Business Software

Can You Really Replace Microsoft Exchange with Google Apps Premier?

Google Apps doesn't play with other Google apps
I was surprised to discover that you cannot use your Google Apps login to access Google services not provided in Google Apps, such as Google Reader. The work-around -- to use a regular Google account to access those services -- is not at all satisfying, because you can't log in to more than one Google account at a time in the browser. You realistically have to use one browser for Google Apps and another for other Google services. (Google says it will fix this issue later this year.)

Your compliance needs may or may not be met
As with any hosted service, you may be concerned about the fact that you no longer directly manage potentially sensitive data. Google Apps Premier's Terms of Service agreement (section 1.2) essentially says that Google will guard your data with the same measures and vigilance with which it guards its own. I find this reassuring.

But you or your lawyers may have a problem with the terms' statement: "Google may store and process customer data in the United States or any other country in which Google or its agents maintain facilities." Welcome to the cloud.

Google Apps Premier can replace Exchange, but it's no given
There's no way around the fact that by migrating from a mature, stable, and well-understood platform like Outlook and Exchange to an evolving newbie like Google Apps, you're a pioneer. You may discover gold in California or ruination in Death Valley based on your combination of needed capabilities, users' adaptability, compliance requirements, and degree of cost savings needed to justify the disruption.

It'll work for me, but I have a really small office. But don't forget if you're tired of managing Exchange yourself, you have the option of hosted Exchange. It will cost more than Google Premier Apps, but it also will maintain familiarity and be less disruptive.

This article, "Can you really replace Microsoft Exchange with Google Apps Premier?," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Get the latest insights on Windows Server and Microsoft Exchange in J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog. Follow the latest developments in business applications and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

Read more about applications in InfoWorld's Applications Channel.

Larry Seltzer is an independent analyst focusing on security issues and a founder of OpenGov Solutions.

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