Google Mail, Gmail for short, offered its users an increasing amount of disk space. The idea being you could keep anything and everything in your Gmail. Just search for it!
This was Google’s ideal view of email since they run a search engine and advertising service. What better way to get you to view ads and use their search than if they had all your email on their servers? And we did.
Despite it’s launch being on April 1, 2004 1, it was no joke. It touted Search, Storage and Speed and delivered on all three promises.
In the early days, Gmail would constantly increase the amount of storage space for each user. Today, Gmail sits at around 10GB per user with the option to buy more storage to be used across Google’s empire of services.
Google is great at what it does, but it teaches bad habits when they enter the corporate world. Today, many small companies and organizations use Gmail directly of their business offering with customizable domains to serve their email. However, many larger companies as well as government agencies must host their own mail servers for a variety of legal and security reasons.
In most cases, this means Microsoft Exchange servers. The endless space and ability to use email as a personal filing cabinet is not possible on Exchange-hosted email systems due to the organization running it not having Google’s capacity to offer storage space for all the messages and attachments.
Exchange-based email also enables the organization to comply with government regulations concerning security, message retention and other measures not imposed upon small companies or people. There is also an issue with a company using an email system of another company to discuss everything from Human Resources to Legal to Financial communications.
The disconnect comes from not understanding not all email is the same as gmail and there is a level of responsibility that must be used for corporate email. While there is no reason the everyday person need to understand what an Exchange server is and what it does. But they do need to understand what it means to them.
Gmail teaches it is OK to have unending amounts of email and to never think about how much mail is there or if it will ever be needed again. They assume the mail will be safe and secure forever and free.
Unfortunately, this is not the case on corporate exchange servers where there are very real, hard limits to the amount of mail they can store. On top of that, if they have the misfortune to be Entourage users, their mail can be held hostage by Entourage’s One Database To Rule Them All style of email storage. Even if they use Outlook, there are hard 2GB limits to the amount of data that can be stored in a PST 2 file.
The world of corporate email is not the same as personal email and governments and companies do not have the same resources as Google. Gmail has taught bad habits managing email as people assume the same rules apply across all email systems.
As the gap between personal and work life closes, expectations are changing and corporate IT cannot keep up with the offerings of Google.