The cloud give businesses a lot of flexibility and rest of mind. Businesses started to consider the move to the cloud because they wanted the ability to have their work done and then be able to access it from home or wherever they might be.
After you have made the decision to move to the cloud, the next question becomes – “which of the cloud providers should i go with?”. There are a number of cloud providers that you can choose from. However, two key players when it comes to cloud based business includes Microsoft and Google. This two companies offer similar features in that they both have Email, productivity suite, collaboration, communication, and social networking. Now let’s have a summary look at each of the provider.
Microsoft Office 365 is a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that includes Microsoft Office productivity applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and Microsoft Outlook with an annual or monthly paid subscription. Office apps can be installed locally or accessed and run online. Office 365 subscriptions also typically include One Drive for file sharing and storage, SharePoint Online, and Skype for business. Office 365 is a good choice for larger businesses with more complex demands, looking for solution that can scale as they grow.
Note: Microsoft has grown out of the enterprise – bringing different tools with different features together to establish what is known as Office 365 cloud service
Similar to Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps is a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that includes Google’s Office productivity apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides through a monthly paid subscription. While Google Apps don’t install locally, the Google Apps can still be run when offline through a Chrome browser. Email services are
provided through Google’s Gmail cloud email service. Google Apps subscription also typically include video and voice calls, online storage through Google Drive, project collaboration web sites and more. This is perfect for smaller companies that do not have complex demands and would like to work with an intuitive user interface
Note: Google is a native online company.
While Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 offer many similar services, choosing between the two can be a significant challenge for many businesses. Here are my 6 comparative points that ease that burden:
- Familiarity: With Office 365, you will get familiarity. This is because most people are familiar with the look and feel of the office product such as word, excel etc. Google Apps on the other hand is designed to work within the browser and it is 100% cloud based. If you work in an organization with large staff strength then chances are that most of you staffs will be more familiar with Microsoft Office suite whereas for a smaller startup, Google platform might be a better choice. Be sure to make your decisions based on what best suits your organization structure.
- Pricing: Pricing is an important determining factor, but equally important are the feature offerings. Both Services start at $5 per month. Microsoft requires a full-year commitment for its enterprise plans, while Google’s entire suite is available on a monthly basis. Cost is just one of the many concerns IT managers must consider when investing in cloud-based productivity platforms.
- System Requirement: In other to connect to Office 365 and have a seamless experience, you need to have MS Office 2007 or later, Windows 7 or later, Internet Explorer 8 or later. Whereas for Google App, it is all web based so you need a web browser on your computer and no need to have any other additional software.
- Compatibility: Ask yourself what is your “mission critical” operating systems and devices. You choose a plan that will work best with the devices you have in your environment. e.g if you are going to require a Full Desktop version of the cloud
application, Office 365 have that capabilities whereas Google Apps does not. Another example is ‘mobile app availability’. Office 365 comes with support for Android, iOS, Blackberry, & Windows Phone whereas Google apps only support Android & iOS.
- Compliance and security: In the area of security, both companies have made a lot of investments in ensuring that they meet up with their customers security needs. However, Microsoft Office 365 slightly edge Google Apps when it comes to user level security. Example: Microsoft Office 365 support Right Management – which gives you the ability to control what people can do with your messages like the ability not to be able to print, forward etc. Google Apps does not have this capability. Another example is Data Loss Prevention (DLP) – DLP helps to ensure that users do not send sensitive or critical information like credit card numbers outside the corporate network. Microsoft Office 365 comes with this support and Google Apps does not.
- Migration: If you already have an on-premises solution and you are looking to move to the cloud. The process of moving your current solution into the cloud is known as ‘Migration’. You can easily migrate your current solution to any of the platforms without much hassle. However, if you are considering keeping your on-premises solution and then combining it with the cloud (Hybrid), – with Google, you will have to export your account and import them to your Google account. However, it does not have native ‘always-on’ synchronization with what you have on premises. Hence, you will manage the two networks separately. In the case of Microsoft Office 365, If you have ‘Active Directory’ you can setup ‘Active Directory synchronization’ which give you the ability to sync your on premises account with Office 365.
As a general rule of thumb, when choosing a cloud provider, you should look out for the following:
- Ensure that the provider is well known, have a good data center infrastructure.
- Ensure that the provider has a strong community of users that can provide the feedback that will help you decide.
- Finally be sure to ask about their compatibility with other vendors in the event that you need to migrate from that provider to another so that you do not end up being Locked-in to that vendor.
Note: Vendor Lock-in is a situation in which a customer using product/service can not easily transition to competitor’s product/service. I will try to explain ‘Vendor Lock-In’ further in my upcoming post.
Now that you have more knowledge about these two powerful cloud vendors and their cloud software application service offerings, then you decide which best suit you or your business.
Kindly share your thought .