Google Apps – Panacea or Headache?

The email on ebrahim.org is currently hosted on pair Networks, a great webhost, but one whose email solutions are lacking in flexibility. I want to move to a solution where I can sync Email/Contacts/Calendar over multiple devices, for a domain with 7 mailboxes.

I’m considering two options:

Rackspace
Pros: Has all the features I’d ever need, excellent support, even for small customers.
Cons: Relatively small quota, and completely out of budget (at least US$13/user/month), email migration into Rackspace is difficult for large datasets.

As Rackspace is out of budget, I didn’t really spend much time looking into it in too much detail.

Google Apps Premier
Pros: Within budget (US$50/user/year), wide ranging feature set.
Cons: Technical support lacking (mainly DIY), doesn’t care about small customers, only compatible with old software, and import into Google Apps is a nightmare scenario due to lack of compatibility of migration tools.

However, there are significant issues which block my migration to Google Apps at the moment, most of which are shocking, given Google’s desire to capture the enterprise messaging/collaboration market.

Let’s make a list of missing features:

  • Google Apps Sync does not support Outlook 2010
  • Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook does not support Outlook 2010
  • Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook does not support Windows 7
  • There is no supported way to import a mbox format mailbox into Google Apps (there is a workaround where you can use third-party software to import the mbox into Outlook, and then use the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook, but then the Google migration tool doesn’t support Windows 7 or Outlook 2010, so you’re back to square one)

Sales of Windows 7 began in October 2009, and Office 2010 was made available to volume licensing customers in April 2010. When everybody else already supports Windows 7/Outlook 2010, Google lags far behind and lose all credibility when they claim they are the best solution for enterprise customers.

Enterprise customers rely on predictability, but yet, when asked for a timeline for when the above configurations will be supported, Google replied “we do not have a release date as yet”.

I’m ready to spend money with Google, if only they’d deliver support for modern software. A year in the software world is an eternity, and for Google to not support Windows 7 is akin to a wannabe top-tier airport telling pilots to land using VFR because they’ve not installed an ILS yet.

3 thoughts on “Google Apps – Panacea or Headache?”

  1. Hey Ali,

    Interesting write-up. I’d say Rackspace is an interesting option, but as far as features goes, Google Apps is definitely ahead. I guess if you just want an Exchange host, Rackspace is a good option, but if you want a good webmail, calendar etc. Google Apps is far ahead.

    Also, why would you need the sync tool if you are not planning to use the web-interface? Wouldn’t it be easier to just use an IMAP migration tool (assuming your old email provider support that) like Yippiemove and just move the emails once.

    If you are planning to use the web-interface, just copy all the emails once, and then deal with contacts and calendar manually. It’s just a matter of exporting and importing.

  2. Hi Viktor,

    Regarding why the sync tool is useful for Outlook, it’s because email sycned over the Google MAPI sync tool is done much faster and more elegantly than via IMAP.

    That’s an interesting comment regarding Google Apps, that you feel it’s ahead feature wise. I generally don’t care about collaboration stuff like Sites & Video. Calendar is important, but only at a personal level, not for group collaboration of schedules.

    I’m not sure why you feel that Google Apps has a better webmail and calendar. As far as calendaring goes, I feel that Outlook is pretty good, and for webmail, I’m really not a fan of Google’s threaded view and prefer the traditional per message viewing. Also, OWA in Exchange 2010 now works on all browsers equally well, so that’s pretty neat too.

    Someone pointed me earlier towards SherWeb, a Hosted Exchange company that seems to have better rates than Rackspace, and I’m definitely adding them into the mix.

    One thing that’s important to me is iPhone/iPad and Apple Mail sync support. A lot of my family members are using these devices and it’s crucial that it works with Apple products too.

    I must say, that the choice between Google Apps and Hosted Exchange is a very difficult one! I do like the Google feature set more than Exchange, but almost all of the feedback I have is that Google’s support stinks (unless you have enough users to make them care, which I don’t) and that Exchange does email better than Google, and email is by FAR the most critical part of the solution. Plus, GA Sync doesn’t support Outlook 2010, which is a problem for me.

    Regards,
    Ali

Leave a Reply