News Corp Australia dumps Exchange for Gmail



news The new chief technology officer of publishing giant News Corp Australia has wasted no time making big changes to the organisation’s IT infrastructure model, announcing a huge formal move to Google’s mail and calendaring suite just months after taking on the position.

As the Australian division of global publishing powerhouse News Corp, News Corp Australia is one of Australia’s largest publishing companies, operating an extensive stable of newspapers, magazines and websites and with interests in other media ventures. The company is a major employer, especially of journalists, and claims to reach over 14.4 million Australians with its content.

Up until November last year, its lead technology executive was chief information officer John Pittard, who had been with the company since mid-2003. However, Pittard retired last year and was replaced by internal candidate Tom Quinn, who took the role of chief technology officer. Quinn had been reported to be interested in deploying Google’s Apps software as a service platform at News Corp. In an email to all staff issued today, the executive confirmed the deployment.

“I’m pleased to announce that we will be partnering with Google to bring the power of Google Apps to News Corp Australia,” Quinn wrote. “And I am excited because Google Apps have the ability to transform the way we communicate and work with one another. Over the next six months, we will be moving our email and calendar platforms from Microsoft Outlook to Google Mail and Calendar. We will also be setting the foundations for a wider range of powerful Google tools such as Google Drive and Hangouts. All of these tools will empower our local and global teams to work more effectively together.”

According to Quinn, some of the benefits from the move will include a boost of online email storage from 2GB to 30GB, enabling team work through Google’s Drive document sharing platform and Hangouts instant messaging and collaboration tool, both of which he said would “help unleash the power of team work within the organisation”, as well as easy access to mail, calendar and contacts applications without the need for a virtual private network and the ability to search and find emails faster.

In addition, Quinn noted that Google’s email and calendar apps are “in line with that current available to the consumer”, making it easier for staff to adopt the systems.

“This is the first step on our journey to Going Google, one that will allow us to select from the extensive Google suite of products to meet our business needs,” Quinn wrote. “We are committed to providing the best systems and tools available to our employees and Going Google is a great way to strengthen the tools we offer.”

Quinn invited News Corp staff who were “ready to join the Google movement early” to join News Corp Australia’s early adopter program, which would enable staff to migrate early to the new platform “before all your other team mates”, and get involved in testing the new system.

News Corp is not the only major publisher to deploy Google Apps within its organisation. In July 2012 fellow publisher Fairfax announced plans to ditch Microsoft’s Office and Exchange platforms for most of its 11,000-odd staff, with the company to become one of the largest known Australian organisations to shift onto Google’s Apps platform for both email and office productivity software. Retail giant Woolworths has also announced a switch to Google Apps, which kicked off in April 2013.

The news also comes as Google’s wider platforms — including its operating system, Chrome OS — have started to gain traction as a replacement for Microsoft Windows in certain situations in Australia. Woolworths is also deploying the platform, and emergency services agency Fire and Rescue NSW told Computerworld last week that its own deployment of the platform had been highly successful.

It was only a matter of time before News Corp followed Fairfax into Google Apps. The cost factor, as well as the platform’s ease of use and collaboration features, make it ideal for publishers, in my opinion. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me about this, however — I know plenty of journalists who are wedded to Outlook and wouldn’t switch off it if someone paid them ;)


  1. You can still use outlook with Gmail. But I think you’d be nuts to use exchange these days

      • Risk vs. Reward. The potential problems just don’t outweigh the cost savings.

        Speaking as an IT Security guy, if my client made the decision to use Google Apps with full knowledge of the threats, I’d happily tell them to do it.

    • Like a lot of MS Products, Outlook has set back Email for years. It’s a knee capped, unreliable product that needs to die in a fire.

      Though we seem to have fewer problems since migrating away from Exchange on the backend.

      • in what way has outlook set back email??

        perhaps you haven’t been using it correctly, or it wasn’t set up correctly.

        name one thing that outlook can’t do for a large organisation?

        • If you’ve had a look under the covers at the kind of HTML Outlook produces for HTML formatted emails you’d understand.

          All I noted years ago when the company I was working for was using an alternative product was grief over the fact that the emails from people who used outlook didn’t look right. Meaning the mantra was, businesses must use outlook to be able to properly do business with over business. Competition is a good thing. Like IE6, Outlook stifled it for years.

