The two companies are locked in an international battle to win over education sector users to their cloud platforms. Google’s biggest local win came through the NSW Department of Education and Training which has deployed Google Apps for 1.2 million users; Microsoft meanwhile has recently won a Catholic schools deal in Mexico where 4.5 million students will use Office 365.
The Catholic Education Network (CEnet) which has signed up to use Google Apps in 740 sites in NSW, Queensland, the ACT and NT is paying nothing for the system according to Ian Gregory, its manager of IT systems as Google makes the platform freely available to schools. Nor will the users of the system see any advertising.
While Google isn’t making money out of the deal Mr Gregory said that there was a benefit to the company in that school students which used the system would emerge “well versed in the Google space” when they leave school and entered the workforce.
It’s a tried and tested approach from technology companies, pioneered by AT&T which made Unix available for free to university students in the hope that when they entered the workforce, they would ask their employers to use the software. The approach proved highly successful.
“If you look at a typical mail deployment you need a storage network manager, a network engineer and server experts. Now I can have my team in administrative mode rather than engineering mode,” he said.
Also CEnet’s infrastructure costs will be sliced as the Google apps platform will be hosted on Google’s cloud and provide 25 Gbyte mail boxes for every user, for free. Moving to the cloud has also allowed CEnet to reduce the number of servers it manages from 30 to four.