Software and applications make it possible for businesses to carry out daily activities quickly and efficiently. Many businesses believe that Google Apps can be used as a replacement for Microsoft products. However, this isn’t always the case. Oftentimes people jump to the conclusion that Google Apps can save their company money without fully understanding the impact that Google Apps could have on their business. It is important to learn about these impacts and the benefits of choosing to use Microsoft products such as a hosted Microsoft Exchange Server.

There’s a Difference Between Support and SLA
Google claims to have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that is financially backed. Unfortunately, for the users of Google Apps, this SLA is service credit based and doesn’t include any downtime of 10 minutes or less. This means that users can experience an unlimited number of instances per month of downtime as long as they are below 10 minutes. It is also important for businesses to know that new features released in the Google Apps are actually categorized under Google Labs which isn’t covered by the SLA.

In contrast to Google’s SLA, Microsoft Online has a 99.9% financially backed SLA and never restricts downtime. Experimental features aren’t given to users of Microsoft products before they are tested and deemed reliable.

Security Beyond the Basics
It is true that Microsoft and Google both have strong physical security for data center access. They also both have standard industry certifications.. Even though they are relatively similar in regards to these issues, Microsoft takes a more comprehensive stance on security. For instance, Google doesn’t allow users to send emails securely with rules such as “view only” or “don’t forward.” Because these rules aren’t incorporated into Google’s security, email and documents can easily be shared or leaked. In addition to flawed email security, documents created with watermarks can be stripped of these security markers once converted to Google Docs.

A hosted Microsoft Exchange Server allows users to mark emails with digital signatures. It also enforces rights management and permits users to flag by message type. Exchange also fully supports security for mobile phones. It is important for businesses to recognize the risk, and possible expenses that could be incurred in the future if security were to be breached, when using such Google Apps.

Beware of Outlook Support from Google
Google offers the Google App Sync for Microsoft Outlook(R) which claims to help users retain the Outlook interface while replacing the hosted Microsoft Exchange network with the Google Apps network. This sync tool falls short of full synchronization and will sometimes force users to manage two separate inboxes. This tool can cause a great deal of complexity and headache to ensure proper functionality. In the end, businesses may lose money on productivity and pay more to train users.

The “Offline” Solution Might Not Be a Solution
Google has claimed to solve “offline” needs with the Google Apps experience available through Google Gears. Google Gears is a browser add-in which needs to be deployed to every single user. It is also not covered by the Google Apps SLA. Once the offline experience is set up, it merely provides the user with view-only options. This means that users can’t create or edit documents while using it.

With SharePoint services, you can synchronize files to work offline. Then, once you reconnect, it will transmit only delta changes with the document. Even with Outlook you can work offline without worries.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets Replace SharePoint Services?
Google does provide some options for users of Google Docs and Spreadsheets to increase collaboration and compatibility. This includes the ability to upload many different file types into Google Apps. However, that is where the compatibility ends. Google limits file sizes and will convert documents into HTML. This results in altered content and layouts. This could mean more time and money spent while trying to fix the issues.

SharePoint services and Microsoft’s Office Web Apps give users full collaboration with a quality Web-based experience. Documents can be shared without worry of problems occurring. In addition, SharePoint services and Office Web Apps can be used on premises or in the cloud.

Overall, Google Apps cannot perform to the standards that quality Microsoft products can. They may be useful as a temporary fix but can cause problems with long term use. It is best to carry out business operations properly the first time around rather than having to pick up the pieces of incapable products.

A Better Outlook is operated by IT That Works, a Michigan-based Information Services business. We strongly believe that Microsoft Exchange with or without SharePoint and mobile access have competitive value for most, if not all, small and medium sized businesses. Our focus is to add a business perspective to your IT investment and build a long-term business relationship. For more information visit