It’s the next generation of email.
Summary: This article explains the basics of Google’s Apps, and why it’s a perfect fit for any small business.
I’m a Google Apps fan. It provides small and medium business an enterprise quality email system – that only a few years ago was reserved for big businesses that could afford to shell out thousands of dollars for an email solution like Microsoft Exchange Server. On top of it’s email platform, it provides a host of other useful goodies bundled in for free.
But isn’t email all the same?
No. The old system of email that has been around since the beginning is called POP (post office protocol). POP mail is likely what your using if you’re email is hosted with your webhost along with your website.
Pop works like snail mail. A message is delivered into a mailbox, and when your computer (eg Outlook) sends and receives, it empties it. Moving all the email onto your computer.
As they are only intended for temporary storage traditionally POP mailboxes are also quite small eg 250MB. It is not uncommon for someone to go on holiday for a couple of weeks, and without their computer turned on and Outlook emptying the mailbox – it fills up. Then people start getting ‘mailbox full’ bounce back messages. They return from holidays to find no one could email them. (not always a bad thing) Webhost supplied pop mail, usually rejects email messages larger than 12MB too.
Another danger is that without adequate backup procedures in place, you can very easily lose all your email when your hard drive dies.
POP was fine during the 80s, 90s and noughties. But today the way we work is different, and POP is just a bit lacking. The biggest limitation is that these days we don’t just connect to our email from the one computer.
These days we want to connect to our email on our work computer, at home (in emergencies), on our laptop, ipad, phone and from an internet cafe in Byron Bay when we’re on holiday.
POP cannot cope with this very well at all. Do yourself a big favour and get on Google Apps for Business.
Why Google Apps email is different.
Google Apps email is powered by their Gmail system – the largest email system in the world. Google Apps for Business is different from Gmail though. For starters you have @your-domain.com email addresses. Gmail is for personal accounts. Google Apps for Business is for … business obviously.
Just like Gmail if you are familiar with it, all your email is stored in the cloud. (on Google’s servers) Google allocates 25GB to every mailbox. 25GB is a lot of email.
Unlike POP when Outlook Sends and Receives (via Google Apps Outlook connector). It does not empty the mailbox. Instead it synchronises any changes.
In fact it synchronises both ways. So if you move an email into a folder, or delete it, or mark something as unread – the change is synced to Google. Now when your sitting on the train, on the way home from work, and you check your mail on your phone – low and behold your phone has exactly mirrored the state Outlook was in back at work. Everything stays in perfect sync across all your devices.
Note that sent items sync too. So you can find and forward a message you sent from your work computer while you’re drinking terrible coffee at the airport.
Your email is also easily available from any computer in the world via the excellent Gmail interface. And guess what? You don’t need to worry about losing all your email when your hard drive crashes. Google’s got it covered.
So what does Google charge for this?
Google changes AUD $50/user/year. This modest subscription will be recovered easily in efficiency and productivity gains. These days we need to be nimble and have access to the information we need anywhere anytime. Google Apps is big part of it.
In terms of administration, managing Google Apps for your company is done through a control panel, that makes adding removing users, and setting company preferences very easy.
But wait there’s more
While for most email is the key product, and is the focus of this article. Google bundles a host of useful extras with Google Apps. Some have the potential to be enormously beneficial to many businesses. The most noteworthy extras include:
- Calendar – Sync your calendar across all your devices. Share calendars with co workers. Publish group calendars.
- Docs & Slides – Create word and powerpoint like documents. Easily shared and accessible from anywhere.
- Sheets – Online spreadsheeting. Worthy of individual note, because sheets can be edited by multiple people at the same time from anywhere in the world. This is a very versatile tool, and I have seen sheets used many times for quick and easy collaborative solutions.
- Drive – Google’s recent addition of Drive, gives every user 5GB of cloud storage. Dropbox provides 2GB for free, so is at 5GB is a very worthy inclusion.
Is it hard to change?
Moving to Google Apps isn’t all that hard, but does involve changing DNS records, and things like reconfiguring Outlook and phones etc. While you can likely do it yourself, you’ll be spending a lot of time reading forums. Your IT support provider should be able to assist with the implementation.