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Rentokil inks Google Apps deal

Biggest ever rollout for cloud-based suite

By Steve Evans

Google has signed Rentokil Initial to its cloud-based Apps service. The rollout, to up to 35,000 workers, is the largest Apps contract Google has signed.

Rentokil Initial, a support services company, will be rolling out Google Apps Premier Edition across its international workforce to provide a single web-based communication and collaboration platform that will replace the group’s existing 180 email domains and 40 mail systems. Workers will now be able to access email from any Internet-connected device.

Bryan Kinsella, the firm’s CIO, told CBR that collaboration and communication between workers was the main issue with the group’s legacy system. “We had over 40 different mail systems spread across the group,” he said, “and they were built and deployed on a local basis without any standard within the group.”

As part of a five-year project to overhaul its IT infrastructure the firm decided to revamp its mail systems. Initially Rentokil was looking to install a standard server setup, but decided that due to cost and expertise within the firm that would present too big a challenge, Kinsella said. As cloud computing grew in prominence within IT the company turned its attention to Google Apps.

After a 100-day pilot phase involving 800 users from its Ambius division, Kinsella said that Rentokil was sufficiently impressed to commence a company-wide rollout. Deployment is expected by the end of 2010. It expects around 35,000 workers to be using the system when rollout is complete, with 15,000 of those being remote workers.

“Before we conducted the pilot,” Kinsella said, “we were unaware of a lot of the issues that remote workers were having because they were not on email. But now they can check their email accounts wherever they are and it makes communication much easier.”

As well as email access, workers at Rentokil will also get personal and shared calendar access, integrated chat and video features, which the company says will support training and improve productivity, and automatic email translation and real-time translation in Google Talk. Moving to a single web-based email platform will also provide a global address book on contacts throughout the company’s six international divisions.

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Although Rentokil is expecting significant reductions to its IT costs, Kinsella said that the business benefits it offered were more important. “The cost is an advantage, but improved IT is the key,” he said. “We have a rigorous system that we can deploy quickly when we need to.”

The contract win for Google is another step on the road to widespread enterprise adoption of its Apps suite. It was recently announced the a number of UK universities had signed up to the hosted service, offering over 100,000 students access to collaboration and communication apps.

The Telegraph Media Group moved 1,500 workers to Google Apps in July 2008, while the Guardian News and Media Group migrated 2,400 earlier this year. Before this announcement, the previous biggest enterprise rollout of Google Apps was with French manufacturer Valeo, where 30,000 workers were signed up.

“The international scope of Rentokil Initial’s business, with operations in so many different locations, presents a need for a homogeneous environment which unifies workforce, encourages collaboration and allows for a high level of flexibility and mobility,” said Robert Whiteside, head of Google Enterprise UK, Ireland and Benelux.

Rentokil Initial’s five-year IT revamp project also includes an single UK-wide network infrastructure, consolidated data centres and increased investment in handheld devices across the organisation.


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