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Office 365 vs Google Apps… and the winner is ….!!!

The world is shrinking and raising itself from the levels of inquisitiveness about Cloud Computing to assuefaction to Cloud Computing.

Before shooting at the discussion, let me just go about a bit of what’s what and then shoot!

This content in this article is strictly based on my personal opinion as a Technology evangelist and I haven’t been funded by any organization, company or individual.

To make it sound really nice and easy, what cloud computing or hosting is all about, let me just do that first. O365 and Google Apps are both web based email and related services hosted solutions.

All of us wonder on how to go about with the online or rather cloud version of our rudimentary applications, right? And the cardinal being Exchange. I say Exchange, as can u even envisage a day or an hour, without your emails? On a personal front it is difficult to deal with but on a professional front, it’s too huge a loss to bear with, right? Can your enterprise business withstand losing crucial emails? 10 years ago maybe it could, but today I doubt it.

O365 has been launched by Microsoft offering its assortment of arch products, being MS Exchange, MS SharePoint, MS Lync and few more products depending on your requirements.

Microsoft offers you two versions of Office 365 namely STANDARD AND DEDICATED. The standard version is something that lets multiple users to work on the same hardware platform whilst the dedicated is something that is targeted at bigger players, desiring to have a distinct hardware platform. OFFICE 365 is the enhanced version/new name of BPOS. Let me start addressing it hence on as O365! Google Apps is the similar as well offering you similar services in different contexts.

A little understanding on how few common things is being said and done in both the Applications.

Calendar and Email are offered as Exchange in O365 and Google Calendar and Gmail respectively in Google Apps. The Instant Messenger is in the form of Lync online in O365 and Google Talk Beta in Google Apps. The collaboration tool is SharePoint in O365 and the corresponding is Google sites. For your usual office stuffs, you have MS Office in O365 and Google Docs in Google Apps and finally the Google Video in Google Apps and Lync online in O365 for all your meetings and presentation discussions.

Let’s juxtapose O365 and Google Apps now in all dimensions.

Let’s first excogitate on the lines of adaptability and scalability. Now you already got your business on premises, at-least mostly, have it that way. Does the application give you the freedom to choose if you want to continue in your old environment, or, if you could get a combination of on-premise and hosting or if you have to move all way out to hosting in entirety? This is one of the foremost fundamental thought that is of utmost significance. O365, offers you the flexibility of choosing what you want, implying the call is yours, in deciding what kind of environment you wish to have apart from the fact that you can also persist with your current environment. With Google Apps, you got no options but to move to its SAAS version immediate. Besides that, what you need to really do is spend insane time in coding and other stuffs, if you are going to continue with Office applications or AD with Google Apps.

When it comes to anything new, use of ease, appearance and navigation is always significant. The users would primarily have a similar look and feel of the Outlook, and even some integral applications with O365, so there is pretty much nothing new that you need to start figuring out or acclimatize yourself with. With Google Apps, the case isn’t so. Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean constant evolution. You gotta standardise things somewhere, for people to start getting accustomed. With Google Apps, things constantly seem evolving, posing a challenge to users always with getting familiar with its environment.

The user is paying for whatever he uses, so obviously he should have the choice to decide what he may like or may not like to have. What could be someone’s need may not necessarily mean someone else’s need as well. In short, services are always specific, so a user ought to have the flexibility in deciding from the array of services offered, what he needs actually. O365, gives you the freedom to choose by giving you different suites that suit your needs addressing your complexity. If you are going to be a user needing just the basics, you get yourself the basic suite and if you need a little more complexity, you choose the needed elements that you want and not an entire bunch which don’t make sense to your business. This is indeed worth noting as you needn’t pay for something which is actually not of use to you. Google Apps doesn’t offer you this choice of flexibility as you need to with its default version of suite whether or not they cater to your needs.

Let’s talk a little on the lines of offline and online access. Google Apps, at present gives you limited email offline access and no document offline access as, if you don’t save your data through Google Sync, you can’t get the stuffs offline. With O365, users can access data online, offline or through any mobile device.

