Posts Tagged 'Google Apps'

Top 11 Reasons I Prefer Office 365 Over Google Apps

Warning: This post is subjective and highly opinionated!

I will admit to having a Microsoft bias as that is the technology I tend to use most often. That said I think all of the following are valid. I welcome comments and discussion.

11. Office 365 works seamlessly with the Office 2010 software installed on my desktop. Google Apps has no desktop version.

10. There are more subscription options available for Office 365 than Google Apps. I can choose the right subscription for my staff ranging from high-powered knowledge workers and development teams right through to clerical workers.

9. As a systems administrator I believe I have more control over Office 365 than I do with Google Apps.

8. Office 365 Exchange Online has a robust set of features for archiving, compliance, discovery and policy management.

7. If I already have Active Directory on premises I can configure Office 365 for single sign on.

6. Office 365 gives me the ability to synchronize my on premises Active Directory objects to the cloud. This allows me to continue to maintain user and group profiles exactly as I currently do.

5. Office 365 subscriptions can include SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online gives me and my team a common workspace to share documents and to otherwise collaborate.

4. Office 365 subscriptions can include Lync Online. Lync Online’s Integrated Presence feature allows me to see which of my contacts are online right from within my Office applications. With one click I can send email, IM or start a voice/video session with a document’s author from right within that document.

3. There are clearly defined migration paths from my current on-premises email solution to Office 365 and Exchange Online. I can choose to migrate some or all of my users all at once or over time.

2. Office 365 gives me the ability to continue to transparently co-exist with my on-premises solution indefinitely. I can continue to have some users on premises and some users in the cloud for as long as I want.

And last, but not least:

1. I already know Microsoft Office products. The transition to Office 365 is easy and I am comfortable with the interface.

To learn more about Office 365 and how it can be used in your organization consider attending Learning Tree’s new course entitled Deploying Microsoft Office 365.

Kevin Kell

Windows Live vs. Google Apps: Part 2 – Google Apps

In the first part of this article I reviewed some of the main features of Microsoft Windows Live.  I wrote that article using the Microsoft Word Web app on my Mac.  Now, I want to review some of the main features of Google Apps.  This time, I’ll use Google Docs on my PC.

Google Apps

Google Apps consists of many different online applications that make up a complete computing platform.  Gmail is the most widely known, but there are also Google Docs, Calendar, Sites, Reader, and many more applications.  There is in fact a Google Apps Marketplace where third-party vendors offer applications that are built on top of Google’s platform.  You might like to explore this link: http://www.google.com/enterprise/marketplace/.  Below is a screenshot of the Marketplace.  It is like the iPhone App store, but for the Google cloud.

Google Marketplace

Google Docs

Google Docs allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, survey forms and drawings.  Writing a document using Google Docs is easy.  It has all the formatting tools you would expect.  It automatically saves your work.  Adding images, hyperlinks, tables, lists etc all work just as you’d expect.

Google uses their own file formats, but you can convert documents from Microsoft Office formats if you need to.  You can also share documents easily if you are collaborating with your team.

My concern with moving to Google Docs would be whether it would work for users all the time.  I did a little testing with some things I commonly use.  For example, I tried converting the Excel spreadsheet I use to submit invoices to Learning Tree to Google docs format.  It did work, but the formatting was a bit off.  I also opened the Learning Tree exercise manual template in Google Docs, and that did not work at all.  To be fair, it is a very complex template and I would have been shocked if worked.

As general purpose word processor and spreadsheet builder, Google Docs is great.  I would only worry that I’d end up buying Microsoft Office for everyone anyway.

Gmail

For me the great thing about Gmail is how easy it is to integrate into your domain.  Why anyone would want to run a mail server is beyond me when Google and many others are willing to manage mail for next to nothing.

In addition, Google makes it simple to integrate your domain into all their applications.  Not only can you have email addresses like youname@yoursite.com, you can map Google Docs to docs.yoursite.com and Google Sites to sites.yoursite.com and so on.

Google Sites

One of the big features of Microsoft SharePoint is the ability to create Web sites for projects, teams and collaboration.  Google Sites allows you to do the same.  There are built-in templates for making this easy.  You can control who has access to you sites.  It integrates into Google Docs and the other Google Apps.  Check it out at http://sites.google.com.

Summary

In summary, I really like Google Apps and I also like Microsoft Windows Live.  Both are affordable, and make computing easier, more accessible and add great new features.  You should do your own analysis on which would work better for you and your organization.  The competition between the two will certainly benefit us all.

If you want to learn more about cloud computing, come to one of Learning Tree’s cloud computing courses.  We cover not only Google Apps and Windows Live, but also Amazon EC2, Google App Engine, Microsoft Windows Azure and more.

