I’ve been trying to move my company to Gmail, or to be more accurate a Google Apps hosted domain. I like the $50 a year per account price tag and I like the 25Gb per account. But I’ve hit some serious snags that should make anyone think twice about moving a serious email use to Google.
First a word about what we were trying to accomplish. Our company uses about 100 IMAP mail accounts. We would like to improve the uptime we are seeing over the CentOS Cyrus IMAP server we are running. Its a good server, but the amount of traffic we are experiencing plus the current levels of Spam sometimes leave it choking. We don’t have the staff time or expertise to “make it better” so we have been looking for an outsource solution that won’t break the bank. Enter Google.
The first problem we encountered was Google’s lack of folders. No folders is ok, there is nothing wrong with Labels, but that means that the migration tools Google provides for users can only see one directory in each of the existing IMAP accounts. It expects to see one folder with all the mail in it that it can import into Gmail’s All Mail, the only folder it actually has. The fact that NOBODY but Google does things this way apparently did not enter the mind of the people writing the software.
So we’ll do it manually using Thunderbird or something. There are only 5 or 6 accounts with really serious amounts of mail in them. Shouldn’t be a problem. But nooooooo. Google IMAP is a little different from other IMAP in ways that makes standard IMAP clients loose their connection rather more frequently than is really good, so uploading serious amounts of email can take more than a day for a single account. Even then you have to spoon feed Gamil or it will choke. There are more way’s that Gmail IMAP is not standard, here is a good article on the subject.
But then comes the worst part: Lockdown in Sector 4 (failure). If you’ve never experienced this it has to be seen to be believed. Google has an algorithm that looks for patterns like too many attempts to send mail in a period of time, too many uploads or downloads etc. The purpose of this is to defeat spammers and keep people from generally abusing their servers. But if you have large accounts that you’re uploading to Google or downloading to a client for local access, whamo, you could be shut off from IMAP access for 24 hours.
And as if that were not bad enough, how about the inability to ever, and I mean ever, talk to a human being about any problems you’re having, even though you paid for Premium accounts.
Google needs to to a lot better than this if they expect to have companies depend on them for their infrastructure.