Google Apps vs. Office 365

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Why should you chose Google Apps over Microsoft Office 365? There are many reasons why companies chose Google Apps, including: better teamwork, improved productivity, greater mobile access, and exceptional return on investment. In fact, more than five million businesses use Google Apps today.

It is not only small businesses that are moving to the cloud, but companies as large as 200,000 employees. A recent Gartner survey predicted that Google will be a serious contender in enterprise collaboration and communication market.

Here we have tried to provide an objective comparison of Google Apps vs. Office 365 as viewed from different angles such as security, privacy, mobility, or price. See for yourself by exploring the sections below.

True Cloud Flexibility

Google Apps offers ultimate cloud flexibility with a 100% web model.


Google Apps for Business
Microsoft Office 365
With only a standard web browser you get full functionality of Google Apps. No installation of client software and patching and maintenance to worry about. Source: Google Apps System RequirementsWhile Microsoft does enable web-based access to its software, it is intended for occasional use. In order to derive full value from Office 365 you need to install and manage MS Office on desktop computers.  Source: Office 365 System Requirements
With Google Apps, you are always on the same version of the software, the latest version. Google also offers the ability to schedule releases in order to help manage user expectations. Google schedules small incremental updates that do not disrupt the major functionality of the product and reduce the need for user training.Office 365 is based on the latest version of MS Office. Based on Microsoft's track record, a new version of MS office is available once every two or three years, with examples being Office 2007, Office 2010 and Office 2012. According to Microsoft Technet, it takes organizations 12-18 months to deploy a new version of Office.
Google Apps was designed with third-party integration in mind. Currently there are hundreds of applications available on the Google Apps Marketplace - many of them free - with functionality like ERP and CRM. The Google Apps Marketplace allows administrators to directly purchase and provision application. Check out the Google Apps Marketplace.The Office 365 Marketplace is a search tool. It is great for finding Microsoft partners and Office 365 applications, but it doesn't offer a consolidated purchasing/provisioning system.  Many applications must be downloaded and installed each with their own installation instructions and processes. Here's a link to the Office 365 Marketplace.

Security and Privacy You Can Count On

Below, we compare some of the security benefits of Google Apps with those of Office 365.


Google Apps for Business
Microsoft Office 365
As a 100% cloud-based solution, Google Apps has a security model that eliminates the "patching nightmare" that many IT administrators are used to. If a security issue is discovered on Google's products, the update can be scheduled transparently to the user. Due to Google's inherent 100% cloud-based design, no downtime is required to update patches.Microsoft relies on installed software for the full functionality of their solution. To deploy a patch, the IT team must test it first, then possibly schedule downtime. Due to downtime windows, many companies take weeks to deploy even the most urgent patches, creating a period of heightened threat in the meantime.
Google as a company has a strong track-record for building secure software. For instance, in 2012 there were no security alerts issued for the Google Apps product, marking the fourth year in a row.A search through the National Vulnerability Database brings up hundreds of vulnerabilities for different products such as Microsoft Office, Sharepoint, Exchange, and other Office 365 products.
Google supports 2-factor authentication (2FA) for its web-based products. Two-factor authentication is a very important security feature that is included by default in Google Apps. For true assurance, businesses have the ability to enforce 2FA, ensuring that all of their users use strong authentication.2FA is an additional feature requiring the purchase of ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services), which comes with additional technical complexity and cost. 2FA is not supported for desktop (rich) clients, unless the client machine is joined to domain. Additionally 2FA is not supported in certain scenarios.
Google Apps supports immutable admin audit logs. Any change made in the admin audit console is logged. Logs are available through the Google's APIs. In addition to Admin Console logs, Google also has the capability to store Google Docs events (such as read/write for each document). Linkgard features products that integrate Google Apps audit logs into leading SIEM solutions.Office365 has a capability to log audit events in an Office 365 mailbox but this option is not enabled by default. In addition to this, it is possible to destroy the audit logs as long as the user has sufficient privileges, making it possible for an attacker to cover their tracks by simply deleting the events.

