Google Apps / Exchange Migration - Is it possible to make this a transition that most Outlook users won't notice?

Greetings experts!

I've read a few of the articles on migration of an Exchange server to Google, but there are still a couple of lingering questions I have. I'm looking into the possibility of moving away from housing our own Exchange server. I work for a non profit, and we have a six year old Dell box housing Exchange 2003. It's primarily a Windows environment, though we have a few Macs in use by our development team.

I'm the only person supporting a network of about 140 computers, so I'm eager to move away from having to support Exchange, as well as not have to worry about replacing the hardware that Exchange is currently hosted on. However, a lot of our users aren't particularly tech savvy, and I'd like to make this transition as painless as possible for me, and for them.

It's my understanding that users can still use Outlook for the Google mail and calendar, but how easy is that to get working post migration? Will I need to make changes for each user in their Outlook to update where Outlook is finding the mail server? And what about the calendars? I've seen third party software designed to sync the two, but I had thought it was possible for Outlook to sync with a Google calendar already.

Has anyone done this migration that can tell me -

What steps do I need to take to get Outlook clients working with Google Mail?
If I have several public calendars now, how can I migrate those to the Google calendar system?
Can I assign user rights to specific calendars under Google's system?
How difficult is this migration in general for a relatively inexperienced admin?

Thanks much!
minileedAsked:
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DraginMagikCommented:
you'll want to review the "Google Apps Sync" tool.  it will keep Outlook Email, Contacts, Calendar sync'd with the google cloud.  You may need to touch each box to configure the change, although perhaps a .prf file or script may be of use.   the sneakernet style solution would be to download the Gapps Sync tool, you can import existing Outlook profiles, login using your gapps account, add back any pst files the user may have had attached.  a new outlook profile is created.  once you feel the migration is a success you can go to control panel -> mail and make this the 'default profile'.

the google tool is fine.  and once the conversion is done most users only notice that mail tends to take a bit longer than in the past.

the migration is not likely to be invisible to the end user.
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Aaron TomoskySD-WAN SimplifiedCommented:
One thing I've noticed is outlook rules get unhappy when not using exchange. If you have any rule heavy users keep an eye on them
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sunnyc7Commented:
To answer your questions:
What steps do I need to take to get Outlook clients working with Google Mail?
>> Outlook will work with GApps.
Here's the tool.
http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/outlook_sync.html

If I have several public calendars now, how can I migrate those to the Google calendar system?
>> There is an app for that :)
http://www.google.com/support/enterprise/static/gapps/docs/admin/en/gapps_pilot/intgr_data_email_lotus_mig.html#1100527

Can I assign user rights to specific calendars under Google's system?
>> You can share a specific calendar with X users.
Yes you can do that.

How difficult is this migration in general for a relatively inexperienced admin?
>> Low to Medium.

Check with google apps team, I think they will do some hand-holding and help you with the process.

PS (PLUG for BPOS):
You can also do the same thing and move all uesrs to BPOS (Hosted Microsoft Exchange)
They have really cheap options (depending on your mailbox size) - and you can retain full exchange 2010 funtionality without worrying about cross migrations.

MSFT is heavily promoting and discounting Hosted Exchange solutions and they will throw in goodies for a 140 seat migration.

Check with a Microsoft Partner in your Area
www.pinpoint.com/
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sunnyc7Commented:
<-- Exchange Fan.
Would recommend BPOS / Hosted Exchange 2010 over Google Apps.
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FDiskWizardCommented:
Some of the collaborative stuff in Google Apps is pretty nice. For small shops I think overall it's a great thing. One thing missing is the advanced functionality of Microsoft apps like Excel.

But as far as replacing Exchange for an Enterprise... I dunno. Jason's Deli is supposed to be rolling Google Apps to replace their email (Not Exchange..) Although I'm curious how many heavy email users they have....
http://thegrovegroup.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/jason-deli-chain-ditches-open-source-e-mail-for-the-google-cloud/
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minileedAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the feedback, experts. I don't know if I'll find a free hosted exchange service that'll work with our existing domain. I think Google still has the advantage, and I appreciate the information provided.
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