Rentokil Initial has signed the biggest enterprise Google Apps Premier Edition deal yet, adopting the internet services giants’ SaaS offering as the standard email platform across its six operating divisions.

The global facilities support and maintenance group has signed a deal with Google to roll out the paid-for Google Apps Premier Edition to up to 35,000 employees in over 50 countries by December 2010.

The new platform will provide all colleagues with access to their company email accounts from any internet-connected device. The collaboration and communications tool will be available to 20,000 desk-based staff as well as to 15,000 remote users such as cleaners and delivery drivers – many of whom do not currently have a company email address.

As well as offering global email access on a common interface, Rentokil Initial will use Google Apps’ calendars for scheduling, create a single global address book, integrate chat and video for training purposes and use the automatic email translation tools in Google Talk to ease communication between its many territories. Google Apps Email’s additional security and archiving features were also a factor for Rentokil Initial.

The switch is part of Rentokil Initial’s five-year turnaround plan to introduce operational excellence and consolidate the disparate information systems that existed within the divisions, bringing smaller firms acquired by Rentokil Initial under the group umbrella. The group currently owns 180 email domains, for instance, and its divisions use more than 40 proprietary or open source email systems between them as well as Microsoft Exchange. The plan is to use no more than six domains, and standardise on the browser-based Google Apps.

The implementation follows a 775-user pilot at the group’s Ambius interior landscaping division. Based in Chicago, Ambius has offices in Europe and across the southern hemisphere, and chosen for the pilot as its communications issues were typical of much of the group as a whole – staff used a variety of email systems, spoke a number of languages, and the division has recently undergone a rebranding from Initial Tropical Plants.

“By deploying Google Apps, we can overcome a wide range of technical and communications issues, and enhance our ability to deliver operational excellence throughout the organisation,” said Bryan Kinsella, CIO of Rentokil Initial.

“Importantly, the frustrations of not having access to a single company-wide email address database will disappear and the translation difficulties faced by those colleagues wanting to collaborate with others around the world will be lessened.

“Through easing the burden on the IT department, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration, we are confident that our use of Google Apps will be of huge benefit to our colleagues, customers and other stakeholders.”

The deal is the latest implementation of Google Apps in large enterprises. The University of Westminster opened up Apps to 25,500 staff and students last year, and the Telegraph Media Group began a move away from Microsoft systems with a 1400-person deployment of Google’s online software suite. Earlier this year, French car parts manufacturer Valeo made Apps available to 30,000 employees and partners through a deal managed by Google’s partner Capgemini. Other large-scale take-ups include Guardian News & Media (2400 users) and construction giant Taylor Woodrow (1800 seats).