Google Apps vs Microsoft Exchange
Here at Technology Box we are big fans of Google Apps. So why do we sometimes recommend Exchange servers instead?
First of all, Exchange is good if you like using Outlook. Don’t laugh. Lots of people spend a great deal of their working lives within Outlook and get on well with it. And there are no real competitors to Outlook as a desktop email client for business. Thunderbird has some good points, but try sharing address books or organising appointments and you soon see serious limitations.
The other big deal with Exchange is privacy and responsibility. With your own server, you are not letting a third party look through every single email that you send or receive, and you also know exactly where the information is stored. Cloud based providers could be keeping your information in another country’s jurisdiction, and you don’t know who has access.
You are responsible for the exchange server. This is a double-edged sword. It’s your server so you need spend money and effort to look after it, and Exchange servers really can take some looking after. But on the flip side if there is a problem, you can get straight in there and fix it. Google Apps has been very reliable for us for the last 5 years, but in the event of a problem you would be dealing with a faceless help desk and you’re just one of millions of customers.
The last point I’d like to make about exchange is integration. It’s been a popular mail server for so long now that it’s practically an industry standard. This means that pretty much any Unified Communications or CRM system will work with it. For example, our Swyx systems are 100% designed for Outlook and Exchange integration.
So those are the plus points of exchange. But we still like Google Apps and help our customers migrate to the platform. Why? Firstly, it’s very easy. You don’t need to buy or maintain a server. There are a lot of smaller companies out there who are starting to realise that you don’t need any servers. A combination of Apps, a NAS device and a fast internet connection is enough.
For larger companies there are also advantages. The Google Mail web client is brilliant. I think that it’s actually better than Outlook for day-to-day email productivity. My inbox typically only has about 10 items in it. The rest is archived, but I can easily get to it with the search bar which is so much better than the search in Outlook. Also, instead of folders I can tag emails individually for example “support requests” or “new inquiries”, using both tags if both apply.
The last advantage I’d like to mention concerns home users and branch offices. Using Google Apps just works much better in this environment. As soon as your office or home is connected to the web you can log on and get started. Granted, with exchange you could use Outlook Web Access or Outlook Anywhere. But OWA is not very nice to use, and Outlook Anywhere is a pain to set up.
So to summarise:
Good points about Exchange
- Integration with 3rd party software
Good points about Google Apps
- No need to buy or maintain a server.
- Google Apps web client – especially search.
- Multi-site and multi-device works better.