFO and CIO, announced that the pharmaceutical giant is making the switch in a guest post on the Google Enterprise Blog.

Hippe is in a unique position. As both chief financial officer and chief information officer, he can weigh in on the decision to adopt Google Apps from both a technical and financial perspective.

More Collaboration, Leaner Data Centers

Technology-wise, Google Apps allows Roche to focus more on its business and less on data centers. It’s an increasingly common refrain among businesses as they make the leap to cloud-based services for their technology needs.

Hippe writes that “being able to deploy Google Apps by simply enabling them via a control panel versus planning for and deploying complex infrastructure in our datacenters will help us focus on our core business — helping save patients’ lives.”

In a nod to the expanding role of mobility in the enterprise, he adds that employees will be able to collaborate from practically anywhere on web-enabled devices without setting up VPNs or taxing his company’s IT support teams.

Hippe didn’t divulge what financial factors motivated Roche’s decision. He did, however, hint at the cost of doing business under the old system — in lost productivity, for the most part. “For the last two and a half years, our two different email and calendaring platforms have often been an obstacle for effective collaboration.”

Ultimately, Google provides a better fit for Roche’s geographically distributed workforce. “The way our employees communicate and collaborate is diverse, and our employees are spread across over 140 countries,” Hippe states.

Gaining Business and Government Cloud Customers

In January, apparel maker Jordache Enterprises announced that Google Apps is the platform of choice for its 20,000 employees. Like Hippe, Jordache’s SVP of Operations, Ezri Silver, praised the ability to access its collaboration tools across continents and time zones. Moreover, it solved thorny interoperability issues between its Novell GroupWise setup and users of Microsoft Outlook.

Savings matter, too. Google is costing Jordache 20 percent less than GroupWise.

Google also continues to gain traction in government. Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it had selected Google Apps for Government for its 25,000 employees, contractors and associates. The move earns NOAA the distinction of being “the largest federal agency to complete the switch to cloud-based email and collaboration tools.”

Nearly all of Pittsburg’s 3,000 employees have made the move. The city’s former CIO Howard A. Stern, Ph.D., points to FISMA certification as one of the factors that sealed the deal. “Our data is more secure with Google than with the previous system.” Los Angeles isn’t faring as well, however. After making waves in 2009 with a five-year, $7.25 million contract for Google’s cloud services, the city had to scale back its plans citing data security requirements as they pertain to its police department.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE

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