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Google Business Apps vs. Hosted Exchange

Posted on 2009-05-07
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Someone asked this question before but the answer seemed incomplete to me. I will give highest points to anyone with real-world experience with the PAID Google Business Apps (in particular email). But I'm interested in all responses :-D

I'm looking to migrate a company of 45 users to a new email system. I'm only considering hosted solutions-I do not want to do this in-house. I've worked with Exchange--it's fine for one email but Outlook completely sux if you are checking more than one email address and trying to use Exchange. I'm taking a hard look at the PAID full support Google mail as an alternative that will allow users to use different clients (i.e. Thunderbird, etc.) which are far better handling multiple IMAP accounts. Also of concern is archiving of emails--many accounts have 5-10Gb email so far so I will have to immediately implement an archiving solution. With Google mail this is built in (and they give you 25Gb to start); with Hosted Exchange it could be costly. Currently users aren't using "shared" calendars/notes/contacts although they do on an individual basis. I'd like to provide this as an option in the future.

Anyone ever used the "real" paid version of Google apps and would like to chime in? Anyone have suggestions for great hosted exchange companies with solid tech support? Thanks!
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Question by:goldylamont
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by:DTAHARLEV
ID: 24345447
Exchange. Mobile devices, user interface, full sync with other devices etc.

I set my friend up with mailstreet including Blackberry enterprise server and RPC/HTTPS and we haven't had a problem. I'm sure the other companies who offer this are also great.

As far as cost, hosting in-house will probably be cheaper, but i understand where you're coming from as far as wanting to outsource it.
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by:goldylamont
ID: 24351308
dtaharlev, have you had any experience with Google for Business? I, like many other Microsoft techs have experience with Exchange so I'm looking for a comparison to Google Business. Also, I believe it's probably cheaper to outsource Exchange, not keep it in-house--I've seen this sentiment amongst other Exchange techs; once you factor in spam filtering, hardware and consulting fees, for the small business I do believe hosting Exchange elsewhere to be more cost effective. your thoughts?
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by:geowrian
geowrian earned 500 total points
ID: 24351886
I am the administrator for a Google Apps for Education account with my work, and I did out initial setup and continue to maintain it. My understanding is that Google Apps for Education is nearly identical to the paid Business version you are looking at.

Once you get the initial setup made, it's really easy to use the Google mail via the website or via Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, etc. Google also provides many APIs in Java, PHP, .NET, and other languages to develop statistics and reporting applications. From my reading of their API, it looks like you could make an archival application if needed, although it would take some work. The other option would be to have each PC's email client perform a backup.

Anything else you are looking for?
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Author Comment

by:goldylamont
ID: 24437040
hi geowrian, i am looking to close this question out. thanks for your comments. my main concern with Google is how it would interface with MS Outlook--no version of Outlook that I know of (2000, 2003 or 2007) works well with IMAP. I do not use POP, ever. And IMAP in Outlook is silly because it doesn't know how to save drafts or sent emails in the correct folder. Outlook also doesn't move deleted emails to the Trash in IMAP, it just puts a line through the email and then you have to "purge". This throws users off too much so I have to use Thunderbird for IMAP. Problem is, Thunderbird doesn't sync contacts and calendar to a phone, and users are used to using Outlook...

any comments on Google's customer support? have you had any experience with outages? there seems to be so few people using this technology, but it looks promising for the price.
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geowrian earned 500 total points
ID: 24437402
@goldylamont
I see where you are coming from. Personally, I like the strikethough on delete...that's my "oh !@#$ I needed that!". For most users, it's just annoying.

Syncing the calendar and contacts to a phone is definitely a kicker if somebody isn't using Outlook. Getting 3rd party extensions to work with anything other than Outlook is difficult and they are usually buggy at best.

