There are several reasons that smaller businesses and companies could consider Google Apps for Business a viable alternative to Exchange. This article briefly covers what many may consider reasons or benefits to choosing an Email, Calendar, Office Suite and Intranet Web portal based on Google Apps for Business. It also shows how Microsoft Exchange may not be the disadvantage you think it is based on previous pricing compared to recent prices.
Google Apps Or Microsoft Exchange Hosted Solution?
First, the biggest and probably first thing people want to look at is the cost of a hosted email, calendar, and document solution.
Though you may be used to and familiar with Google Apps free pricing, Google Apps for Business has no such free model and typically has a $5 per user, per month cost. This actually is slightly higher than the new Microsoft Office 360 Exchange plan of $4 per user per month and you may be surprised to find that Microsoft Exchange maybe a cheaper platform. Now, if you were looking at older versions of Exchange pricing including Exchange 2010 you would find Google Apps for business to be a much cheaper solution so it is important you always look at the latest products and pricing for an even comparison.
Both the Exchange Solution and Google Apps solution provide you with 25GB of email storage for each user, this is a pretty robust amount of storage. Google also offers 5GB more personal cloud storage for each user on top of this. But each user can also get some free online storage with Windows SkyDrive as well. I will say if your users mostly use Android devices then the integration of Android phones with Google mail and other systems is more seamless and natural than adding an Exchange hosted solution. If you are using a Blackberry for your users then I would argue that Exchange is an easier to manage solution and for iOS it would be about a tie between the services.
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Web Based Access is of course available in both platforms, but Exchange is and has a native desktop client for email for users who don’t like to access email through a browser. Sure you can tell your users to use Thunderbird or another free email client for Google Apps but most users are familiar with and use Exchange, unless most of your users already use Gmail and the web app for personal email accounts, Exchange may actually be more convenient and easier on the users.
Calendar and Contacts
Both systems have shared calendar and a global address list, both allow for private calendar events, shared calendar events and group calendar events. Calendars are integrated more seamlessly in my opinion with the Outlook mail client which shows Email, Calendar, Tasks and such more simply than the Google web interface, but this is opinion based. There are add-ons and extensions for Chrome, Outlook, and IE though many more extensions exist for Chrome. If you plan on doing most of your email and calendar in a browser like Google Chrome, then Google Apps would win in this category. If you plan on doing most of your email and calendar from a client application then Exchange solution would probably be easier.
Though not part of Google Apps in itself Google Voice nevertheless is a very robust business tool that integrates more tightly in with Google App user accounts. Since you can sign up for other Google Services with Google user accounts and even if you use an Exchange solution you need a Gmail to use Google services separately. Being able to setup call forwarding, ring multiple phones, handle voicemail and set vacations, do not disturb, out of office…etc. all through Google Voice is an incredibly useful business tool and it integrates easier with Google Apps than with Exchange integrations.
So as you can see from the above highlights it really depends on what your users are more comfortable with (web mail, desktop clients) and whether they use Google Android devices, Blackberry, iOS and what features are most important. Pricing alone is not the giant savings it used to be with Google Apps which was one of the largest compelling reasons to use Google Apps over Exchange previously, now that the pricing actually is slightly in Microsoft Exchange’s favor they may be the right hosted email, calendar and document solution for your business.
By Alisha Webb. Alisha is a British writer working out of Barcelona and a content developer for Conosco – IT support company in London. Alisha loves gadgets, travel and her cat.