Roche getting entire workforce to use Google Apps

Swiss drug giant Roche ($RHHBY) has generated buzz in the tech press for deciding to adopt Google Apps for its more than 90,000 workers, using the cloud-based software as a way to connect its global workforce without the IT headaches of managing email and calendar software in its own data centers.

Roche CIO and financial chief Alan Hippe wrote last week that the company went through a couple of email and calendaring platforms over the past two and a half years that stymied collaboration. "To end these platform interoperability issues, the Roche Corporate Executive Committee made the decision that all employees will move to Google Apps as the single common platform for the Roche Group," he wrote.

Roche, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs, and other large biopharma companies have looked at cloud-based software systems as a way to reduce the strain on their IT support groups, as such applications have been known to require significantly less internal management than local software that lives in the companies' own data centers. Eli Lilly ($LLY), for instance, tapped Amazon's cloud platform several years ago over expanding its own IT infrastructure.

For Roche's part, the company decided to use Google Apps after a review of cloud-based systems. With workers in 140 countries, Hippe wrote, the company expects that the social aspects of Google's ($GOOG) apps will help bring those workers closer together amid efforts to develop products for patients. Employees will also be able to access the Google software with any web-connected device.

"Removing barriers to communication and innovation while enhancing mobile access is a key part of our Roche IT strategy," Roche's CIO wrote.

- here's Hippe's blog on the move
- see Datamation's coverage