BBVA in last phase of 110K seat Google Apps deployment

In the works since 2012, the Spanish bank's global rollout of the cloud suite is expected to end this year with the US implementation

When Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) rolls out Google Apps to its U.S. staff this year, it will wrap up a deployment that started in 2012 for its 110,000 employees globally.

The Spanish bank hopes that having its entire workforce using the cloud email and collaboration suite will help it sharpen productivity and transform how employees interact.

Along with Google Apps, BBVA has deployed a global intranet that it developed in house and hosts on Google App Engine, Google's platform as a service (PaaS) offering.

With the intranet and Apps' email, calendar, IM, cloud storage, file sharing, audio/video communications and office productivity software, BBVA wants to simplify and improve the way employees find, contact and collaborate with colleagues, regardless of where they're located and what computing device they're using -- smartphone, tablet or PC.

"This gives us a very good way to improve the productivity of employees," said Gabriel Sanchez Iniesta, CIO of BBVA Compass, the bank's U.S. financial institution, which operates 684 branches. "Now we're collaborating, co-creating and co-editing in the same space."

This is particularly important at a large global company like BBVA, which is based in Spain and has operations in more than 25 other countries, he said.

The original plan called for the global implementation of Google Apps to be finished in late 2012, but regulatory considerations delayed it in the U.S., where the bank has about 11,000 employees.

"In the U.S., we've been working with the regulators to make sure we're fully understanding our responsibilities," he said, referring to U.S. rules and laws governing the proper use of cloud-hosted software and data in the financial industry.

The intranet will carry bank news that relevant to employees globally, but it will also have sections for local information that varies from place to place and that regional staffers will be able to generate, he said.

Although BBVA isn't using Apps' website builder Sites product for the intranet, workgroups at the department level use it to build "microsites" on an ad hoc basis for collaborating on their projects, content and tasks.

As it rolls out Google Apps, BBVA has been shutting down a variety of heterogeneous email and collaboration systems installed on its premises, including Microsoft's Exchange, which was used by its 35,000 employees in Spain.

When the deal was announced in January 2012, Google said it would be the largest single deployment of the suite's Business edition up until then.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the implementation delay in the U.S. and whether the deployment still ranks at the largest for Apps for Business.

Google and Microsoft are locked in a vicious fight in the market for cloud email and collaboration suites. The competition has intensified significantly since Microsoft released Office 365 in mid-2011.

Prior to that, Microsoft's entry in the market, called Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), didn't measure up well against Google Apps, which has been around since 2007.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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