Tag Archives: Microsoft Office 365

Google Apps vs. Office 365: An Objective Perspective

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Google Apps vs. Office 365Earlier this month, BetterCloud wrote an article about how Google will win the Enterprise game when it comes to Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office 365. Four reasons were cited declaring Google Apps the winner:

  1. A generational shift wherein students coming out of university are already using Gmail and other Google products in their personal lives. Thus, Google Apps will be the preferred system in the corporate setting when this cohort assumes management control.
  2. Microsoft’s long-standing involvement with on-premise solutions and channel partners who push on-premise solutions, which will slow the necessary shift in Redmond’s core business operations to the cloud.
  3. Microsoft’s preference for complicated pricing scares off buyers, whereas Google has a much simpler pricing plan.
  4. Google’s competitive advantage with regards to timing as they came to the market just as web apps were coming out, while Microsoft is dealing with 20+ years of providing on-premise software.

While all of these points, particularly the third point on pricing, are interesting, we think the situation is a bit more complex. In fact, we at Backupify wrote a whitepaper about this particular topic: “Office 365 vs. Google Apps: Which is right for your business?”.

What it boils down to is that there are different situations in which either solution might be better for a company moving to the cloud, and each solution is superior on different features. Here is a summary on our conclusions found in the whitepaper:

Google Apps wins on:

  • Price
  • Online collaboration & file storage
  • User interface & ease of use

Office 365 wins on:

  • Instant messaging, web conferencing, voice chat & voice features
  • Intranet integration
  • Active directory integration
  • Offline support

Google Apps and Office 365 Tie:

  • Email & email archiving
  • Mobile device support
  • System setup & administration

Aside from these feature differentiators, we see the major difference in terms of business process improvement (BPI) vs. business process engineering (BPE). Instead of declaring a definite winner in all cases, we think different companies can appreciate one solution over the other depending on their preferences, reasons for adoption, and business needs.

BPI has to do with tweaking existing business practices to make them more efficient, while BPE involves dissecting a business’ existing workflows and redesigning them from the ground up. We consider Google Apps more of a BPI solution that replaces a current system with a cheaper one, and Office 365 more of a BPE solution that brings new processes to a company.

So as a company considering the cloud, ask yourself: Are you happy with your existing practices but want to transfer them online in order to save money? Or, are you unhappy with your current practices and want a new solution to provide new tools to employees? If the former, then Google Apps is probably your answer. If the latter, then Office 365 with its robust and customizable set of tools that may be worth the extra money.

For more help deciding between the two solutions, check out our blog post on the Top 10 Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office 365 Comparison Guides.

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Top 10 Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office 365 Comparison Guides

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Microsoft Office 365 LogoIf it is time to upgrade your Exchange server, you are probably struggling with the same issue as so many other IT departments – do you move your email to the cloud? You have heard the arguments that the cloud saves you money, and the counterarguments that it really doesn’t. You have read a thousand different analyses of Google Apps vs. Office 365 vs. an Exchange upgrade — and you still haven’t made a decision. Don’t worry. We are here to help.

The Backupify research team has put together what we consider the ten best guides to Google Apps vs. Office 365, so you can make an educated decision about which platform is best for your company, or if you should skip the cloud altogether and stay on-premise. (Full disclosure: We at Backupify might be a bit partial to Google Apps for Business since we’ve created a third-party application that serves as a Google Apps data backup.)

1. Google Apps vs. Office365: Your Choice from ZDNet. This post by Revevol founder Louis Nages does a great job of digging into the core architectural issues that I.T. departments may be concerned about.

2. This ReadWriteWeb article considers Google Apps vs. Office 365 vs. Zoho, and we chose it because it tries to normalize the three across the standard user dimensions any IT department would use to evaluate the platforms.

3. In Google Apps vs. Office 365: It All Depends, an Interop panel analyzes both suites and provides some thoughts.

4. In Which Should You Use, Lifehacker looks at both apps from a user’s point of view.

5. Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Apps for Business enlists one of NetworkWorld‘s Microsoft beatwriters to take a quick, high-level comparison of both products.

6. In Google Apps vs. Office365: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns, InformationWeek takes a point by point in-depth view of the issues a large enterprise will face when making this decision. This is one of the more detailed investigations of both applications.

7. In a slightly biased article, the Microsoft professional tradepub RedmondMag highlights user feedback about both Google Apps and Office 365. Take it all witha grain of salt, but any positives about Google Apps that show up here must be impressive if Microsoft loyalists mention them.

8. In this betanews piece, a reseller of both products discusses Google Apps vs Office 365: Which wins over users? It’s a an interesting companion piece to the RedmondMag comparison.

9. In Google Apps v. Office 365: Head-to-head comparison of features, TechRepublic’s Enterprise Cloud blog sets up a downloadable Excel spreadsheet that serves as an analysis tool for determining which suite is best for your company.

10. And finally, we save the best for last. UC Berkeley wrote the most in-depth matrix on Google Apps vs. Office 365 published to date. It is a great place to start if you are evaluating both products.

