Although it’s very cool to post on the corporate message board: ‘Hey - why don’t we save the company millions of dollars by using Linux, Gmail and OpenOffice ?’, there are obvious barriers (security and Excel luddites to name but two) to large corporations adopting server based software.

However, I always thought Google Mail would be an obvious fit for academic institutions to reduce the costs of software licenses and IT management. Adoption of such ‘software as a service’ would make sense as although some students are ’late risers’, the majority could also be classified as ’early adopters’ who are comfortable with the technology.

This recent announcement that the Department of Education in New South Wales will roll out (a customised version of ) Google Mail to 1.5 million students is an interesting development.

The cost of the new system will be $9.5 million as opposed to the $33 million for the previous Exchange/Outlook based solution with students getting an increased quota of 6GB (previously a miserly 35MB).

Although the initial contract is purely for email services for students only (no Google Talk), the obvious extension is to include Google Docs and Spreadsheets to displace Microsoft Office.