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Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and Your Responsibility?

With these improvements, live document editing is not as powerful a selling point it once was. It also has a reliance on your internet connection and your pc not running slowly. I’ve used it with colleagues abroad and the time delay on the connection has made it really frustrating. I’m not trying to knock a great product feature, merely expressing my opinion that it is far from perfect. The post goes on to say that Office 365 is for Windows and Google Apps is for all devices because the web is their platform. Office 365 is basically contained online all accessible after 1 sign in, unlike with BPOS. It also has its biggest advantage in this sphere as it has full online/offline capability as well as being web based. There is a small element of truth though in the fact that the IM within Office 365 does not work on Macs and there are certain limitations and charges attached to mobile devices.

Next we approach price and features, something particularly interesting to me as we run such comparisons on our website. Google Apps is touted as simple and affordable and they definitely have a point, although they fail to mention that there are charges for Postini services that any large company should be implementing unless selecting another 3rd party app which Google can happily take no responsibility for. Whilst Microsoft can be criticised for being focussed on integration and compatibility with Microsoft products alone, this also puts them in the position of being responsible for all of those products. Google forms a hub for 3rd party applications which can all cause their own problems and fail independently for which they cannot be blamed.

One thing that Office 365 has definitely done is complicate the argument. There are now a multitude of options which means a tailored plan and consultation with a partner is vital for any business. The thing that really stood out though is the fact that telephone support has been removed from the small business plan (P1). I searched the O365 support forums and found that this is true and quite a revelation at that as the telephone support for BPOS has always been very good and delivered from an 0800 number. I suppose the post didn’t focus on this bombshell as Google have been claiming 24/7 phone support for years without providing it (as far as I can tell, if you have the support number then please let me know).

The final point is on ‘pure and proven cloud’, in a very ‘we were here first’ statement the article states ‘You can’t just take legacy, desktop software, move some of it to a data center and call it “cloud.”’

I would suggest you can and that is exactly what most IT companies in the world have been doing for the past few years, unless Google is the only cloud. From a conceptual point of view though I suppose there is something in this. The internet was developed to harness and share computer power across the globe. The consumer side and the increased communication was an inevitable side product of the military’s goals. Google do this and do it well.  They harness computer power across the globe and your data floats around within this network. Conceptually I love it. It is what the internet was designed to do.

It’s also absolutely true that everything Google was designed for the web and that they offer a great deal of ‘free’ products which are remarkable value. A word of warning though, nothing is free, Google is not a charity and everyone should be aware of what they sign up to within their Google account. If you do this you can use the ‘free’ products knowingly. The value may still be there for you, the only thing I suggest is that we don’t all sign every detail about our lives and ourselves away and use ignorance as an excuse later on.
After this though, at the launch of Office 365 the issue of the Patriot Act reared its head once again. Now, it had been implied that because MS data is stored within the EU it was immune to the patriot act (an act which says the US can seize any data it wants to for security purposes). It was admitted that it was not immune as the Patriot act allows the US government to seize documents held by any company which is owned in the US or whose parent company is within the US. This may well be good news for UK based (and owned) hosted exchange companies and with all the hype around Office 365v and Google Apps I’m sure it is well received!

The conclusion then is simple – get the right advice, do your research, know what you’re signing up for. The bias on the internet and the lack of repercussions for authors of misinformation make it a minefield for all of us. I believe that the cloud is a good thing and on certain levels the internet promotes transparency. The only worry is that authors of the News of the World are held to higher standards than internet authors (don’t worry the irony is not wasted) when it comes to the accuracy of information and that is a terrifying thought.
You can read the article here: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2011/06/365-reasons-to-consider-google-apps and rest assured all of you out there trying to contact Google Apps support, I’ve asked for the number and if I get it I’ll share it with one and all!

Author profile: Andrew Gradwell
Andrew Gradwell has experience in all levels of IT, as a user, support engineer and a company director. Heading up Cloud Hypermarket, Andrew is on a mission to bring cloud savings to companies that really need it, rather than those its most profitable to sell to.

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