5 Reasons Why Google Apps Beats Office 365
This week, Google announced the addition of Google Apps Unlimited, a premium upgrade to the Google Apps for Business suite. The new unlimited plan adds key features such as unlimited storage for emails and documents, along with powerful new auditing features and security/encryption upgrades.
Since their release in 2011, Microsoft's Office 365 suite has failed to match Google's level of sophistication when it comes to providing a true cloud solution. The latest update to Google Apps deals yet another major blow to the once king of business software. In light of these new developments, I'd like to take this opportunity to present 5 key reasons why Google Apps is a significantly better choice for Businesses of any size.
1. True Cloud Solution
There is no question that Microsoft once dominated the computer market, building an empire on their operating systems and software. Their Office suite, comprised of applications such as Word, Excel, and Outlook is arguably one of the most popular software packages ever installed. In the past, before the internet, it made sense for organizations to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to create their office documents, spreadsheets, and more in a static desktop environment. Microsoft's attempts to move beyond locally installed software with Office 365 falls short as their solution is considered a hybrid (not a true cloud solution) that still requires users to at least partially depend on their desktops for work.
Google on the other hand has focused on cloud technology since its inception. With Gmail's release over 10 years ago, Google has put all of its focus in creating a cloud based ecosystem that completely reduces any of the former headaches experienced with installing software, updates, and in many cases, having to rely on the IT department. Just this week, Google announced the addition of native Microsoft Office editing within its Google Drive suite, meaning you may never need to fire up Word or Excel ever again.
Unlike Google Apps, Office 365 still requires the presence of locally installed software which means that yes, you still need to purchase the Office suite which can range from $140 - $399 per user and even worse, you still need to go through software updates (if you've ever experienced Windows updates, you know how painful this can be). Google Apps is completely cloud based which means every new update is available instantly and you can access the software suite from virtually any device.
Google provides its business suite in 3 easy flavors, $5/month/user if you only need the core suite (Mail, Drive, Calendars, etc), $10/month if you would like to add Vault Archiving to the core suite (not required for the entire domain), and the latest iteration announced this month, Google Apps unlimited for organizations that want it all including unlimited storage, $10/month (required for the entire domain).
Office 365 on the other hand provides a huge medley of flavors including 7 different categories with confusing packages and options, along with user restrictions that can take quite some time to sort through when deciding to choose a solution. While pricing starts at a similar rate for their stripped down packages, their higher level packages can be upwards of $27/month/user. Even the pricier high level enterprise packages still fail to deliver as many features as Google Apps.
Office 365 was designed from the ground up with primarily Windows users in mind. Additionally, the release of Office 365 coincided with Microsoft's big push for the Windows phone, their late entry to the smartphone game dominated by Google and Apple. Unfortunately their emphasis on providing the best integration for Windows phone left Android and iOS users on 365 seriously lacking crucial features.
Google on the other hand made mobility and things like remote collaboration a core part of its business suite for users of virtually all devices. Google has also provided and recently released major updates to its Google Docs line of tools, providing users free apps to create, edit, and collaborate from their mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and more.
Microsoft made a late attempt earlier this year to join in on the Android and iOS realm with the release of their Office Mobile app, which still requires a paid Office 365 subscription (also requires the end user to have at least purchased the Office software suite as mentioned above).
4. Security & Reliability
Office 365, unlike Google Apps, is not fully cloud based. As mentioned earlier, it is considered a hybrid system, relying on both locally stored data along with information stored in data centers in the cloud. One of the key issues faced by organizations and administrators, is the lack of control when it comes to user data. Unlike Google Apps, which securely hosts all data in the cloud, users on 365 still run the risk of data loss through user error or a failing machine.
Google's solution not only provides redundant backups in multiple data centers, admins have complete control, especially with the addition of Google Vault, when it comes to user data and security. Additionally, Google Apps provides an easy to use mobile device management solution that is built right into its administrative console, ensuring admins full control even in the case of a lost or stolen mobile device.
More importantly, unlike Office 365 which only offers the occasional twitter update, Google offers full transparency about its 99.9% uptime guarantee, seen through the Google Apps Status Dashboard.
I think I've mentioned the word cloud about 8 times thus far because it really is the key to Google's dominance in the business space and the future. Google opened their ecosystem up to third party integration via the Google Apps Marketplace. The marketplace is packed with business solutions like Quickbooks, CRM's such as Salesforce and Zoho, Marketing Tools such as Mailchimp, and hundreds more. Additionally, the marketplace is continually updated and since everything is cloud based and connected to your Google Apps login, transitioning and installing new tools is easy and seamless.
Office 365's reliance on locally based solutions means that third party applications cannot simply be integrated using a secure cloud based login. Microsofts attempts at a marketplace have also failed to take off beyond a few larger vendors due to the complexity of integration, reliance on local software, and limitations with single sign on (user authentication that provides connection to multiple applications).
Google has provided businesses a cost effective solution that is packed with powerful features that integrate with most common business tools. Organizations can look forward to significantly reducing their IT overhead while hosting their data in a reliable, easy to manage solution that is secure from any potential data loss or harm. The Google Apps suite continues to expand rapidly as Google rolls out new feature updates and additions on a weekly basis.
The late contender, Office 365, is a confusing, halfhearted attempt to stay relevant by mixing traditional software packages with a stripped down version of the cloud. As with their other recent product releases, it seems that Microsoft has lost its way as its become an old dynasty clinging to their last vestige of influence in a changing landscape.