I can't speak for their business level of customer service, but their education support is great. I have personal contacts for the technical support and a personal account rep to deal with non-technical issues and our initial planning/promotion of the service on campus. We haven't experienced any service interruptions so far (that I'm aware of).
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by:goldylamont
ID: 31579167
thanks!
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by:AbdAlmumin
ID: 25866132
GoogleApps gives you the capability to use on Blackberry's, Droids, or any other data enabled phone. Also, why pay $25/month when you can pay $50/year per user???? Plus, Google Apps gives you 25GB of storage space. That is more than anyone of your users could POSSIBLY use up their email for the next 10 years with high volume usage. Photographers would still take 3 years to fill up their inbox! The best out their in GoogleApps implementation is http://www.cloudsherpas.com/ and http://www.ltech.com/.

Our company moved to Google Apps. Now we saves hundreds of thousands of dollars on no longer needed EMC Clarion storage. No more Exchange is down crap. We save on the licenses of Outlook since we opted that just using the Firefox/GoogleApps/Internet Explorer 7/8 browser was more efficient and less costly. We still have Word, Excel, Powerpoint, but we migrated out entire Sharepoint site to Google Sites.

Move to GoogleApps. It saved my company so much money it is ridiculous. We got rid of the 3 Exchange administrator's and at $87,000 per year. That alone was worth it!
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Author Comment

by:goldylamont
ID: 25867028
lol, now that's a great story AbdAlmumin! this is just what i was thinking; however there are some things i still have to consider:

1) how are contacts and calendars shared? as far as i know you can't share contacts on google, although calendar sharing is possible...
2) syncing is a big issue--email is never a problem any service offering IMAP is a sync email service for phones and desktops--however what about calendar and contacts sync between devices? does Google sync contacts and calendars with Blackberry, Droid (in addition to iPhone)?
3) Please also see this question--the accepted answer gives good things to consider before moving to Google:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Server_Software/Email_Servers/Exchange/Q_24909005.html

i love the fact that there is a forum to discuss this. thanks much for sharing.
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by:AbdAlmumin
ID: 25867335
goldylamont,

Mannnnn!!!! We have to get you up too speed. You knowledge is outdated. Google has shared contacts in Google Apps Premium Edition. Yes, they push to BB, Droid, iPhone. I have a Droid and iPhone so yes it works. Here is a screenshot of my test corporate account. (Not our corporate account). That responder obviously never implements Google Apps for Enterprises. Maybe a Mom and Pop shop or two, but you can 100% disable advertising in Google Apps. Google does not "sniff" your data. It is called a crawler and it crawls public "websites/blogs/SN stuff", etc. It is not going to crawl your internal corporate data? Are you kidding? This guy needs to get a clue and read and do some implementations first. As far as auditing goes. Google Apps Premium Edition is SOX capable and enabled. That is what the reporting features in Premium are for. Once again...a non-Enterprise user. "Fast and secure email service"...what is this guy a hosting tech????!!! The SSO security authentication in Google is anything above average.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU6scRn_L-I

READ! We had spam and anti-virus filters GALORE! Symantec, BigIP, etc. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on solutions. Postini is king. It KILLED out spam problems. And trust me, we had the enterprise LOCKED DOWN! Now with GoogleApps and PostIni. I NEVER get called anymore.

People say what they know and according to their experience. As a corporate user. Exchange cannot compete with Google Apps. The cost is amazingly low and when you are talking about a lack of need for SAN's, servers, etc. You cannot beat it. People's entire lives are 80-90% of the day through email. How much productivity is lost when the "Exchange is down" or "Exchange Maintenance Day" happens?

Listen, 45 users is nothing. We have ONE department with this many people. Trust me...save yourself some headache, waisted money and downtime. Upgrade to GoogleApps. I cannot tell you how much time I got back into my personal life working as an IT Manager and Sr. Systems Engineer.
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by:geowrian
ID: 25867566
I love Google Apps. However, I would note that AbdAlmumin has a vested interest in promoting Google Apps. Not that it's bad (he knows what he is talking about), but opinions may not exactly be two-sided, especially without somebody defending the Exchange option.

Some items with push on Gmail - different phones do support it, and others require applications to sue it. Some phones support true push, and others are still a pull but it appears like a push. A technicality most of the time, but still notable. There's also the issue of browser incompatibilities or business logic requirements that you have no control over since it's all controlled by Google. Also, Add-in support is much stronger with a standalone client like Outlook than Google Apps.

