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Google Apps and 365: Cloud Face-Off

Google Apps and 365: Cloud Face-Off

If you’re looking to move to the cloud, you’ve probably wondered whether Google Apps or Office 365, two of the leading cloud computing service providers, is right for you.  So how do you know which service to choose?  Here is a side-by-side comparison of the services offered through each.


Background
While Google Apps has been around since 2006, Microsoft just released Office 365 in July 2011.  Google Apps users gain access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google sites, Google Groups, Google Video, Google Cloud Connect, and more, through a unique domain.  Google Apps is available in platforms tailored to the needs of businesses, educational institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.  Office 365, which was created to improve issues with its predecessor, Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), grants users access to Microsoft Web Apps, Exchange, Sharepoint, and Lync.  365 is available exclusively for businesses.

Communication Services
With Google Apps, customers use Gmail, which many people use for their personal email accounts.  With Office 365, customers use Outlook, the same service used by businesses operating in Microsoft Exchange.  Gmail offers the same basic features as Outlook, but also includes more tools.  Users can access IM and video chat directly in Gmail and utilize the Google-powered search function to quickly find past discussions.  Additionally, Google Apps users will find their inboxes more organized thanks to threaded emails, which groups discussions with the same subject together to eliminate clutter.

Creating and Storing Files
Though both Google Apps and Office 365 allow users to create and store files, the two services approach this capability differently.  Google Docs is Google’s solution, and it allows users to create a variety of files including documents, spreadsheets and presentations.  Users can easily share their files with others to make collaboration easy.  Like everything in Google Apps, Google Docs is hosted entirely in the web browser.  Office 365 employs Microsoft Web Apps, the online version of the Microsoft Office suite.  While 365 does run with Microsoft Web Apps, it works significantly better with a version of Microsoft Office installed locally on the desktop.  This cuts down on a user’s ability to access their documents from anywhere.

Installation and Ongoing IT
When it comes to migrating to a new system, many people are concerned about technical difficulties or losing information.  However, the Google Apps installation process is easy to navigate thanks to a set up wizard that takes you through the process one step at a time.  This tool provides Google Apps users with a much easier, less stressful process than that experienced by Office 365 users, who face a much more complex setup process with less guidance along the way.  Once you’ve made the switch to the cloud, the ongoing IT needs of Google Apps users continue to be less than those of 365 customers.  This difference is because Google Apps is hosted 100% in the web browser and thus runs without any additional hardware or software, while 365 runs better with Microsoft Office installed on the desktop.

Service Reliability
Google Apps is known for its 99.9% uptime guarantee, which promises that users will always be able to access their accounts and information.  Office 365, however, can not boast this same reliability.  BPOS, the predecessor to 365, had a major problem with system failures, as it was known for crashing for extended lengths of time.

Costs
A huge difference between Google Apps and Office 365 is their costs.  Not only does Google Apps offer a straightforward pricing plan while 365’s plan is much more complicated, but Google Apps is also priced significantly lower than 365.  Google Apps for Business customers pay $50/user/year, and users of all other platforms pay even less.  In contrast, Office 365 charges customers $6/user/month for the most basic plan.  Office 365 Professional Plus runs at $12/user/month for small businesses and $24/user/month for enterprises.

With Google Apps priced lower and offering more reliability, fewer IT demands, and better collaborating and communicating capabilities across a wider variety of platforms than Office 365, it is clear that Google Apps should be the top choice for those looking to make the switch to the cloud.

This blog post is brought to you by Cloud Sherpas. Cloud Sherpas is a leading Google Apps cloud service provider. As a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and Google Enterprise partner.

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