Review: Office 365 vs. Google Apps

With Office 365 now available in final form, here's what you need to know to decide if Office 365 or Google Apps (or neither) is right for your organization

By Woody Leonhard, InfoWorld |  On-demand Software, Google, Google Apps

The wizard has an interesting series of steps that show you how to test Gmail using a "real" email account -- say, the email address you're using right now -- without disrupting the current flow of mail. If you're using Outlook or some other email package, and you can tell your mail server to send duplicate copies of your inbound messages to a different server, that's all you need. In my case, I wanted to test with my regular email account, woody@askwoody.com, which I normally handle through Outlook. I followed the instructions in the Google Apps setup wizard and had my mail server send a copy of inbound emails to woody@askwoody.com.test-google-a.com. Bingo. Any mail sent to my email address appeared in both my regular Outlook inbox, and in my Google Apps Gmail test inbox. I could test with live data, without affecting the normal flow of email. Working in a similar fashion, you can gradually move people over to Gmail without upsetting their current email procedures, and both the "legacy" and new Gmail accounts will work in concert.

The Google Apps setup wizard is always one click away, using the admin control panel. It remembers your location in the setup sequence, allowing you to leave, then come back and pick up where you left off.

By contrast, setup in Office 365 isn't nearly as easy. Log in with an admin id, click on the Admin tab, and you're presented with a dozen options (see Figure 2).Figure 2: Office 365’s setup is complicated – but then, so is the package.

Part of the reason Google's approach seems streamlined by comparison is the old apples and oranges thing: There's simply so much more to set up in Office 365.

When you add new users in Office 365, they're immediately given email inboxes, a default Team Site, and instant messaging. But beyond that, you have to carve out your custom environment. Will you implement single sign-on, or require users to sign-on once locally, then again in the cloud? If so, there's a complex series of steps to get single sign-on working. Do you want Active Directory services to apply both locally and online? If so, you have to set up syncing Active Directory between your on-premises server and the Office 365 server. You have to switch domains over to the Office 365 server. Manage SharePoint permissions. Get Lync configured. And you need to push updates for Office 2010 or 2007 onto all of your users' machines, so they can connect with the Office 365 servers and services. That's just to get started.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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