Google Apps | Google App
The Google Apps donation method offers corporate e-mail, calendaring and document sharing as a cost-free alternative to popular ‘microsoft’ Outlook. How do the 2 main apps compare in the face of common non-profit requirements?
Due to the fact Google launched its Google Apps donation program back many years ago, many companies now utilize it as an alternative to the once-ubiquitous ‘Microsoft’ Outlook. Whilst not as effective in every single area as Outlook, Google Apps offered free to most 501(c)(3) organizations—allows your whole staff to send and receive e-mail at your company’s domain (@yourorganization.org), and share on-line calendars, documents plus more.
As time passes, both systems have advanced in response to buyer demand—and as a result of levels of competition with one another. How do their present versions compare for typical non-profit requirements?
To discover, we investigated 6 distinct areas: Email Functionality, Calendaring, Contact Management, Folder Sharing, Remote and Mobile Access, and Setup and Support.
Defining the Systems
These competitive systems are certainly not strictly analogous, and the full Google Apps suite handles the majority of the scope of two individual Ms apps, Outlook and Exchange.
Microsoft’s communications environment is dependant on Ms Exchange, a program installed on a web server which offers e-mail, calendar and basic contact management services, plus folder-sharing (known as “public folders” in geek-speak). Ms offers two ways for consumers to gain access to these types of services on Ms Exchange. The 1st, Outlook Web Access (OWA), requires only a web browser, whilst the other, Ms Outlook, is really a program installed on every single user’s computer. Outlook and Exchange are closely intertwined, but distinct entities—when relevant, we will distinguish them by name.
However, Google’s communications environment, Google Apps, operates entirely on Google’s web servers. Like Ms Exchange, it provides e-mail, calendar and basic contact-management services, while Google Docs—another component of Google Apps—provides file-sharing.
This informative article analyzes Google Apps to the combination of Ms Exchange and Outlook, but other technical combinations are possible. For example, you can run Ms Outlook on users’ desktops with Google Apps as an alternative for Exchange… but that’s another article entirely.
Outlook’s mail app is tried, true and familiar. But Google Apps’ web-based e-mail system, Gmail , is usually considered to be exceptional when it comes to ease of use. It provides some useful and substantially different features, for example the capability to label e-mails as part of multiple groups instead of requiring users to put them right into a single folder. By default, Gmail groups together all emails in the same conversation, but this can be disabled. Outlook deals with it the other way round, and allows end users to enable the exact same feature should they choose. For individuals who rely on searching their inbox, Gmail’s search is quicker and quite often more accurate than Outlook’s.
The web-based characteristics of Googlemail is both equally a strength as well as a weak point. Consumers can gain access to e-mail from any computer through an internet browser, but there can occasionally be a delay when displaying or sending e-mails whilst Gmail attempts to reach the remote server. Each user gets 7 GB of free Gmail storage; with Outlook, storage has limitations by how much you are willing to spend on server space. Gmail also provides an outstanding, free spam protection, that you must set up as a separate service with Outlook.
However, Gmail does not offer all the leading-edge functionality Outlook does. It lacks the cabability to set reminders on email items, or to customize the thesaurus used for spell-check—which means it may well flag your organization’s name or common acronyms as misspellings each time they are used. Despite the fact that there are numerous services and products to help backup Outlook, backing up Gmail data is quite recent territory. Help exists, but it’s actually a lot more scarce.
Both Outlook and Google Calendar allow you to schedule and show your time as “free” or “busy,” and book whole-day or recurring meetings. Google Calendar supports a natural language recognition for adding events—for instance, typing “Work Meeting Tuesday 8AM” will recognize that you would like to create a “Work Meeting” for the subsequent forthcoming Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The primary differences between your packages lie inside their shared calendaring, however. For a short time, Outlook’s was the standard-bearer, and throughout the years it has been refined into a powerful meeting scheduling feature that allows you to easily schedule group meetings with co-workers, book conference rooms, and find out others’ availability via a stacked calendar view to identify free time slots among as much as 30 invitees. Although Google Calendar has improved greatly in this field, and now consists of features that allow you to find available slots and schedule them with participants and conference rooms, it’s still actively playing catch-up with Outlook.
Both apps enable you to share staff calendars with other people in the organization, but only Google Calendar allows you to share them with other users outside your organization—as long as they are also using Google Calendar.
Outlook’s close intergrated , address book and e-mail functions is certainly a selling point. Simply click on the name of a staff member in an e-mail to view their contact number, address and much more. In case you store all of your telephone numbers inside your Outlook address book, you’re able to do exactly the same for just about any contact.
Gmail’s contact functionality is bit more of a mixed bag. Its capability to automatically fill out email addresses when you key in a contact’s name surpasses Outlook, but entering or viewing more in depth contact details such as telephone numbers is considerably less convenient. In case your employees depends on Outlook to maintain and search a detailed library of contacts, Googlemail will unquestionably not replace that functionality for you. Both systems deal with replicate entries in a different way as well. In Outlook, merging duplicates demands either complex multi-step processes, or a 3rd party tool. In Gmail, click the “Find Duplicates” button to list contacts with duplicate entries that you could choose to have Gmail merge to suit your needs.
