Spanish bank to move 100,000+ employees to Google Apps

This marks the largest deployment of Google Apps to date

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) is adopting Google Apps for email and collaboration and expects to have its about 110,000 employees worldwide using the suite by the end of this year.

The rollout will start in the bank's home base, Spain, where it has 35,000 employees, and it will continue in more than 26 other countries, the companies said in a joint statement.

When completed, BBVA's implementation of Apps will be the largest ever for Google's cloud-based communication and collaboration suite, which includes applications like Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Docs and Talk, as well as a variety of IT security and management features.

Jose Olalla, BBVA's CIO, said in a blog post that the bank's goals in moving to Google Apps is to help employees collaborate better and be more efficient, and "transform our business operations."

"Integrating the Google Apps for Business suite with our own tools will allow us to introduce a new way of working where employees have access to all the information they need with just one click, no matter where they are or what kind of device they use, and can reap the benefits of using advanced collaboration tools," Olalla wrote.

Neither the statement nor the blog post mention what email and collaboration system or systems BBVA is replacing with Google Apps.

A BBVA spokesman said via email that the companies aren't disclosing any financial information about the deal. Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"This is big news for Google. They've struggled to get large referenceable deployments for Google Apps," said Rebecca Wettemann, a Nucleus Research analyst.

Google Enterprise Vice President Amit Singh told IDG News Service last month that the company planned to soon announce several customer wins for Google Apps that exceed 100,000 users.

Google is locked into an intense fight with Microsoft in the market for cloud-based collaboration and communication suites. Although Microsoft has historically dominated this market with its on-premise products like Outlook, Exchange and SharePoint, Google has emerged as a real threat as customers move to cloud-based offerings.

Microsoft's entry in this cloud-based market was until mid-2011 its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which didn't stack up very well against Google Apps, so Microsoft released a much stronger alternative called Office 365.

"Cloud collaboration is a growing opportunity in 2012, particularly as Microsoft invests in legitimizing the space," Wettemann said via e-mail. "Google will have to work to prove itself as an enterprise-level SaaS [software-as-a-service] provider -- with all the reliability and security of more recognized enterprise vendors -- to move beyond pockets of large-enteprise wins."

Now Google Apps and Office 365 are competing head-to-head, as more and more businesses of all sizes opt to switch from on-premise email and collaboration systems to cloud-based suites.

For Google, the BBVA deal is significant, not only because of the number of end users involved, but also because the customer is a large, multinational bank with strict data compliance, security and regulatory requirements that must be satisfied by the vendors it buys software from.

For that reason, this customer win is also good for the cloud-based enterprise software market in general, said Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz.

"Given the highly regulated environment, [this customer win] continues to increase the viability of SaaS based collaboration offerings," he said via e-mail.

Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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