I'm not pushing the Exchange option, I'm just pointing out that it's not such an obvious or one-sided choice for what meets your business' needs.
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by:AbdAlmumin
ID: 25870818
geowrian is correct. Outlook is great in some instances if you are using ReadNotify, etc if you are heavily into monitoring who is opening your attachments and proposals, etc. I do have a vested interest in GoogleApps. I want technology that works. So...from this standpoint. You are 100% correct. Plus, company's spend too much money on service contracts, network consultants and support staff. Now, let's think about this. $125-175/hour for Exchange, Groupwise, Lotus Notes support and maintenance and upgrades and purchasing of Dell or HP Servers or if you are VERY high speed VMware to put Exchange in a cluster. Throw in an EMC Clarion, EMC AX4, NetApp or Dell Equallogic and the licensing for Symantec Netbackup and Backup Exec and the Windows Server CAL Licensing for 2003/2008 server and the cost of sharepoint and measure that versus $50/year and no need for any of the above. You may have a "Google Apps" consultant or company you work with. However, any IT person in your department worth his salt can figure out Google App Premier Edition in a day.

When you are running a business it is about workflow, cost and productivity. Technology is at the forefront of this. Why spend a bunch of time on the technology when you have a business too run. You don't get ROI on your business because of your Exchange backend. There is loss ROI when it comes to this. This is the scenario that must be evaluated! And...you can still use Outlook with the Google Sync Option. http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/outlook_sync.html
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Expert Comment

by:to2007
ID: 37121067
We hve setup interanal SBS for small companies or even separate full blown Exchagne (20 users or lesss offices)

The extra cost for hardware and the licenses for SBS are minimal if you need a decent server for other applications and data storage anyway in house.  We set it up and it runs.  knock on wood we just don't have issues with Excahgne if you leave it alone!

The $1000 per year for Google Apps in 20 user network over time cost just as much as Exchange over time.  YOu lose alot of the beneficial Outlook functions if use hosted or Google it would sound like.

IN our small companies we absoulutely hear the "internet is down or slow" may more than Exchagen or the server is down.

Yahoo for the cloud but we have had nitmares with cloud apps when a CPA loses their internet connection in tax season and there goes the cloud app conncetion etc

There are two sides to everything.  I just don't get the cloud still  there are positives as menitoned in hthis but also draw backs.

thanks  it was intersting string
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Expert Comment

by:john_v
ID: 37292035
AbdAlmunin has some valid points but he is way off on costing. He is going ahead and listing all of the storage and support costs for an in-house solution, when the original question was about a HOSTED solution. It is pretty obvious that if you are using a Hosted solution you are not going to be spending on EM Clarion storage or Symantec or NetBackup or any ot the other stuff.So pease, lets compare apples to apples here.
We have spent a lot of time comparing hosting between Microsoft and Google and they both come in (for our company) between $270,000 and $285,000 so the real question is who do you feel more comfortable with, both during and after the migration. Also, remember that there is always the possibilty you might switch back, and you have to be willing to understand if that would be feasible. I am alwasy leery when someone is a "true beleiver" and thinks everyone who questions is a heretic. Google has some fine points, but that does not make Microsoft the Anti-Christ.
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Author Comment

by:goldylamont
ID: 37294301
OK, so i've setup three small businesses with the paid version of Google Apps. I love it. And AbdAlmunin is correct that the spam protection is top notch. I don't think there's any comparison cost-wise or reliability-wise between using Google Apps for email and hosting your own Exchange server. I also work with clients who use Exchange--it costs them more because I'm always having to fiddle and troubleshoot things; I'm not saying that Exchange has been unstable (it's not) but even normal maintenance costs the client pretty.

John_v, you are correct though that my original comment was to compare *hosted* versions of Exchange to GApps; and much of this conversation was pertaining to Exchange being hosted in-house. I dunno about hosted Exchange still, but I don't trust it as much as Google. Microsoft isn't the Anti-Christ but in general I find their programs to be sluggish/overdesigned/not-as-user-friendly/not-as-flexible as alternatives. As far as usefulness and trustworthiness I'd say Apple comes in first place, then Google, and then in far last Microsoft. But this is just my opinion...
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