If you’re ready to move to the cloud, it’s important that you weigh all your options and pick the cloud computing services that best fits your need. Google Apps and Office 365, the cloud computing services provided by Google and Microsoft, respectively, are two of the market leaders. While both of these services offer cloud computing capabilities, they differ on key points.
As far as experience in the cloud, Google first introduced Google Apps in 2006, whereas Office 365 did not come on the market until July 2011. In addition to having more experience in cloud-based computing, Google Apps also boasts a wider range of experience, offering platforms specifically for businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. In contrast, Office 365 is available only for businesses.
Moving to either Google Apps or Office 365 will involve an installation and information migration process. Google Apps users are provided with a set up wizard that breaks down the installation process each step of the way. Office 365 users are provided with significantly less help during installation, and the process itself is much more complicated than that of Google Apps.
Once installed, the two services operate quite differently. While Google Apps draws upon a variety of Google-powered tools to serve its customers, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Documents, Google Sites, Google Video, and Google Groups, Office 365 utilizes Microsoft Web Apps, Exchange, Sharepoint, and Lync.
Gmail and Outlook are the email services employed by Google Apps and 365. Though people are most likely familiar with both of these services, Gmail from personal use and Outlook from business use, they are hardly the same. Gmail and Outlook offer the same baseline tools, however Gmail’s services extend much farther than those of Outlook. Unique features to Gmail include a Google-powered search to easily locate archived conversations, threaded emails to organize the inbox, and IM/video chat right in Gmail.
Another key difference between Google Apps and Office 365 is their document creating capabilities. Those who choose Google Apps are provided with Google Docs, which is hosted 100% in the web browser. Through Google Docs, users can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, among other files and then share these files with others simply by clicking a “Share” button and choosing specified people. Those who opt for Office 365 are offered two options for creating documents: Microsoft Web Apps or a locally installed version of Microsoft Office on the desktop. While Microsoft Web Apps is an option, the 365 system runs better with the desktop version of Microsoft Office, which adds a burden to the ability to access documents from anywhere.
Reliability of the cloud computing service is another area in which the differences between Google Apps and Office 365 are vast. Google Apps’ boasts a 99.9% uptime guarantee, ensuring their customers that their data will be accessible wherever and whenever necessary. On the other hand, Office 365 was created as a result of reliability problems with its predecessor Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS). The BPOS Microsoft program has a reputation for crashing often and for protracted periods of time.
The costs of the two cloud computing services are one area where their differences are most obvious. Google Apps is the lower priced of the two services, with Google Apps for Business (http://www.cloudsherpas.com/google-apps/google-apps-for-business/) running at $50/user/year and all other Google Apps platforms priced lower. The most basic plan of Office 365 runs at $6/user/month, with Office 365 Professional plus priced at $12/user/month for small businesses and $24/user/month for enterprises. Not only is the Google Apps pricing plan less complicated and less expensive than that of Office 365, but also the ongoing IT costs of Google Apps are lower. Because Google Apps runs without any additional hardware or software, IT needs and costs are much less than that of Office 365, which runs best in conjunction with Microsoft Office installed on the desktop.
Because Google Apps offers a wider variety of communication and collaboration tools geared for a larger audience, all with more reliable service for a lower price than Office 365, Google Apps continue to lead the cloud computing market.
This blog post is brought to you by Cloud Sherpas. Cloud Sherpas is a leading Google Apps cloud service provider. As a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and Google Enterprise partner, we have migrated over one million users across all major industries from legacy, on-premise messaging systems to Google Apps, helping organizations adopt cloud computing to innovate and dramatically reduce their IT expenses. Get to know our company by checking out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cloudsherpas.