Google Apps vs Microsoft

As a Sr. Systems Engineer, I'm always looking to make things more efficient and cheaper for the company... So, I've been reading a lot about the improvements in Google Apps for Business... and then I look at the price. On the surface, it looks super awesome and that it'll save the company tons of money... Am I missing something?

I have an infrastructure of about 300 people. We're in the process on deciding to move to XenDesktop7 so that users have everything available no matter where they are. If I can do the same thing in Google Apps, for a lot less money, is it time for me to rethink our upcoming changes?

My question is: Is moving to Google Apps for Business from Exchange 2010/2003 and Server 2008 a viable option at this time for a company of 300? (or does Google need to do more work?)

Also: Does Google back up data stored in Drive or do you need 3rd party apps/software?

I appreciate your feedback as this is more of a philosophical discussion but it does/will impact my company's infrastructure.
Paul WagnerFriend To Robots and RocksAsked:
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regmigrantConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I will answer your question but admit to being openly biased against Google Docs as the original terms and conditions (they may have changed) indicated that Google maintain a right to read, make use of,  suggest advertising relevant to and generally do anything they want (short of actually selling copies) of any data that is stored on their servers - including email, documents and even source code.

With that said:-

Backups - not a problem, their data centres are extremely good and reliable at keeping data, it is what they do after all. but if you want local copies you will need applications to manage it.

Apps for business - no personal experience (see above) but I have looked at them for clients and they seem capable if less complete/flexible than the MS counterparts. You should factor in the learning curve and your migration plans before you take the expected savings - but assuming you can write those off in the first year the numbers stack up (very) well.

We ultimately decided against a switch because of the clients investment in VBA and other internally developed code snippets that relied heavily on MS and would have cost a fortune to re-factor.
Allen FalconConnect With a Mentor CEO & Pragmatic EvangelistCommented:
To clarify, Google Apps for Business has terms of service, privacy policies, and an SLA that explicitly prohibits any scanning or access to your data.  Google Apps for Business is secure and private.

With respect to security, Microsoft announced it will not be able to encrypt all data within and traveling within/between its data centers until late 2014/early 2015.

Backups -- don't confuse the redundancy of Google's or Microsoft's infrastructure with backup.  Google's infrastructure is great at preventing data loss or damage do to system issues, but it does not protect you from user actions (intentional or accidental) or misbehaving 3rd party applications integrated into the environment.

If Drive (or any cloud storage) is going to serve as your primary file service (in full or in part), a backup/recovery solution is highly recommended.

Paul WagnerFriend To Robots and RocksAuthor Commented:
Both had great answers and feedback. I think it all depends on the human aspect: what are people willing to handle in terms of change? While I would greatly enjoy the cost savings and administrative ease, moving everyone away from Outlook, Word and Excel is a TALL order that I don't think can be filled. Also, one of my divisions relies entirely on linked Excel docs. How could I migrate an entire datastore full of Excel docs that are linked across to each other without breaking anything? I could, but that would require hiring developers and I would lose all of my cost savings... so like you @regmigrant, I think we can't actually make the shift (even though it would be really nice). I'm talking with the team about just moving messaging on the back end (replacing Exchange) but that might not look too pretty when all end users are still on Outlook... this is probably a more viable option for people with flat setups... anyway, I hope this post helps someone make a decision for their environment as well.
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