Doug Rehnstrom

As cloud computing continues to make information technology headlines, vendors are aggressively promoting the many benefits it can provide organizations.  Our White Paper, Cloud Computing Promises: Fact of Fiction, addresses the claims and questions that are often raised in relation to cloud computing and provides a clear view of what the cloud can—and can’t—deliver in reality.

Google Wins Injunction in Cloud Computing Battle with Microsoft

Yesterday, Google won a preliminary injunction preventing the U.S Department of the Interior from procuring a Microsoft-only Cloud Computing contract. The lawsuit was filed by Google and a reseller of its products after the agency solicited bids for cloud-based email and messaging services and specifying that bidders must use Microsoft products. Google claimed that the requirement was “unduly restrictive of competition”.

Part of the reason the injunction was granted, was that the agency, in selecting Microsoft as its standard, failed to include any estimate of internal agency cost of other/alternative options. In addition, the agency failed to list any potential alternatives despite having had demonstrations from Google on its productivity suite. Part of Google’s complaint also was that the contract specified that products used must comply with the security requirements in the U.S. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Google’s Apps for Government is FISMA-certified, whilst Microsoft’s products were not at the time of the Google lawsuit. Microsoft now has FISMA certification.

The reason I decided to post on the above lawsuit is that it highlights an important point for any organization wishing to adopt the cloud. Before a solution can be procured, a sound, thorough business case must be built. Building a sound business case requires an understanding of the technology, the advantages, the risks, the standards as well as a clear awareness of the costs both hidden and transparent. These then need to be considered against alternatives to the cloud. Finally, potential products from different vendors also need to be considered and these are often not like for like. This is no easy task and requires a good understanding of cloud computing and its business implications.

It is these skills that Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course provides attendees with. The course provides a hands-on, vendor independent exposure to products from a number of major vendors and evaluates them from a business and technical perspective. How to build a balanced business case that highlights the risks, advantages, alternatives is also covered. Why not consider attending, it may change the you you view IT !

Chris

Windows Live vs. Google Apps: Part 1 – Windows Live

Chris Czarnecki’s article, Microsoft and Google Compete in the Cloud, inspired me to write this blog as I have been researching Google Apps and Windows Live for a while now and using bits and pieces of each.

I’m going to write this article in two parts.  In the first, I’ll review the features of Microsoft Windows Live and in the second I’ll describe the features of Google Apps.  As a test, I’ll use the Microsoft Word Web App using the Safari browser on my Mac to write the first part.  I’ll write the second, using Google Docs from my PC using Internet Explorer 9.

Windows Live

The Windows Live home screen appears as shown below.  You can create an account for free, or use your existing Hotmail or MSN account.

Windows Live Home Page

Windows Live Home Page

SkyDrive for Cloud Storage

From the Windows Live menu, you can select SkyDrive.  This will open a view of all the files you have in the Windows Live cloud.  You can synchronize local computers with the SkyDrive.  This uses a program called Windows Live Mesh that can be installed on your PC or Mac.  Files can be kept private, but also shared with friends or colleagues.  With SkyDrive you get 25Gb of storage for free.  The UI is shown below.

SkyDrive Screen

SkyDrive Screen

Office Live

If you click on the Office menu, you get  a screen as shown below.  Notice, it allows you to browse the files in your SkyDrive and also create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes using the online versions of the Office programs.  The big question is, do these programs work well?  I did a bit of testing to help answer that.

Office Live Screen

Office Live Screen

Word Web App

Writing this document in Word, was pretty painless.  I know the document is not complex, still creating and saving it was smooth, adding the images was simple, and all the features I used (spell checker, hyperlinks, styles, fonts, etc.) worked fine.  I could have easily downloaded and edited the document using my full version of Word.  There were a couple quirks, like Shift+Enter didn’t work for inserting a line break.  There is also no zoom-in feature.

One important note, save your work often!  I had a glitch that caused me to lose some edits.  This would not have happened with auto-save on using the desktop versions of Word.

A screen shot is show below.

Word For Web App

Word For Web App

Excel Web App

To test Excel I uploaded a spreadsheet that I use to submit invoices to Learning Tree.  Initially, I got an error message complaining about unsupported features (apparently, there are a lot of those) and I was forced to re-save the spreadsheet before I could edit it.  Afterward, it seemed to work fine though.  The missing feature this time was zoom-out, as I couldn’t view the entire spreadsheet at once.  I could use this version of Excel without much trouble.

PowerPoint Web App

To test PowerPoint I uploaded one of my Learning Tree courses.  Other than it being a little slower switching between slides, both editing and viewing the presentation was just like the full version of PowerPoint.  I’ll definitely upload all my courses to SkyDrive.  Imagine how efficient it would be to find a typo in a slide during a class and fix it immediately from any computer.  A screen shot is below.