Microsoft Exchange’s folder-sharing features haven’t been as persuasive as its e-mail and calendar features. It facilitates a library of added docs which is often sluggish to gain access to and quite often redundant with a file server. Google Documents also provides the opportunity to access a shared set of documents, however the mental model behind the 2 apps is pretty different whilst Outlook provides a library, Google Docs offers an index of shared documents that may also be opened up for convenient collaborative editing.
If allowing multiple individuals to update docs as time passes is vital, Google Documents offers significantly smoother support. But managing permissions for shared Google Documents can be tedious, for the reason that functionality is designed more around granting access to individuals rather than groups. Docs can only be organized into folders by individual users, instead of a central administrator, which makes it more challenging for consumers to steer through a large group of shared docs.
Both apps go beyond just shared folders, though, and provide on-line collaborative document editing in fact, the systems are converging. Google Docs contains web accessible word processing, spread sheet, diagramming and presentation-building functionality analogous to Microsoft’s Office suite of applications. With Office 2010, Microsoft has added the cabability to share and collaborate online on Office docs.
Remote and Mobile Access
Google Apps has a robust, inherent advantage for individuals working outside of the workplace: simply because it is completely web-based, it can be viewed from any browser. Outlook offers components to aid web-based e-mail, but they should be separately set up and maintained, and aren’t as smooth for end users.
If you have at any time worked on e-mail from an airplane, you are aware of the value of offline access. Outlook users can certainly write and respond to e-mail with out internet access—the application simply lines up messages and delivers them automatically as soon as a connection is available. Being a web-based app, Gmail would normally be inaccessible without a connection to address this problem, Google developed Google Gears , which establishes a duplicate of Gmail data on your pc and lets you work with the off-line copy until you are back online. (Be warned that Google Gears is not suitable for all Gmail configurations.)
Both Google Apps and Outlook could work pretty much seamlessly with mobile devices like smart phones and tablet computers. Google Apps also gives the option for installing small programs, or apps, custom built for a specific function—for instance, instead of using your smart phone’s built-in universal “calendar” feature to work with your Google Calendar, you’d utilize an app built specifically around the functionality of Google Calendar.
Setup and Support
Outlook has a strong network of consultants who support it, and Microsoft provides clear-cut ways of acquiring technical support for this, but it isn’t inexpensive to setup or support. With Exchange, you can either run and maintain your own personal e-mail servers or pay a 3rd party (or Microsoft themselves) to get it done to suit your needs. The first option means you are accountable for the comparatively complex installation and setup, continuous routine maintenance, and essential updates and patches. The 2nd relieves you of technical complexity, but adds recurring expense.
Google Apps set up process, done through web forms, is sort of less complicated, and incorporates tools to help you migrate old emails from Outlook along with other services. Google also provides free migration support for nonprofits. But when you’re switching from Outlook to Google Apps, don’t forget that a few of the variations in the 2 interfaces are substantial enough that training might be essential for some staff. Anticipate a learning curve. For example, in case you click delete on a message in Outlook, it’ll delete just that 1 message, however in Gmail it’ll delete the whole thread, a difference which can be delicate and irritating.
Simply because Google Apps is an outsourced service, there is no need to be concerned about server maintenance and updates. Having said that, your accessibility to applications is only as good as your internet connection, so make certain your Isp is reliable. It is also vital that you back-up your data, even with Gmail. Google does its own back-ups, but issues do arise, it is always the most effective practice to keep timely copies of your data.
It is also feasible that Google might at some point stop supporting its philanthropic program to give away Google Apps. In the event that happens or if you prefer a risk-free solution. Google Apps also provides a Premier Edition, for $50 per-year-per-person, with a 99.9 % up-time guarantee that is prone to have better support and stability down the line. With Google’s current acquisition of Postini, the Premier service also includes Postini functionality for recovery of deleted emails and tools to set more strict rules on viewing and sending of emails.
Precisely what does it all mean? Both Outlook/Exchange and Gmail can be seen as parts of an entire IT ecosystem, and then any decisions made regarding the subject must be made accordingly. If, for instance, your company is thinking about a switch to Gmail, find out if your accounting system or Constituent Relationship Management system depends on Ms Exchange for messaging or calendar functionality. If such dependencies exist, you must take into account the cost to cope with them as part of your migration plan. Don’t assume all systems that actually work with Exchange can be made to work with Google Apps, therefore it pays to look before you leap.
Google Apps is a fairly persuasive alternative, and definitely worth serious consideration if you are starting from scratch with your infrastructure, specifically for small organizations. If you are already using Outlook, the cost of the migration needs to be taken into consideration, but it is well worth considering the advantages and disadvantages.
There’s a lot more risk inherent with Google Apps. It offers strong functionality for significantly less money, however, you may possibly experience problems outside your ability to fix. If the apps become less reliable, you might have little recourse other than beginning again with another service. Whilst it’s achievable to create a more perfect set up with Outlook, keep in mind that it’ll also require a substantial investment in expertise, setup and maintenance. If you do not invest the appropriate resources, it is as probably or more so that Outlook will fail you.
Ultimately, as with every software choice, it boils down to your own personal evaluation of costs and benefits. But it’s nice to have a solid choice in an area where choices have been historically limited.
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