Google Apps for Business – is it right for business?

This post is by Elliott Zissmann

This post consists of  2 parts

 The top 13 things to consider – Part 1.

You may have heard of Microsoft Cloud 365, where the software giant is offering hosted versions of its popular Office Suite, as well as Exchange for email and SharePoint for collaboration. From meetings with Microsoft we know they are doing this in direct response to competition from Google with the Google Apps Premier Edition.

But is this a service they should worry about? Is this something businesses should consider?

 First, what are the Google Apps?

There are two areas:

 1. Messaging applications, including Gmail and Google Calendar. These come with advanced security from Postini, synchronisation with BlackBerry and 25GB of storage.

2. Collaboration applications, including Google Docs. These are programmes accessed through a browser and designed to be similar to Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

For a low annual cost (currently $50/user/year) you get these, plus 24/7 phone and email support and a 99.9% uptime guarantee.


All of that for about £30 a year? Where do I sign?

 Well, the technical answer to that is here

However, before you do so, let’s ask some questions. After all, at Fifosys we like to provide independent information on different solutions so that our clients, armed with this knowledge, and awareness of the risks, costs and benefits, can make the right decisions for them.

 In no particular order, here are the points you should consider:

 1. Email – Gmail, used by many people for their personal email accounts, threads the messages into conversations which many people find this confusing. Are you comfortable with how it works or do you think you might use it in conjunction with Outlook? (in which case you’re losing some of the advantages of the log-in anywhere benefit). As a substitute for Exchange, group policies and permissions are a little more difficult to set and the Outlook Web Access is an easy to use tool when you’re out of the office.

2. Calendar – we find this more difficult to integrate with Outlook, which means if you are using outlook for your emails, it will be frustrating.  But as a standalone piece of software it’s great. However, are you looking for a standalone scheduling software or you want a fully integrated application?

 3. Docs – MS Word equivalent:  as Google say, this is a collaboration tool – great for sharing documents with people that work in different offices. But it nowhere near offers the functions that Word does. Have you  tried it out? In our opinion, it’s like using Word Perfect 5.0 (basically Word Pad), and producing professional documents such as proposals would be tricky.

 4. Docs – MS Excel equivalent: OK, so most of us use Excel as a simple way to list data, rather than producing an array of pivot tables. But again, the functionality is very basic. And do you need to collaborate? How often do two people work on the same spreadsheet at the same time?

 5. Docs – PowerPoint equivalent: we love PowerPoint for the rich user experience it gives us, being able to produce professional slides, integrated with videos and images. The Google Presentations application is nowhere near this unfortunately, and when it comes to working on very large files (which PowerPoints can be) it can be clunky. How important are PowerPoint presentations to your business? 

6. Are you online all the time? Going down the Google route means you will have no local licences or data. Fine for many, but would it concern you as a business if you couldn’t do anything offline? And if you had a wobble in your connectivity in the middle of writing a document…

 7. Do you need to collaborate on every document or spreadsheet in “real-time” with multiple colleagues across the world?  Or do you take a more traditional “I’ll work it on first and then you review it” approach?   Some businesses decide that if two people are to work on a document together at exactly the same time, they sit next to each other with one version – is this your business?

Part 2 will be published

Written by Guest Author

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