Office 365 vs. G Suite – pros and cons

As internet speeds increase and networks become more reliable, cloud-based software packages continue to grow in popularity and business value. Moving beyond the limitations of on-site storage and isolated applications, cloud-based productivity tools deliver additional benefits with unlimited storage and integrated collaboration tools.

According to the 2017 BDO Technology Outlook Survey, 74 percent of technology CFOs said cloud computing had the most measurable impact on their business in 2017. A few names have emerged as productivity front-runners, with Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite offering advantages and disadvantages for your team.

Pros of Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is the most robust and best-known office software suite in the world. Produced by the biggest name in business technology, this productivity software package includes a wide selection of the most familiar document applications Word, Excel and PowerPoint and newer collaboration tools like SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.

Office 365 subscriptions are customizable to some degree with available Business, Enterprise and Education versions. Besides the depth of applications and configurations available, Office 365 keeps your work current and consistent with regular automatic updates, OneDrive cloud access, and clever integration with all of your mobile, home and office devices.

Cons of Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is not the right package for everyone, especially with confusing product variations and a complicated pricing structure putting some people off.

Unexpected service limitations of Office 365 include a 24-hour cap on the number of email recipients, which restricts list-based communication. In addition, end-user support is lacking with no direct phone support and online help limited to articles and community forums. Some Office 365 subscribers have also been affected by downtime on the Microsoft servers.

Office 365 offers limited control over your data for individuals and smaller organizations. To receive the full set of highly advanced security features, you need the more expensive Enterprise for maximum control of your data.

Pros of G Suite

G Suite is powered by the Google cloud. This comprehensive SaaS package includes a range of productivity and collaboration tools. While Google’s applications are not as pervasive as those created by Microsoft, G Suite includes cloud-based word processing, accounting, presentation and much more. Security features are also tight since G Suite uses the same cloud infrastructure as Google itself.

Unlike the 1 TB storage limitation of Office 365, G Suite offers unlimited cloud storage for Business and Enterprise plans that include five or more users. This may be a significant advantage to large companies, creative service agencies or media organizations with extensive data storage needs. G Suite also offers seamless integration with its conferencing applications, including free local calls using Google Hangouts and Google Voice.

Cons of G Suite

Google G Suite offers a comprehensive and increasingly popular range of tools, including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Hangouts. However, Microsoft applications are still much more popular in business environments where PCs are still the dominant user device. When migrating to the cloud, some businesses may be unwilling to invest in training and support for Google apps while their staff learns a new platform.  

G Suite doesn’t have comparable desktop apps that you can use on your computer, which makes it more challenging to maintain productivity when you’re offline. This can be a significant disadvantage to some businesses with frequent travel or meetings in areas with limited internet access. While G Suite storage is better when there are more than five users under the Enterprise plan, individual users are limited to 30 GB rather than the standard 1 TB available from Office 365.

The winner is … your business

According to Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions, 2017, IT as a service will represent more than half of all IT spending by 2021. When investing in your business, it’s important to do your homework and find the best solution for your needs.

Regardless of what productivity platform you choose, Office 365 and G Suite both highlight the many advantages of working in the cloud. The power, scope, and collaborative potential of these packages can help your business to become more efficient and productive. Who knows, once you’ve experienced the wonders of the cloud, you may want to transform your entire operation into a turnkey virtualized office.

As a managed IT service provider experienced in cloud technologies, Ease Tech is ready to help you evaluate all your options to deliver maximum value to meet your business goals.

Choose your cloud provider carefully: A discussion about uptime

Uptime is a crucial part of running a successful business, especially as companies focus more and more on cloud applications. Losing access to their cloud functionality effectively shuts down the business and can cost thousands of dollars if it happens regularly. Businesses must ensure that they’re partnering with high-quality cloud service providers to ensure long-term success.

When searching for cloud service providers, follow these tips to find the highest uptime rates.

Understand the cost of downtime

All too often, companies think about their business connections in terms of downtime: we all notice when systems aren’t available and how inconvenient that is. But instead of focusing on how often a network might go down, it’s important for companies to shift the focus and start asking cloud providers about uptime – the amount of time cloud services are fully functional and available.  

