Sanmina’s move to Google Apps lets employees focus on innovation

Above: Elliot Tally, senior director of enterprise applications at Sanmina, speaks about the company's move from some Microsoft applications to Google Apps at CloudBeat today.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

SAN FRANCISCO — Sanmina makes its money by manufacturing printed circuit boards and other gear for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), so clearly the company’s core competency isn’t running servers for other people. It moved from Microsoft to Google for services such as e-mail and document storage and reaped a few benefits as a result, said Elliot Tally, Sanmina’s senior director of enterprise applications, at today’s CloudBeat 2013 conference — including saving money.

Some employees were not too keen on shifting to a new set of programs. Tally and his team “did … forcibly remove Outlook from everyone’s machine when we migrated them,” he told Mark Thiele, the executive vice president of data center technology at Switch. And the rest of Microsoft Office was also removed, he said. It’s no small task, as Sanmina has tens of thousands of employees. But the shift to Google Apps freed multiple people to work on other projects.

“Historically, IT was a cost center,” Tally said. “Even if IT’s still not adding revenue, we’re costing much less and adding more supportive value to the business.”

The number of people on his team who work on innovation and business transformation is now growing as fewer and fewer staffers work on traditional enterprise applications, Tally said. It sounds like a cultural change is afoot, and Sanmina’s use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications from Google appears to be an enabler here.

While products such as Gmail have been gaining ground, concerns about from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations have created uncertainty around what might happen to critical data. Time will tell if such concerns will limit the adoption of cloud applications such as the ones Google offers, but right now some enterprises have certainly made the jump and are enjoying some positive effects.

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