What Is It
Google Apps is a service from Google for using custom domain names with several Google products. It features several Web applications with similar functionality to traditional office suites, including: Gmail, Google Calendar, Talk, Docs and Sites.
The Standard Edition is free and offers the same amount of storage as regular Gmail accounts. The Premier Edition, which offers additional e-mail storage, is available for an annual fee. The Education Edition, which is free, combines features from the Standard and Premier editions.
How Does It Work
Google Apps is a web-based hosted solution, which means you can access Google Apps at anytime, anywhere you have an Internet connection. You might hear this type of technology referred to as “software-as-a-service” or “cloud computing”. “Cloud computing” or “software-as-a-service” is a computing model in which IT applications are provided “as a service”, allowing users to access these applications from the Internet (“in the cloud”) without needing to maintain the infrastructure that supports them. A simple way to understand the model is how people currently allow companies to run and manage their electricity rather than generating it within their home/office themselves.
With Google Apps, your data and the applications themselves are served from Google’s highly secure, scalable, and reliable data centers. Google actually builds its own data centers from scratch, so we’re able to have one of the lowest cost-per-server infrastructures in the world; which means that those savings are passed on to our Google Apps customers. Your business is able to offload the infrastructure costs and the effort it takes to maintain an on-premises solution, and focus those savings on more strategic IT initiatives.
And since Google Apps is web-based, your employees can be productive from anywhere, whether they’re at their own desk, using a different computer, or on the go with a mobile device.
What Google Apps Are Offered?
Here is a list of Google Apps that you may (or may not) find useful in your business.
- Gmail – Touting 100 milion+ users, Gmail is a great option for email
Benefits – Offers email and chat with contacts also on gmail, large storage size (7GB+ on publish date), good spam filter, automatically saves drafts of emails every minute
Competition – Yahoo! mail, Hotmail, AOL mail, your ISP mail, company mail
- Google Docs – Online word processor, spreadsheets, and presentations
Benefits – You can upload files, email files, or create files within Google Docs, can be saved in multiple formats, automatically saved to prevent data loss, revision history is saved, can be edited by multiple users simultaneously
Competition – Microsoft Live, iWork, Zoho Office, OpenOffice, OpenGoo, ShareOffice, ThinkFree Office
- Google Calendar – AJAX driven (sexy) calendar web app
Benefits – Access to calendar anywhere, can share calendar with others, set up email reminders, drag and drop events, comment on other people’s events, offline access
Competition – Microsoft Outlook, iCal, 30boxes, Zoho Planner
- Google Talk – Instant messaging and VOIP client
Benefits – Integrated with Gmail, voice and video chat (also available between Google Talk and Gmail users on select OS’es), voicemail and file-sharing
Competition – Skype, MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger
Advantages of Google Apps
- Accessible everywhere – No longer will you be tied down to a particular computer. Any computer that has the internet can access your documents.
- Doesn’t require installation – If you frequently bounce between different computers, you may soon grow tired of installing the same applications over and over on each computer. Since these apps are online, all you need is a web browser.
- Collaboration – If two people want to work on the same document, traditionally they have to email it back and forth. After 10 rounds of back and forth, they may have a finished product. Google Apps allow people to edit the documents simultaneously and save changes as different revisions.
- Cost savings – Some software can get quite expensive. Microsoft Office Professional can cost as much as $500. Open Office is free and can read and save documents as a Word document. Google Docs can do that, too, while giving you the other benefits listed above.
- More options with paid version – If you want more users to collaborate on the documents, or need more space or other options, Google offers paid upgrades. The service is scalable to your needs, in other words.