by Hamish Barwick

Flight Centre migrates to Google Apps

Nov 18, 2010
IT ManagementProject Management

Faced with disparate email and collaboration systems, Flight Centre CIO, Peter Wataman, made a fateful decision to attend a Google breakfast on Cloud computing one year ago.

Despite his initial scepticism about Google’s expertise in the corporate space, that breakfast led to Wataman to conduct a trial of the company’s enterprise application suite, Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE).

“It took six months to get to a point where they convinced us that they had a good offering that was going to work well in our environment,” he said.

Read the pros and cons for Google Apps.

According to Wataman, running multiple email systems, including Microsoft Outlook for its 13,000 global employees, meant upgrading and licensing those systems.

“We went through an evaluation process where we looked at hosted offerings, internal solutions and cloud, before embarking on a campaign to standardise our global platforms,” he said.

Two hundred Australian employees took part in the trial, run mid this year, before Wataman decided to purchase GAPE.

“The technology was one of the aspects because we needed to get a new email system,” he said. “Not only is there cost benefits but employees get 25 GB of email space each as opposed to 150 MB.

“Our users are very excited about the prospect of not having to constantly delete emails.”

Flight Centre has migrated 3000 users to the email system and plans to roll it out to employees in other countries by the end of its financial year in June 2011.

So far it has cut 30 per cent of email costs through the implementation.

“From my perspective one of the big fears is the acceptance of this solution in a work environment,” he said. “We went to the trouble of surveying 2000 of our employees and the first question asked was ‘Have you used Gmail?’ Over 90 per cent said, ‘Yes’.”

“That gave us confidence because people generally don’t get excited about technology change because they get worried about if it will work properly,” he said.

Flight Centre is not developing anything in Google Apps at the moment, Wataman said, however, the company was exploring developing a travel management service application.

“The immediate benefit we see is in rapid deployment of the email service and people using it,” he said.