PowerPoint Web App

PowerPoint Web App

Summary

If you are using Office already and want to take advantage of the cloud for storage, backups, file sharing and online document creation, definitely explore Windows Live.  It’s free and there are quite a few other features beyond to scope of this article.

If you want to learn more about cloud computing, come to one of Learning Tree’s cloud computing courses.

Doug Rehnstrom

As cloud computing continues to make information technology headlines, vendors are aggressively promoting the many benefits it can provide organizations.  Our White Paper, Cloud Computing Promises: Fact of Fiction, addresses the claims and questions that are often raised in relation to cloud computing and provides a clear view of what the cloud can—and can’t—deliver in reality.

Microsoft and Google Compete in the Cloud

A couple of days ago, the General Services Administration announced that it had made the decision to replace its Lotus notes and Domino software with Google for its email. This decision prompted a response from Microsoft saying that they were disappointed not to be able to provide a solution and how much better they could have been than Google. This decision and response from Microsoft brings to light a scenario that is going to be played out time and again over the coming years as organisations and companies migrate to the cloud. Some organisations adopting Microsoft others Google.

Microsoft and Google are now providing Cloud Computing solutions in many overlapping areas. If we consider these using the service delivery structure, in the area of Software as a Service (SaaS) both offer productivity tools. Google through Google Apps and Microsoft through the Office365, which offers the Office productivity suite, Sharepoint, Exchange and Lync online. These solutions from both companies compete head-on in feature set, functionality and mode of operation.

At the next level, Platform as a Service (PaaS), Google offer the Google App Engine for Java and Python application development and hosting. Microsoft’s offering is Azure, which provides solutions for .NET developers as well as for PHP developers. As part of the platform, Microsoft offer SQL Azure, a cloud based relation database service. At this level, the solutions of the companies whilst offering similar functionality do not compete directly with each other.

At the lowest level, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Google have no offering whilst Microsoft have recently announced the VM role which will allow users to create their own virtual machine images and host them in the cloud, build their own virtual private clouds on the Azure infrastructure and so provide IaaS.

Summarising the competition between Microsoft and Google for Cloud Computing services, the head-on competition is clearly at the SaaS level where they have competing products. In the other areas there is no direct, or at least like-for-like competition due to the structure of their products.

What is difficult for Cloud consumers is that the competition between these two giants is very public and does not focus on the primary factors of effectiveness of solutions, feature sets, cost, security, reliability they provide for customers. This means that any organisation considering the cloud, trying to make some sense of all the hype, marketing and publicity and establish how the solutions offered can help their organisations is incredibly difficult. This is before we add Amazon, IBM, Oracle etc to the discussion. This is the reason Learning Tree have developed their Cloud Computing Course that provides attendees with a framework of what cloud computing is and how the products from the major vendors fit into this framework. The course provides hands-on experience of the tools and builds the skills required to establish what is the most suitable Cloud Computing solution for your organisation. Why not attend and find out how the Cloud and in particular which services could benefit your organisation.

Chris

Microsoft Office Web Apps – Changing the Way We Work

With the imminent launch of Microsoft Office 2010, one of the most eagerly awaited features is Office Web Apps. Office Web Apps enables accessing the Microsoft productivity tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint via a browser with the documents stored in a Windows Live account or maybe an organizations corporate SharePoint server.

On the surface, it appears that Office Web Apps compete directly with other productivity applications such as Google Apps or Adobe Buzzword. However, as highlighted in a recent article on Information Week, while these products appear to be competing head-on, the business models of the organizations behind them have driven very different product feature offerings. With Google, the App suite is given away for free, with Google earning revenues from advertising. Microsoft on the other hand has always generated revenue from selling software licenses.

So how have these two very different underlying business models affected the feature set of what appear to be very similar product offerings ?
Microsoft will make Office Web Apps available for free to consumers and will stream advertising in a similar manner to the way Google does with Google Apps. For business users, there will be a license fee to pay, but they will have the choice of hosting the apps themselves via SharePoint 2010 or via Microsoft online services. An additional benefit an organization hosting Office Web Apps through SharePoint is that it enables Mobile device access. A major impact of Office Web Apps will be the way users collaborate. Traditionally documents for sharing have been sent as email attachments. With Office Web Apps, documents can be placed on Microsoft Live or on a corporations SharePoint server and a link sent to collaborators who can view or modify the document based on document owner selected preferences. With the ability to work on documents via a browser, locally on a machine with no Internet connectivity or via a mobile device – the options are certainly attractive.

In summary, we are seeing an evolution of the way productivity tools are being offered to users. Organizations with very different underlying business models are competing on feature sets and price to attract users. The end result is users are being offered ever more powerful software, with new modes of working and sharing at an ever increasingly attractive price. If you would like to find out more about these productivity applications and the cloud in general why not try out our new Cloud Computing course.

Chris


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