Spanish banking giant BBVA is to roll out Google Apps for Business to 110,000 employees in what will be the biggest Google Apps rollout to date.
Some experts argue the move marks a watershed for take-up of public cloud services in Europe, particularly as the financial industry has tighter regulatory and security requirements than other sectors.
And although the BBC has reported that BBVA only plans to put internal information into the public cloud initially, Nathalie Moreno, partner at law firm Speechly Bircham said she thought the deal would mark the beginning of a deeper relationship between the bank and the cloud provider.
The migration is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
The Google Apps for Business suite includes Gmail with Google Chat, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Groups, Google Sites and Google Video.
The product will be rolled out to 35,000 BBVA workers in Spain initially before being deployed to all 110,000 employees across 26 countries.
As a result of the upgrade, BBVA's global intranet will go from being a corporate communications and process management site to an interactive knowledge sharing site that will act as a social network.
BBVA workers will be able to access the network from any internet-connected device and so will be more flexible and mobile than they were previously, according to the company.
Sebastien Marotte, vice president of Google Enterprise EMEA, said: "It means a lot to us that BBVA, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, has decided to migrate to Google Apps. It shows that cloud computing is now a reality – and leading organisations are realising its potential to transform their business."
Moreno said moves by the European Commission to draw up regulations on cloud computing could lead to many more such deals in the financial sector.
"BBVA's announcement of its adoption of Google Apps for Business is a clear signal of the impact and importance that the European Commission's consultation and communication has had on the development of the European cloud computing strategy.
"Legal and regulatory certainty [is a key prerequisite to] take-up of new technical solutions.
"Once the framework has been agreed, banks are likely to become the new big customers of the cloud providers," she added.
The EC's recent consultation on cloud computing followed a blog written by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes in March 2010 advocating regulation and the creation of standards around cloud computing to enable its success in Europe.
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