          Lets not forget Winmail.dat…

          Also it’s a fat client. I started using web based email in the early 90’s and still use web based email. I just don’t see the point of a clunky fat client, especially in the days of modern browser experiences. I believe they are even close to having proper easy to utilise offline modes, which is the only saving grace of a fat client.

          • Nifty! I personally have no use for it. If I’m away from an internet connection it’s generally an intentional method to enjoy down time without technology.

          • i’ve looked, and if the html is designed correctly, then there shouldn’t be a problem….

            and for those that state that it is just ’email and a little bit of calendering’, perhaps you should go and see a business that has a full microsoft stack that integrates outlook, exchange, lync, sharepoint and office.

            not saying it’s the be all and end all, but to say that outlook stifled email and it is just for email and a bit of calendering, is just wrong and those people obviously have never seen it implemented properly.

            if you don’t need the full integration that it offers, then don’t use it, but don’t blame outlook when poor implementation of the whole stack might be the problem.

          • If the html is designed correctly?? The client spits it out based on the WYSIWYG editor and it’s even worse if you are using Word as your editor, which is how most people use it.

            I’ve seen businesses with the Full stack. SharePoint, Exchange, Lync etc. They spend _a lot_ of money, to get an incredibly difficult to manage suite of products, which of of the box do very little. I’m convinced they exist only to line the pockets of MS and the Consultants that charge $250+ an hour to configure it.

            Or you can go get a Google Apps account for $50/yr, with the lot already integrated.

          • Why are you concentrating on Outlook as the source of debate? The original article discusses the internal messaging infrastructure which has nothing to do with end client delivery. The discussion is about server infrastructure. It is a fact though that Outlook is part of the MS offerings included as part of eCAL licensing and those people running Exchange often have a sensible relationship with MS… which assumes Outlook is used along with the other office applications…which happen to be used by over 90% of the business community worldwide. It;s about ease of collaboration. If everyone uses X or Y product, then market dominance dictates that this is what everyone else uses. This will dilute as we move forward, but as Shannon Pace points out above – it can’t be that bad if most of the world is using it. Lotus Notes was a great product – but badly implemented and hard to scale. Outlook does a pretty good job considering the limitations of MAPI.

          • perhaps you should read that article again. it makes NO mention of outlook, exchange or google apps.

            it talks about programming, which is a TOTALLY different beast.

            if anything is off-topic, that article is.

            you should use what works for you and your business needs. if google apps fits that bill, then use it. but for a LOT of businesses, properly configured exchange and outlook implementations suit their needs perfectly.

          • The philosophy behind the article is sound. It talks about “Industry Best Practice” and why it’s a fallacy, it’s something that applies to many things beyond the programming it talks about at it’s core. People have believed MS Products are Industry Best practice and “Everyone Else uses it so it must be good”, for years.

            Articles like this just go to show that the massive Inertia MS has is no longer enough and there are better ways than spending 100s of thousands of dollars to maintain and license on premises infrastructure and software.

          • don’t confuse exchange ‘inertia’ with microsoft’s obvious ‘mobile/phone’ inertia…

            microsoft’s exchange communication business division is a BILLION dollar business unit. with increasing revenues every year. i’d say that their doing OK.

            “People have believed MS Products are Industry Best practice and “Everyone Else uses it so it must be good”, for years.”

            that’s because if it is implemented in a way that suits the business and is implemented correctly, it IS good. you said yourself that you haven’t used outlook for years. how would you know what outlook/exchange can and can’t do now?

            “Articles like this just go to show that the massive Inertia MS has is no longer enough and there are better ways than spending 100s of thousands of dollars to maintain and license on premises infrastructure and software.”

            when was the last time you implemented and costed an exchange implementation? no one doubts that the price is higher than others, but if done correctly, in conjunction with other products that the business can use, that is money worth spending.

            again, as previously stated, if your business does not require a full microsoft stack, that exchange is a part of, and they don’t require it to be on-site and the business cannot afford the licensing, then use google apps or another alternative.

          • I personally don’t use Outlook (I do have it running in a VM though, just to keep up with how it works), but I have to support it. I also investigated, planned and costed an Exchange implementation to properly consider whether to Upgrade our existing Exchange infrastructure or move to an alternative platform. From a cost standpoint it was a no brainer to move to something else (we still host it onsite). From an integration perspective there are better products on the market.

            Personally I would have loved to migrate to Google Apps, but it’s Outlook integration wasn’t great at the time. One of our requirements was that any solution must operate seamlessly with Outlook.