The first step in discussing the necessity of uptime is to understand the cost of downtime. According to a survey reported by TechRepublic, 80% of businesses insist on 99.99% uptime from their service providers, and 15% of businesses are pushing further to demand 99.999% uptime. This high availability uptime (sometimes called “five nines”) means that systems will be available for all but 5 minutes a year, saving a company several hundred thousand dollars annually. Small and medium-sized companies are often working with a fairly limited budget so few can afford to lose that kind of money.

Look for transparency

Potential cloud service providers should be willing to share information with you. For example, the way the company computes downtime may not be as simple as you think. For example, a company might calculate downtime by minutes available per user. In a system with 100 users, for example, 99.99% uptime could mean that a system is down for several hours before a company receives service credit.  

Cloud service providers should be using monitoring software to track issues and problems with their service. They should be willing to share that information with their partner companies, giving – at the bare minimum – the ability to run reports.  

Consider the contract terms

In general, it’s a good idea to partner with any vendor long enough to establish a solid knowledge base and get a feel for their service. Standard service contract periods are designed to ensure that provider companies can properly budget resources and that client businesses can budget for recurring costs.

That said, knowing the conditions for exiting your contract is important. Being trapped for too long with a service provider who cannot satisfy your needs, delivers inconsistently or costs the company time and money can be a disaster for any business.

Ask the provider what terms allow either party to cancel the agreement. Also, always read the Ts and Cs (terms and conditions) of any contract signed. If the provider promises something different, get that in writing as an addendum or change order. Contact your managed IT services provider for help finding and implementing the right cloud solution for your business.

Making the Business Case for Virtualization

Challenging economic times push businesses to look for more efficient ways of doing things, even if these new ways include risks and learning curves. Adopting virtualization is one way companies are evolving to become more efficient, and thus, stay ahead of the competition.

However, as with any new IT initiative, often managers find they need to sell the new technology before their company will even think about adoption. After all, new technologies typically carry expenses, in the form of new hardware and software, and that learning curve mentioned above, which can be expensive, too.

When attempting to bring everyone on board with virtualization at your company, you’ll need to develop a carefully crafted business case. The following are ideas you can include that will help you sell the benefits of virtualization while easing concerns about risks and costs.

In short, virtualization removes the inefficiency of the old “one server, one application” model, in which many business servers are underutilized. With virtualization, one single server can function as multiple virtual machines, with each one having the ability to operate in different environments such as Windows, Linux, or Apache. When companies adopt virtualization, they are able to consolidate multiple servers onto fewer physical devices, helping to reduce space, power, and administrative requirements.

Virtualization offers quite a few other business benefits as well. For example, it helps with business continuity and offers complete data protection so your company is able to achieve continuous application availability and automated disaster recovery across physical sites. Virtualization allows you to simplify backup and recovery of your data and systems and to improve responsiveness through increased efficiency and flexibility. With all of these benefits on your side, your company’s IT will help drive innovation.

Let’s break down in detail the reasons that consolidating operations onto fewer servers can help your company. This consolidation allows you to:

  • Dramatically lower hardware costs and the associated cooling and space costs
  • Improve productivity across your organization and free up valuable IT time by simplifying your IT infrastructure, leaving more time to focus on strategic initiatives
  • Reduce costly downtime and streamline business contingency planning so you know your data is secure in the event of a natural disaster or another unforeseen event
  • Now, let’s examine the ways your business can use virtualization to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

One of the best benefits of virtualization is lower server infrastructure costs. Consolidating excess server and desktop hardware increases utilization rates, and reduced hardware means lower energy bills, too. You’ll save floor space, as well, because virtualization eliminates server sprawl by allowing you to run multiple applications on a single server. Your company could even reduce hardware and maintenance costs by as much as half.

