Going to the cloud is not a matter of if, but when. Email is the big thing; email is one of the major draws in getting companies to look at online solutions. There are two primary vendors providing robust email services online, Microsoft and Google.
This article will describe these two offerings, as well as provide a comparison between them (Office 365 vs. Google Apps).
Microsoft Office 365 has four main components: Exchange online, SharePoint online, Lync online (which is Microsoft’s Unified Communication suite offering presence, Instant Messaging, and Voice), and Office Professional Plus. Offered for on-premise (offline) use, with the proper licensing tier, Office 2013 Pro is typical installed on local computers, while the Office Web Apps are offered in the browser.
Please note that there are differences in regards to functionality in what the Office suite allows you to do in the browser compared to what you can do with the on-premise (offline) install. Mail hosted online can be delivered to your Outlook client on-premise and also accessed in the browser, offering a hybrid environment. The key is that you no longer have to manage a mail server (Exchange) on-premise. Moving to the Office 365 solution doesn’t require any employee training, as you are using well-known products, and it is best used with Windows and MS Office on-premise.
Google Apps for Business has four main components, Gmail (which is the email component and includes Instant Messaging, Video conferencing and VoIP), calendaring function, Drive (used to be Google Docs, including Docs, Sheets & Slides), Google sites (offering simple web tools as a way to create team workspaces). Google was born in the cloud, it runs 100% in the browser, and you never have to install any application, other than refreshing your browser. It is easier to setup, but require changing the company culture, changing the way you collaborate, changing to a new way of doing things.
These products are not quite apples to apples. They are both online collaboration productivity suites offering email, teaming capabilities, real time communication capabilities and social capabilities. There are differences, Microsoft has a heavy local footprint and still delivers local applications for clients. Microsoft, being Microsoft, has a complicated set of pricing tiers, ranging from the E1 plan to the E4 plan in the Enterprise arena. Microsoft is more expensive, but delivers tried and robust products. Google has a flat structure, you get what you pay for at $50 / user / year. You can disable Google features, but you cannot choose one component, but not the others. Because Google Apps is 100% browser based, there are features lacking, such as limitations with the presentation technology. Converting MS Office documents to the Google format introduces document inconsistency issues and formatting errors. Companies starting to use technology such as Google Apps may not want to completely throw away their Microsoft Office suite.
Google and Microsoft are having a fair battle and it’s too early to declare a winner. Both platforms have a lot of momentum with big wins in large, mid-market, and small businesses. Google Apps looks and feels different than what we have been doing historically and it sparks an interest in trying to find new ways of working. Microsoft has taken the approach of moving to the cloud on your own terms by making it easier to transition some services to the cloud, while keeping the rest on-premise if highly customized or integrated. This hybrid approach provides flexibility some clients are looking for to split their workload as they ease into using more cloud services. Understanding your company needs is important before picking the platform to deliver the solution. Office 365 and Google Apps are both great solutions and Equilibrium can help identify the right solution for your business.
Author: Richie Proca