And why not? Serena is already paying for it to the tune of 50 test users so far, so why not embrace all of GAPE? Brister said he expects to port the rest of Serena's employees to Gmail by the end of 2008.
Microsoft, which ironically is rolling out its SAAS Exchange Online and SharePoint Online solutions Nov. 17, did not respond with comments about the switch.
The move to Gmail and Google's cloud began about a year ago, when Serena CEO Jeremy Burton said he wanted to help the company innovate while cutting costs. Serena began using Gmail in an exploratory mode in December.
The decision to switch didn't come without some soul-searching, Brister said, noting that his peers in IT wondered how could he leave Microsoft, which has "paid all of my bills for years and years. Well, it makes sense for the business, and it works."
Much has been made about whether Google can successfully wrangle (Google would say "save") customers from Microsoft's large, strong grip on some 220 million in-boxes of corporations and smaller companies all over the world.
There have been some cases where Google Apps has wedged its way in the door, joining Microsoft Office. Capgemini's embrace of Google Apps in September 2007 comes to mind.
But instances where Google Apps supplants Microsoft Office entirely are far fewer, particularly for the paid GAPE offering, which Google began offering in February 2007.
That could change as Gmail and other Google Apps become more fit for enterprise use. Gmail in particular has been rolling out features that could appeal to business customers, thanks to new tools such as Gmail voice and video chat.
In the meantime, Microsoft remains king of corporate productivity and collaboration. Google is hoping for some extinction-level event to stamp out the incumbent, and has made no secret of viewing Microsoft as a dinosaur.