Virtualization makes your company more efficient because it improves staff productivity, allowing your IT team to focus on more strategic projects that can help speed time to market for new products or services you are developing. Since IT employees won’t have to order and set up a new server for every new application, you can get applications up and running smoother and more efficiently. And, with fewer technical issues to manage, your IT team can focus on improving customer service or developing new projects. Virtualization can be combined with cloud services to move your servers to a hosted environment adds even more benefits that could include extensive backups, improved failover and greater security.

Finally, backup and recovery get a huge boost from virtualization because your company is protected from downtime and disaster. Business continuity solutions can be expensive and complex, but even the smallest organizations can achieve a solid continuity plan with virtualization.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to consider adopting virtualization for business. Now, it is your turn to sell these points to your team so you can begin reaping the benefits of virtualization.

Office 365 vs Hosted Exchange – Pros and Cons

The correct cloud hosting solution can help eliminate the hassles of server management and save you money with pricing that scales per usage. There are many hosting options, this type of evaluation can be rather complicated.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Office 365, you may be looking to see if this solution is a good fit for your company, or is a hosted Exchange service better suited for your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons to help you make the right choice for your business.

Pros Office 365
Because Office 365 is managed by Microsoft, some IT managers believe it is superior to third-party hosted Exchange providers. They believe Office 365 is empowered by Microsoft’s resources, investment, and level of expertise.

As updates are released to the public, your hosting provider will likely need to test it before introducing it to the customer hosting environment. However, Microsoft can test products as it develops them, potentially rolling out Office 365 updates more quickly.

When you choose Office 365, you automatically get Instant Messaging, Sharepoint and Lync Online for meetings. While other providers offer an array of added services, purchasing Office 365 bundles these services are upfront.

Cons Office 365
Office 365 limits the number of email recipients you can have within a 24-hour period to 500 for small business accounts and 1500 for enterprise accounts. These limits apply to the total number of emails you send and not just to one email.

While downtime is a risk associated with any provider, Microsoft’s Office 365 services seem to go down with more regularity than some companies are comfortable with. And when Office 365 customers have problems, they are left high and dry–which brings us to the next downfall.  Small business Office 365 users do not get direct phone support. Instead, they must settle for searching through Help articles on Microsoft’s website or posting questions to the community forum to resolve their problems.  An IT Support service partner helps in these situations.

Pros Hosted Exchange
Unlike Office 365, hosted Exchange providers excel at providing support to their customers–and this includes phone support. If you have a problem with your account or service, you can get real support from real people, right when you need it. With most hosted Exchange services, you only pay for what you want. For companies looking to make every dollar count, it makes sense to pay for only the services that are right for your business rather than be forced into a bundle.

Hosted Exchange providers do not impose the daily total recipient limits that Office 365 customers must contend with. But, for many users, the biggest issue with the Office 365 limits is that the clause is obscured in the fine print. Hosted Exchange providers give you easy access to customer support, so you can learn about your service from a person instead of reading about it in the fine print.

Cons Hosted Exchange
While everyone in the business world is already familiar with Microsoft, companies opting for a hosted Exchange solution will have to do their homework on the provider they choose. This issue can easily be mitigated by knowing what your company needs and discussing your options with the provider directly. Reliable providers will be happy to discuss your needs and concerns to guide you to the best solution for your company.

Customers who go with a hosted Exchange service may not get an automatic bundle of services. However, most customers appreciate the option of selecting only the services they need, creating custom solutions for their business.

Hosted Exchange providers are not directly affiliated with Microsoft, but they enjoy strong partnerships with, and full licensing of, Microsoft and its products. And, most providers employ Microsoft Certified Professionals who are experts in providing you with cloud services.

Deciding which cloud services are right for your business doesn’t have to be a headache. Simply weighing the pros and cons of using hosted Exchange or Office 365 can clear things up quickly. As with any business decision, the most important considerations are your particular company’s needs and budget. Whatever your situation, a little research will lead you to the solution that’s right for you. In addition, speak to an IT Support expert or consultant to provide an independent view of your needs.

Are you interested to know if your business is a good cloud candidate?  Take this test. And then let the experts at EaseTech know how we can help you put cloud technology to work for you.