Editor's note: Continuing our “Going Google Everywhere” series, we’ve invited Jeff Hulett, Founder and CTO of Vektrex, an electronics company that produces LED and laser power sources and reliability test systems. Located in San Diego, California, Vektrex makes products to help companies develop energy-saving LED illumination. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map.
Spam was killing our server
Vektrex had been successfully hosting its own email using Microsoft’s Exchange Server for years. It had always been pretty simple: our IT person, Mike, occasionally did updates to our Microsoft Exchange server, and our dozen or so employees used Outlook to access their accounts.
Then, a while back, the job became much tougher. With several longstanding email addresses, we started to receive a lot of spam. My account started getting one or two spam emails per minute – and our CEO received many times that amount. Mike tried various programs to filter the spam, but each was eventually overwhelmed. We suffered with monthly email outages that lasted a few hours – or even days – despite Mike’s all-nighters. After a lot of discussion, we finally decided that we would try moving our email to external hosting at our next outage. We chose Gmail because it seemed like a good fit for the size of our company. The conversion to Gmail itself was very simple and fast; we were able to move our accounts quickly and easily. Initially we stayed with Outlook as our client and we used the IMAP interface with local caching. As time passed, we found most users choosing the native Gmail web interface, so eventually we moved the whole company to it.
Gmail can display folders
After moving to Gmail’s interface, we had to learn the differences between Outlook and Gmail. The main difference in the beginning was the way that emails are displayed, sorted and archived. Gmail offers labels instead of folders. Labels give you the ability to "tag" one email with several key words and Gmail provides ways to move/archive tagged messages in folders, providing functionality that makes everything more familiar and useful to our users.
The last remaining issue was email access on our cell phones and PDAs. To optimize functionality with our business accounts that include our own domain name, we moved initially to Palm Treos and then to HTC Androids, which worked flawlessly with Gmail's business accounts.
Converting is work but Gmail is worth it
When we started the conversion, IT staffers were a little reluctant to abandon the independence and control we felt we had with our own server. But we overcame our reluctance and the end result was worth it. I see only a few spam emails per week, and we haven't had a significant outage in over a year.
Vektrex employees are re-focused on our core products – reliability test systems for LEDs – rather than on keeping things up and running. The switch has saved roughly $500 per month in IT labor. It was also more economical than a hardware spam filter costing at least $1,000 up front, $350 in yearly fees, and an unknown amount to administer. Even Mike is happy. He finally got some well-earned time off - and the chance to drive his 1970 Volkswagen beetle in a 1,000-mile off road race through the Baja desert!
Vektrex IT Administrator Mike Zavos takes a vacation
after switching the company to GMail
Posted by Serena Satyasai, the Google Apps team
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