Google is offering a new version of Gmail service designed for domain users. It is intended to replace a domains email server with a virtual one at Google. The idea is interesting. All users at the domain would access their mail via the Gmail web based user interface, but rather than having an email address of email@example.com, they would use their own domain (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This seems like a winning solution for both the domain users and Google. Google gets to insert ad content into every email that is received by the users while the users get a fast and efficient way to access their email no matter where they are. Users would not be forced to use Gmail’s web based interface as they would also have access via standard POP3 email clients. The domain also has benefits from the redundancies of Google mail system. Odds are very good that Google will have a better backup strategy and greater redundancy than most major corporations. Users would also have the benefit of Gmail’s powerful spam filtering technology. This would be reason enough for many to make the transition.
The only down side is that the mail server is out of the IT managers direct control. Of course the domain’s manager would be able to manager the accounts, but all of the email is stored off site which represents potential security concerns. Should Google have a security breach or suffer some sort of exploitation, sensitive corporate information could be exposed.
Given the trade-offs, I am extremely interested in testing the service. Google is currently seeking beta testers to work the kinks out of the service before it goes public. Little more is know about it at this time. Will it be free? Probably. It is likely that Google’s ultimate motivation is the untold revenues generated by the context sensitive ads that will be placed beside each email message.
Checkout this link for more information on the beta test.