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 Ten Ways Microsoft Exchange Online is Better for Business Communication than Google Apps

Microsoft, as part of its mission to improve business productivity, has been providing business communication products for more than 15 years. From Microsoft Exchange Server 4.0 with Exchange Client to Exchange Server 2010 with the Microsoft Outlook 2010 messaging and collaboration client, Microsoft has proven its commitment to enterprise-level communication tools. In 2005, Microsoft anticipated the need to provide hosted communication tools as well. Since then, it has provided the power of cloud-based services to businesses everywhere, which will continue with the Office 365 suite which includes Exchange Online. 

In 2006, Google decided to bundle Google Mail (Gmail) and other consumer online services as Google Apps for Your Domain, targeted at businesses. It launched the first Premier Edition in 2007. In 2009, the company upgraded Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Talk from beta status, and in 2010, it launched Google Apps for Government. Google continues to make improvements to its products to address consumer and enterprise communication, collaboration, advertising, and entertainment needs at low cost.

While Google has aggregated an all-in-one offering in this short period of time, here are 10 areas where Microsoft Exchange Online continues to provide a superior business communications experience: 

  1. Security by design and security by default. Since releasing Exchange 2000 Server SP3, Exchange has been following the Security Development Lifecycle process to reduce vulnerabilities in the product. In addition to certifications, including Common Criteria EAL4+ (Exchange Server 2003 SP3 and Exchange Server 2007 SP2), Exchange has proven that it can serve in a real-world secured messaging environment[1]. Gmail has obtained Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) certification for some subset of Google Apps Editions, and it is working diligently toward addressing customers’ remaining security concerns, such as those of the Los Angeles Police Department.
  2. Business innovation, not consumer experimentation. In the period of time between Exchange Server 2010 RTM and Exchange Server 2010 SP1, the number of features introduced in Exchange and Gmail was approximately the same. But does the number really reflect the innovative value for your business? Through Exchange Online, Microsoft introduced features that work the way your business needs to, like archiving in the cloud and extending the web-based management capabilities of Exchange Control Panel. Google Apps introduced features like Google Wave and YouTube Previews.
  3. Real-world reliability. Not only does Exchange Online offer a financially backed 99.9 percent uptime SLA, but Bank of America has achieved 99.999 percent uptime with their Exchange Server deployment. Whether it’s online or on-premises, Exchange Server offers real-world reliability and doesn’t need to exclude outages for 5 percent of users to do it. 
  4. Downtime

    SLA Comparison

    Microsoft Online Services

    Google Apps

    Any non-scheduled Downtime

    Downtime for >5% of users

    Monthly Uptime Percentage

    Service Credit
    (dollars credited)

    Monthly Uptime Percentage

    Service Credit
    (days added to contract)

    <99.9%

    25%

    <99.9% to 99.0%

    3 (10%)

    <99%

    50%

    <99.0% to 95.0%

    7 (23%)

    <95%

    100%

    <95.0%

    15 (50%

  5. Anywhere access, including offline. With Microsoft Outlook and Exchange ActiveSync technology, you can access your email virtually anywhere, whether you have a network connection or not with offline access. This includes email, calendar, tasks, meeting invitations, address books, and more. Google provides Google Apps Sync for Outlook and Gmail offline (less than 5,000 messages worth) through the deprecated functionality of Gears, while insisting that an always-on Internet world exists.
    What good does a 25-gigabyte mailbox do when you can only access 5,000 messages of it offline?
  6. Privacy and control of your data. Exchange Online adheres to Microsoft’s privacy guidelines, which were created specifically to give customers control of their information. Google Apps adheres to Google’s privacy policy, shared across business and consumer applications, which allows for Google to use customer information to improve advertising and other services in some instances.
    Google Apps and Google Apps for Business include contextual advertising functionality in some instances, just like free consumer Gmail.
  7. 24/7 support. Exchange Online provides a community forum, email, and phone support whenever your business needs it—24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7). Google Apps has 24/7 phone support only for system critical events that affect more than 50 percent of users.
    The Microsoft Office 365 Community provides peer-to-peer and moderated support, in addition to email and phone support options.
  8. Upgrades on your schedule. Exchange Online allows 12 months for transition, while Google Apps allows just one week for your business to validate whether the updates work in your business environment and against your line of business applications.
  9. Easy to use. A small-business customer referred to Office 2010 as “by far the most intuitive, user-friendly productivity suite we have used,” and Outlook and Outlook Web App provide a similar experience in a rich client and in a browser. By contrast, Gmail provides an interface that causes some people to question whether it was usability tested on civilians
  10. Integrated email, tasks, contacts, calendar, and presence experience. Exchange Online provides a comprehensive communications experience, with rich presence information even in Outlook Web App. Some basic functionality is missing from Google Apps, and other basic functionality is still in beta and lacks integration. 
    Outlook provides an integrated experience that enables smooth, rich communication.
  11. Easy administration and deployment. Exchange Online provides the same unparalleled level of control for administrators, through role-based access control, management tools, and rich coexistence. Google provides little administrative granularity and advocates a big bang migration.
    Google Apps: Administrator privileges - check!
    Role-based access control through Exchange Online allows you to be as granular as your business needs, with 33 different roles that can be combined into role groups.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of the most trusted Microsoft communications and collaboration products with the latest version of the Microsoft Office desktop suite for businesses of all sizes:

  • Microsoft Office: The world’s leading productivity tool on the desktop (Office Professional Plus) now designed for the Web (Office Web Apps), seamlessly connected and delivered with cloud services—for a comprehensive productivity experience across the PC, phone, and browser.  Premium products include installation of the Office 2013 professional suite on up to 5 devices pre mailbox!
  • Microsoft Exchange Online: Cloud-based email, calendar, and contacts with the most current antivirus solutions to help protect from malicious software and spam.
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online: Cloud-based service for creating sites to connect colleagues, partners, and customers. Includes enterprise social networking and customization options. 10GB plus 500mb/user
  • Microsoft Lync Online: Cloud-based instant messaging, presence, and online meeting experiences with screen sharing, voice conferencing, and video conferencing.
  •  Microsoft Skydrive 7GB of private or shared storage per mailbox

Extra Software that Gmail Requires

To provide Gmail with the same functionality that you can find at no additional cost in Microsoft Exchange Server with Outlook, you’ll need these extra applications and browser add-ons and plug-ins:

  • Google Apps Sync for Outlook to run Outlook on Google Apps instead of on Microsoft Exchange

  • Exchange to Google Apps Migrator for bulk migration of email messages from Exchange to Gmail

  • DirSync or another application to synchronize the Gmail directory with the Active Directory service

  • MyOneLogin or a similar identity service to provide single sign on to Active Directory

  • Postini to provide security and 10 years of email retention for Gmail

  • Google Chrome to use the latest features in HTML version 5

  • Gmail Labs access (without IT oversight) to use “experimental” Gmail features

In addition, to provide some of the same functionality that you’ll find in Microsoft Office 365 Premium, you’ll need these applications and plug-ins:

  • Google Talk to provide instant-messaging services
  • Dimdim or a similar third-party web-conferencing service
  • Google Video and Voice Plug-In to enable web conferencing
  • Microsoft Publisher equivalent like Adobe Acrobat
  • MS Access Database software equivalent
  • Document versioning
  • Offline versions of all apps, with additional capabilities and tight integration with cloud libraries

[1] This includes but is not limited to Boeing, European Defence Agency, Israeli Navy and Ministry of Finance, Algerian National Police, United States Army, Executive Council of Dubai, National Institutes of Health, Audit Bureau Qatar, and Colombian National Police.