Google Apps is one of the topics you here about every now and then. Open up a tech magazine and you see it in there somewhere, read your favorite blog, which most likely has Google AdSense on it to help generate revenue has Google Apps as an add and honestly; I don’t think this product suite has gotten the attention from the tech community that it deserves. Let’s just take Google out of this one for a minute. Picture that you are a small business owner, have a failing email server, are running on an old version of Microsoft Office that has a really annoying error every time you try to save, you have rigorous practices to attempt to backup all of your data including your email and documents and then comes a shiny new product suite that fit’s your bill quite nicely. The ability to offload all of my email server problems to Google which by the way syncs your email across multiple servers for redundancy (you don’t see that in any mom and pop shops), your Office Suite can be replaced by Goggle Doc’s and spreadsheets which is actually three applications, a word process or much like Microsoft Word or Open Office.org Writer, a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel or Open Office’s calc; and a presentation software which is a replacement for Microsoft PowerPoint or Open Office’s Impress. Did I mention that this is all free? You get 2Gb of online email storage; an office suite; collaboration software (Chat / Multi User Google Docs), a standards based calendering system which you can import and export to and from other applications, a free web editor (though not very intuitive), and the best part of all, it’s free. One limit however is, I do have to say that the bigger screen the better on these app’s though. Because you do your document work inside a web browser; the bookmarks; buttons; and URL bar are kind of just taking up extra space which reduces the space in which you view the document.
There are 3 different versions of Google Apps available. Standard, premium, and Education. The first one, standard, is the one that I use. It is limited to 2Gb of email storage space, does not have some API’s that you can write against for single sign on; authentication and other policy and management goo. It also lacks a little bit of support that the other two get. But it is free. The premium edition has 25Gb of storage space and cost’s $50 per user per year. Which, is actually pretty cheap if you ask me. Other than that, the premier and education versions are the same. Some institutions actually have upwards of 65,000 users on Google App’s. I’m just in awe of that.
Another feature that I forgot to mention is the tie in for Blackberry and Trio Smart Phone support. Through a mobile application that needs to be installed on either the Blackberry or Trio phones, you can easily connect to, read and write emails, check your calendar, and chat with users on Google Talk. For just web capable phones, there’s the Google Apps mobile page which is http://m.google.com/a . From there, you can check your email, write a quick one, chat and view your calendar. I hope you all take a few minutes to look at the video’s that I have mentioned above that explain all the cool stuff that Google Apps offeres, and possibly try it out on a domain of your own. It is amazingly easy to setup and maintain. If you are too lazy to click on the links above, here is the short and sweet version of the Google App’s presentation.