Google is locked into an intense fight with Microsoft in the market for cloud-based collaboration and communication suites. Although Microsoft has historically dominated this market with its on-premise products like Outlook, Exchange and SharePoint, Google has emerged as a real threat as customers move to cloud-based offerings.
Microsoft's entry in this cloud-based market was until mid-2011 its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which didn't stack up very well against Google Apps, so Microsoft released a much stronger alternative called Office 365.
Now Google Apps and Office 365 are competing head-to-head, as more and more businesses of all sizes opt to switch from on-premise email and collaboration systems to cloud-based suites.
For Google, the BBVA deal is significant, not only because of the number of end users involved, but also because the customer is a large, multinational bank with strict data compliance, security and regulatory requirements that must be satisfied by the vendors it buys software from.
Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.