How about the ease with mobility and mobile devices? Both O365 and Google Apps support most of the mobile applications and service through Active Sync. Active Sync is used by Microsoft and Google has got it licensed from Microsoft for mobile support. However Active Sync doesn’t offer you the flexibility with Blackberry and you have to go ahead with an additional add-in BES (BLACKBERRY ENTERPRISE SERVER). Hosted Blackberry Enterprise Server is available in O365 whilst in Google Apps, you don’t have support for Blackberry Enterprise Server version 4.1.7 and version 5.0, and so all people who have their servers on these are on their own. To be in layman terms, you just do not need any sync application to sync your contacts, mails, iphones or any devices with O365.

How about the compatibility and ease with using word documents? To most extents, both O365 and Google Apps, are good with documents. In terms of dealing with better presentations of your documents, it’s always good to go with O365 which includes complex doc stuff as Google Apps does stumble at times dealing with complex word documents. To be noted also is the fact that PowerPoint files can neither be edited nor uploaded in Google docs, but if you create the presentation in Google docs you can edit it that way, and you can export to PowerPoint. To cut it short, you do have full presentation functionality on Google docs, just not editing pptx files.

When it comes to the security aspect, O365 wins hands down.Do some research on Single sign on with O365, pretty neat authentication mechanism it is.

All of us are well aware of the spams, viruses that come in mails. The Microsoft Forefront Anti-Spam and Forefront Anti-Virus which comes in with O365 take care of all these issues even before they hit your inbox but with Google Apps, you got to pay additional.

Let’s say about the storage aspect being offered in O365 and Google Apps. Exchange Online is based on Exchange server 2007. Ideally 5GB is the mailbox size that is being offered, but yes you can yank it, depending on your priorities. Say for instance, you have 60 gb as your total mailbox size of your firm, you could give three VIP users 10 GB each and allocate the rest to the employees. Having your exchange online as well doesn’t mean you are being challenged for 100% uptime, rather being assured that you would be having, if not money back guarantee , again other vendors just claim but do not come up with guarantees. This is something again, the way Microsoft takes care of its customer, like a baby. Though with Google Apps you get 25 GB storage, but when you do have the command of increasing your size, I don’t think it makes lot of a difference.

If you happen to be an ardent fan of NOTES AND TASKS, then NOTES isn’t present in your Google Apps and TASKS is present only in Gmail web interface.

The final call being pricing, but there is not a major break down in this aspect with per user cost accounting to 5$/user/month in Google Apps and 6$/user/month in O365.

Well i don’t intend to say O365 is perfect; there are few problems as well in O365 at all. You have better video and audio quality in Google Apps compared to O365. The streaming levels are far neater and there is less of lag difference. What Google Apps offers is real time editing whereas you need LYNC to be incorporated in O365 to do real time document editing. By far these are the only two issues compared to so many in Google Apps.

This is to a certain section of individuals, who counter on saying that O365 leads to loss of control on your business. Some people do have the opinion that buying licenses or having the software versions of the products is more secure. Well, let’s get it straight, just because you have a license of an application, doesn’t mean you own the product right? , it’s just a license to use the product. Something similar on these lines is the atonement for O365. You really don’t get an extra control in your software version than your hosted version honestly speaking.

Certainly, O365 is not just meant for Fortune 500 firms, but firms wanting to march towards innovative progress. Any kind of a service that a firm anticipates to offer its users should not just have functionalities that it claims rather should ensure that there are no loopholes in its functionalities and interfaces, what O365 addresses. O365 has certainly better functionalities and has coherent streamlined interfaces for all its applications than any of its competitors in the market. O365 is a clear winner in offline access and advanced editing. It is never about innovating first, but rather innovating better, which is what O365, is all about!! J

Anita Raj
Technology Evangelist
Team @MSExchangeGuru

Keywords – Office 365 and Google apps comparison, Google apps and Office 356 comparison, compare google apps and office 365

5 Responses to “Office 365 vs Google Apps… and the winner is ….!!!”

  1. Gary Says:

    Excellent article. Got the same opinion. Google Apps is great, but not for large enterprise customers.

  2. John Mayor Says:

    Neatly written and good research on the topic. Google pushed too much on google apps and now they have more customers on standard version than in enterprise. They are in trouble.

  3. MM Says:

    Very well written!

  4. Paul Says:

    Seriously compromised article.

  5. Barth Says:

    O365 needs to be stable, first. Claiming abilities is one thing, delivering them will bring me over to the “dark side”. 🙂

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