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We are looking at using Google Apps for Business for our emails and general "Outlook" functions. Are there any pitfalls to look out for, or something great that may have been overlooked?

In general it's more a question of, is Google Apps ready to be used by a medium-sized business?

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6 Answers 6

I manage about 60 Google Apps domains (more than 4000 mailboxes) and it works very well from an administrative prospective. Most users have adapted to it, although there are a few huge issues:

  • Moving existing mail into Google Apps is a very slow process. Imported mail also tended to confuse users. Most of our users got a clean inbox and we setup Outlook with PSTs.
  • Many users are confused by threaded conversations and often times accidentally forward information they didn't want to send.
  • Outlook can be used with Google Apps domains but it is not recommended. Don't use it unless it's essential for the user.
  • Offline Mail works well, but it causes a lot of time consuming support issues. Don't use it unless it's essential for the user.
  • Google Docs will not replace the desktop application.
  • If you have multiple separate Google Apps domains there is no Global Address List between the domains. You will need to use a 3rd Party tool or work with the Google Apps API.
  • Limited centralized & tiered Administration: You are either an Admin or a user. Insert 3rd party tool if necessary. List of limitations.

I'd recommend that if you have executives that live and die with Outlook you should consider keeping some users on Exchange.

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Just wanted to comment on one of your bullet points. I also manage a multiple apps domains and recently saw an Apps update on one of the Google blogs pointing out that they will be supporting having multiple domains under the same Apps account soon so the global address list issue will get better. Here is hoping they actually add an interface to manage it too :) –  Brad Gardner Jul 1 '10 at 12:33

We use Google Apps at Storm and it works really well for us. It does everything we want it to do and more. It's fast, reliable, good spam filtering, great UI, good calendar and docs integration and best of all it's constantly evolving and getting better. I love the recent addition of being able to drag and drop attachements to mails and they're adding stuff like that all the time.

One feature I know is missing that a lot of Exchange based companies are used to is Public Folders. I don't believe their is a work around for that one yet - not that I've looked into it too much.

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Dropbox can be configured to work very well as public folders that the entire team can use to share files. dropbox.com –  skamradt Jun 30 '10 at 21:28
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Google Docs allows shared documents and any type of file can be uploaded to Google Docs, so that should be enough for many circumstances –  Casebash Jul 5 '10 at 8:29

There are a lot of examples of people using Google Apps for business / education on the Google Enterprise Blog... of course that's a bit one-sided!

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I have personally worked for 3 businesses which relied on Google Apps for Business for their email and calendar infrastructure. Although there were a few outages, the worst of which lasted around 36 hours, I would HIGHLY recommend Google Apps if your organization fits the following profile:

  • Small company (>50 employees).
  • Don't already have Exchange infrastructure.
  • The majority of employees are comfortable with the GMail interface (threaded messages, labels).
  • Don't want to spend the money or time setting and supporting an Exchange email solution.
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don't you mean less than 50 employees? –  Peter Mortensen Jul 7 '10 at 21:50

Given that Google Apps is being used by large enterprises such as General Electric, Proctor & Gamble, Google, City of Los Angeles, as well as by countless startups, I would say that Google Apps is ready for medium sized businesses.

Compared to Outlook/Exchange, the only risk is to to the jobs of people upgrading desktop computers with the latest additions & patches for MS-Office, and for those folks administering MS-Exchange and the computing infrastructure it resides on. (Of course that frees them up to do more useful IT work for the company).

The main "work item" for businesses is to get Google Apps integrated with your single sign-on system. But there are are many Google Apps partners to help with that.

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In answer to your general question, here in the UK Virgin Media have moved all mailboxes for their ISP services across to Google Apps.

They are a very large ISP with users in the millions.

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