BONUS: Office 365 vs. Google Apps White Paper. We commissioned our own independent review of both cloud productivity suites and discussed which solution is best for which customers.

Both Google and Microsoft have aggressive roadmaps, and migrating between the two applications is no easy task. So it is important that you make the right decision for your company and stick with it for the next few years. We hope these guides can help.

The 3 Signs That Your Enterprise App Belongs in the Cloud

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IBM Cloud ComputingTo hear the cloud-computing advocates tell it, every old-school locally installed enterprise software application would be better off moving to the cloud. There are no exceptions; the cloud is always better. The truth is a bit more complicated.

Some applications enjoy substantial gains when redeveloped for the cloud, but they must first meet some key criteria. If your organization is considering trading in an established on-premise software solution for a Software-as-a-Service counterpart, make sure the application passes these three tests.

1. The application has no exotic security or regulatory requirements
Every form and function of software has some type of security requirement, but certain industries and applications have unusually strict or extensive security and compliance demands. For example, law enforcement agencies have explicit chain of custody requirements, as the evidence they possess is used to prosecute criminals. Those agencies must certify that their evidence — some of it digital — hasn’t been altered by outside parties. This certainty requires absolute physical control of application servers, which isn’t possible with public cloud applications. On a similar tack, if you’re operating in a highly competitive field where industrial espionage is a significant risk — such as is the case with defense contractors — transmitting even highly encrypted data via the Internet may prove insufficiently secure.

Bottom line: If conventional, off-the-shelf security and compliance solutions are demonstrably inadequate for your on-premise software security needs, a SaaS replacement for that software is likely to be too difficult to monitor and secure.

2. The application has a mature feature set, and you need few if any customizations
“Mature” is not a dirty word when it comes to software: many application categories are established enough that a standard feature set has emerged as expected by customers. All cars come with steering wheels, gas and brake pedals, headlights, brake lights, turn signals and so on. All email solutions include inboxes, contact lists, and the reply all option. While there are plenty of unique features that make automobiles (and email solutions) distinct, their core feature set is not up for debate, and customers don’t request radical deviations from those features for the vast majority of sales. If your on-premise software application enjoys a standardized core feature set, it is a prime candidate for conversion to a SaaS solution. Translating those core features into an interface that can be delivered via a web browser is a straightforward engineering issue, and customers know precisely what to expect when they access your application online, making training and support far cheaper and simpler when migrating to an online version.

3. Increasing the number of users who can access the application makes it significantly more useful
If cost is the primary barrier to entry for adoption of your on-premise application, and lowering (or at least simplifying) those costs could markedly expand the number of users who could benefit from the solution, then your on-premise app could be well suited for relocation to the cloud. There was a time when only high-value employees had email accounts, but a radical lowering of costs has made it possible for almost every employee to enjoy the efficiencies and opportunities afforded by a company email account. The cloud can multiply this effect significantly, putting office productivity, project management, CRM and a host of other applications in play for a much broader section of your organization.

If you’re a large organization already employing on-premise apps that have cloud analogues, migrating to the cloud may allow you to offer these apps to a larger percentage of your workforce, or to deploy a more current and feature-rich solution to your employees without increasing costs.

Typical application categories suited to the cloud

There are a number of mainstream on-premise software categories that meet the criteria described above, and each includes a number of prominent SaaS solutions.

Enterprise email
Even the smallest business needs email, but almost no one wants or needs to run an email server. Private webmail is perhaps the single best example of the advantage of enterprise apps moving to the cloud. Google Apps, sometimes referred to as “private Gmail,” is perhaps the foremost example of this SaaS app category.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Every business needs to manage customer data and assist sales staff, but comparatively few are large enough to maintain an adequate on-premise CRM solution. Salesforce is the undisputed leader in this space, though other players such as Zoho CRM are making headway.

Accounting and finance applications
A business that doesn’t manage its books isn’t in business for long, which is why many are reluctant to move their financial data to the cloud. However, once business leaders realize that cloud-based data is safer than on-premise data — a building fire or flood can’t wipe out your cloud-based financials, and backing up cloud data is even simpler than backing up local information — the appeal of SaaS finance apps becomes clear. Freshbooks and Expensify are two of the more well know SaaS accounting applications available today.

Document management and collaboration software
The cloud is the perfect environment for sharing documents between employees, and working collectively on common reports and presentations. Dropping the per-user costs of productivity suite licenses and shared document servers is of great appeal to small and medium businesses. Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365 and Zoho are the heavyweights in this space.

Project management solutions
Project management applications require input from multiple employees, often operating in multiple departments and locations. Cloud-based project management software drops the cost and complexity of project collaboration. Basecamp and Mavenlink are two of the foremost players in the SaaS project management market.

Considering migrating your on-premise solution to the cloud? You can easily adapt this whitepaper on running a software proof-of-concept evaluation (it’s presently written for evaluating cloud-to-cloud backup) to ensure your cloud solution meets your needs.