How about a big smooch for Valentine's Day?

We found it interesting that last month, Microsoft sent out Valentine’s Day Love Letters about breaking up… It was all about how people and businesses that “Broke Up” with Microsoft and switched to Google Apps. Here’s the kicker – it claims that they wanted to come back to Microsoft’s loving arms. As amusing as it was, it touched on a great deal of what Microsoft really has going for it… Mainly, Microsoft has had its claws into our computer based workflow for nearly two decades – that’s right – 20+ years of Microsft Windows and all it brought to our computing world.

There was an article written by the San Francisco Chronicle (SFC) about some of the reasons why people were switching back to Microsoft after trying out Google Apps for Business. There is mention of a follow-up article that will bring light to the other side, those switching away from Microsoft over to Google Apps, but we’ve not seen that yet. Being able to present both sides, with a healthy dose of reality should be the focused effort of the SFC.

Here is a quick excerpt from the article and some ideas on how it fell short…

BridgeView IT is an IT recruiting firm with about 30 employees and 100 freelance consultants. In a phone interview, BridgeView cofounder Tim Glennie explained that his company faced an expensive upgrade to its on-premise e-mail system, which was based on an old version of Microsoft’s Exchange Server. To save money, the company looked at Google Apps, which costs $50 per user per year.

But after the 30-day trial ended last October, BridgeView decided to go with Microsoft’s hosted offering, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) instead.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Google Apps had trouble syncing data with employees’ BlackBerry devices.
  • BridgeView makes heavy use of nested email folders in Outlook, which didn’t show up correctly in Gmail.
  • When BridgeView tried to contact Google for support, they couldn’t find a phone number to call. Google does offer a support line for issues like major outages, but for point questions Google pointed BridgeView to online forums.

At G-Apps Masters, we could have solved these failure points very easily:

  1. Blackberry: Sync’ing with Blackberry is a piece of cake. The easiest, least intrusive way is to use the Google Apps GMail application. It works, and works well, to give you 100% functionality of GMail (read/compose, star, report spam, labels, etc). While it is a useful tool, we find that most of our clients want to use the native Blackberry e-mail (messaging) and sync contacts and calendars with the device (wirelessly). This can be accomplished by using IMAP for e-mail (connects directly to Google Apps mail servers and syncs in real-time) as well as Google Sync for contact/calendar sync. Not only does this solution work, and work well, it saves immediate costs over the requirement to have a BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) and a BES mobile carrier contract (usually $10-20 per phone more than BIS – Blackberry Internet Services plans). In a 50 user organization, switching to Google Apps would cost $2,500 in licenses with Blackberry (BIS) costs at ~$20/user/month – around $1,000/mo. With BES (dedicated server, $3,000-5,000), requires connecting to Microsoft Exchange server, with Blackberry Licenses ($100/device) + Blackberry (BES) costs at $40/user/month – around $2,000/month. You can quickly see the cost savings in initial hardware, licensing, labor for setup/configuration by professional IT Services, monthly recurring carrier costs, not to mention maintenance when BES requires upgrades (or Exchange requires patches, backups, updates/upgrades). Google Apps still sits at $50/user per year. With no required maintenance. Sound simple? If you need more clarity, see our Support forum for Blackberry Setup with Google Apps
  2. Nested Folders: Within Google Apps (GMail) there is a feature called LABELS. Labels replace the typical nomenclature of FOLDERS. Whereas we are used to the physical world of one paper, one folder, labels eliminates this old method for filing and managing e-mail. GMail is predicated on Google’s powerful search capability. When we use Outlook to handle e-mail, we look for organization in the form of folders. With GMail, you have new options. You can retain the use of Folders by making a 1:1 connection with Labels. This is built into the platform. Labels = Folders when it comes to GMail. Here’s where it gets tricky… Having folders, under folders, under other folders – aka “Nested Folders”. This is a great organizational method for keeping your folders organized. However, it simply replicates human nature to store in a logical, hierarchical function. You want to find the May 2010 invoice for XYZ Company, look in the drawer for Clients, Sorted alphabetically, look for letter X, find “XYZ Company” labeled folder, then open it, look for section for “Invoices” in their folder, then look for the 2010 labels, then look for May labels, then find the invoice. With Google Apps and GMail, you can simply search for “XYZ Company invoice may 2010″ in the search bar. It will search your entire 25GB mail storage and report what it found – usually within 2-3 seconds. If you look at the Outlook “folders” example, you see it may have taken 5-6 clicks – with GMail it took one click. Now I know you’re saying to yourself, “Outlook can search for messages too!”. You’re right, it can, but it does so with the help of Windows Search 4.0 – which is constantly bogging down your computer as it indexes the contents of every file, folder, e-mail, etc. If you tried to search Outlook and had 10GB of e-mail, two things would probably happen – 1) Your system would search, and search, and search – taking several minutes, maybe even longer; 2) Because your Outlook mail storage file (PST/OST) was 10GB, Outlook and/or your computer, would probably crash/freeze/blue screen. Using labels in GMail is an old method for organizing your e-mail – but can be done very simply and easily using labels. (Also, there is a “Lab” feature for “Nested Labels” which replicates 100% of what they said could not be done in GMail.)
  3. Google Apps Support: Every Google Apps for Business licensed domain gets 24×7 access to Google Enterprise Support. If you have a functional issue, call their support line and they will happily create a ticket and get it into the queue for processing. Depending on the severity, you will receive a response within a day or two – sometimes longer. As an Authorized Google Apps Reseller, G-Apps Masters has access to tools that can help speed up the support process. We offer Google Apps Support 24×7 telephone, e-mail and web support. If you have an issue that cannot be resolved, let us know. We can usually solve issues within hours, where it may take Enterprise Support days/weeks. Our team lives and breathes Google Apps. We know how it works, why it works, and what to do if things aren’t behaving properly. With experience comes knowledge – and we’ve been using Google Apps since it was launched, and supporting our clients since the day after it was launched. Visit our Support Portal to access our Knowledgebase & Help Forums, as well as to create a ticket if you need a resolution to Google Apps Help & Support.

G-Apps Masters is an Authorized Google Apps Reseller. For all your Google Apps Support needs, please contact us so we can assist you with your Technical Support requests: (877) 774-4664 or (877) 77-4-GOOG