Landmark Leadership Conferences for IT Executives
Cloud-Based Email Platforms – Google Apps versus Office 365
by Fred F. Farkel, Thursday, September 8th, 2011


Deborah Galea, Co-Founder and COO of Red Earth Software

In recent years, companies began facing the question of deploying a cloud-based email platform. The cloud model has been hailed for its cost saving and flexibility benefits. On the flipside, keeping email on-premise allows for greater control and security. Companies that do decide to move their email to the cloud face another important question: Which hosted platform should we deploy?

A commonly chosen hosted email platform is Google Apps. Now, Microsoft has introduced a newcomer to the market, Office 365, to go head-to-head with Google Apps. Compared to its predecessor, Microsoft Business Productivity Suite (BPOS), Office 365 now includes online Office Web Apps, allowing for online real-time editing of documents and spreadsheets, similar to Google Apps. Office 365 has two product lines—one geared for small businesses and another for enterprises.

Microsoft is the traditional leader in the market, and companies continue to turn to the computing giant because of shared trust built over time. Office 365 has beefed up its storage space to 25 GB to match that of Google Apps. And with the amount of emails companies produce, many need all the storage space they can find. Microsoft also touts that users can continue to benefit from Office’s familiar interfaces.

However, Google is gaining traction. For Office 365, a major drawback according to a recent article in InformationWeek is the lack of online collaboration and its lack of creative and social media apps like those that Google offers. In addition, only users of smartphones based on Microsoft Windows Phone 7 are able to access Office documents in their native format. iPhone, Android and Blackberry users will have to make do with editing Office documents in a web browser.

If your business relies on online collaboration and has no need for advanced Excel and Word capabilities and integrations, and it relies heavily on the latest tablets and smartphones, Google Apps has a solid edge and a cost advantage over Office 365. If your business has hybrid deployment scenarios, unified IT management, offline operation, and needs integration with Word and Excel documents, Office 365 offers an attractive combination of capabilities that will keep most existing customers in the Microsoft camp. Do diligent research to find out which service would be best for your business and do not be afraid to ask for the best deal possible.

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