          • “If the html is designed correctly?? The client spits it out based on the WYSIWYG editor and it’s even worse if you are using Word as your editor, which is how most people use it.”

            maybe with older versions of outlook, but version 2010 and 2013 handle it pretty well. anything older, and you are comparing apples with oranges, with how html was then and is today.

            “I’ve seen businesses with the Full stack. SharePoint, Exchange, Lync etc. They spend _a lot_ of money, to get an incredibly difficult to manage suite of products, which of of the box do very little”

            once again, if they are finding them incredibly difficult to manage, then they are doing it wrong. and ‘do very little’?? compared to what? google apps?

            “I’m convinced they exist only to line the pockets of MS and the Consultants that charge $250+ an hour to configure it.”

            i certainly don’t charge that much and i can get a properly configured stack going for thousands of users that is easy to manage (with the correct tools). once again, don’t blame poor implementation.

          • and the winmail.dat issue?

            that’s a perfect example of a poorly implemented solution for the business need.

            it’s a configuration issue, nothing more. if the implementation is done correctly, that problem will not appear.

    • You said it.

      How Microsoft have got companies to fork out fortunes for Exchange all these years remains a mystery.

      20 years or so ago, when it first came it out, it did email and bit of calendaring. And despite Microsoft’s numerous attempts to tout it as a “groupware platform”, still all it does is email and a bit of calendaring.

      There’s a bazillion open source products that do the same thing, at less cost, on site or in the cloud. They don’t need Exchanges highly costly OS and hardware upgrades every release either.

  2. They won’t be the first to move to Google and won’t be the first to move back either.
    The good thing about hosting your own exchange server is your internal emails stay private.

  3. So are you saying that no one has ever come back from the cloud? Or are you looking for examples of when companies have decided their new cloud based provider wasn’t working?

  4. It would be interesting to know what version of on-premise Exchange they are moving away from here, to see if that was a factor. Staff will have become used to working with Outlook, and will need to adjust to working with Google for email – especially for Shared Mailboxes with complex rules setup.

    Through our consulting ( we have seen many migrations to the cloud, and also a small number coming back to on-premise Exchange. The companies that have returned from the cloud have done so due to frustration with service outages (O365), or due to a merger with a larger company (which has on-premise Exchange).

    Looking forward to finding out how they progress with the migration.

  5. Cost savings are rarely a satisfactory driver in email migrations. Once your data is in the Cloud, you should understand that there is an inevitable loss of control, to a lesser or greaterd degree, depending on which hosting service used. I have yet to meet any ‘power’ email users who find Google Apps as a fully rounded and genuine replacement for Microsoft Exchange…add to this removal of the MS Office suite in above story I’m sure will lead to a key loss of productivity until the Google product matures.

    The Cloud is here to stay…but I suspect on-premise will be here for some considerable time to come, based on the experiences of my own consulting company (!

  6. @Ed @Adrian I migrated a large customer here in Canada back from the Cloud last year to on-prem Exchange 2013. Why? Three years ago they migrated away from Ex2003 to the cloud but found out as an IT dept they would be involved in mergers and acquisitions. Every time they wanted to do ANYTHING with user data out of the ordinariness they had to open a Support ticket, often getting poor quality of technical response.

    When I did their migration I found to my horror that the hosting company had no physical access to their own data centre. So they could not go and plug in an external drive and export 1500 mailboxes to PST. Did I tell you that no migration tools could be installed in the hosting environment….? In fact they had to copy those mailboxes first across a slow 1mb/s site to site VPN link…the to the external drive…then send it to me via FedEx. By the time I got the data 3 weeks later it was 3 weeks out of date.

    The moral to the story is that there is no $$$ incentive to get you OUT of the Cloud should you need to leave. And as more companies are hosting email in the Cloud, it is a fact that this scenario will arise more frequently…if your company gets bought over and they run Exchange…your users are in for a bad time. Over 90% of the install base worldwide is still Exchange and this will be the case for many years to come.

      • everything documented in that article is achievable with outlook and exchange.

        all it is talking about is exporting data to a readable format (example: CSV). exchange and outlook can do that too….

        the email item in particular only talks about exporting to a POP or IMAP account. every email software vendor can do that…

  7. @Ed …IT allows you the tools to do your job more efficiently. But it is NOT all about cost…in fact that thinking usually costs IT Managers money in the long run by not understanding business vs technical drivers. I say that with 13 years experience – your simplification of the issues illustrates everything wrong with the sales and marketing hype surrounding many Cloud offerings.

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