Google as a company fights for the privacy of your data proactively. It has been known to take governments to court in order to resist subpoenas. In 2012, the Electronic Frontier Foundation ranked Google as one of the top companies that “has your back”. Here are the marks:

Google Apps vs. Office 365 - Privacy

SOURCE: Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 2012.

A genuine and verifiable availability guarantee


Google Apps for Business
Microsoft Office 365
In 2011, Gmail's availability was 99.99%. In 2012, Gmail's availability was 99.983%.Microsoft does not provide public reporting of its uptime history.
In addition, Google has an Apps Status Dashboard that allows customers to view the current or recent status with Google Apps.Microsoft does not provide public details of the current status of Office 365. You have to be a customer in order to gain access to Microsoft's post-incident reports.
The SLA from Google doesn't foresee planned downtime as the product was built to be always available and updates happen seamlessly.Microsoft's SLA varies from product to product and has provisions for planned outage and scheduled updates.

Superior Collaboration

Collaborate in real-time. No version conflicts or compatibility issues!


Google Apps for Business
Microsoft Office 365
Inherently every user is able to access the same great collaboration features and you get the same behavior whether you're in a spreadsheet, document, or a presentation. Everyone is utilizing the same version of the application, the latest one!Co-authoring in Office 365 varies between products. Each one has differing system requirements. Documents created using different versions of the same product may cause sharing and compatibility problems. In order to share a document in Office 365 you must save it to "Sky Drive".
Teamwork is the core design concept for Google Apps. Through only two clicks you can share anything, including a site, page, a document, a spreadsheet, or presentation without even leaving your current screen.Sharing in Office 365 can be difficult to use. When you click on Share, a new tab is created and the user must afterwards locate the original tab where they were working. Shared documents are initially opened in "read-only" mode, even if you have editing rights.
Google allows multiple users to collaborate with each other freely, even to the point of editing the same word or sentence together. Simply provide your colleagues' email addresses and within seconds have them securely viewing and editing your document.This is the power of Google's collaboration. Multiple people can edit the document at the same time and all changes are replicated to all users in near real time.In Word app, your colleagues will not be able to edit the same paragraph with you. You can see a collaborator's work only after they hit the "save" button. Furthermore you have to hit "refresh" on your side to see your colleague's changes. Co-editing is not possible in Excel if one user is using the desktop version. For presentations, Microsoft recommends that collaborators either stick with the rich client or web app, but not mix both. http://bit.ly/Z5uod5
In Google Docs, items shared with you are always available from your Google Drive interface under "Shared with me". Furthermore, you can make this document appear in your own drive as well.In Office 365 you have to actually "follow" a document (an extra manual step) in order to have easy access to a document. If you don't follow, then you are limited to going through your email and finding the sharing link.
In Google Apps, users are able to simultaneously chat and check email or collaborate on a document.In Office 365, if you want to chat while co-editing a document, then you must open the desktop version of Lync communicator. http://bit.ly/Z5uod5

Productive Anywhere


Google Apps has popular native mobile apps for Android & iPhone/iPad. In addition, Google Apps is available through any web-enabled device, whether a smartphone or a tablet.


Google Apps for Business
Microsoft Office 365
Google Apps has rich and feature-full mobile apps. Google develops apps for IOS and Android, two of the major smart phones and tablets. User interfaces for phones and tablets are designed separately, making full use of each device's strengths. For other mobile platforms, Google Apps has a mobile version of its web interface.Office 365 users were for a long time limited to only Windows mobile devices. Support for Android tablets is incomplete with tablet users being forced to use the same interface as phone users. The Lync app for IOS is limited to basic text and does not provide the a complete user experience.
Mobile device management (MDM) is built-in to Google Apps and included for the same affordable price.Office 365 offers only ActiveSync Mobile Device Management via Exchange Online.

Easy To Use, Yet Affordable

Google Apps is easy to use and administer. The pricing model of $50/user/year is easy to understand and remember. Organizations are enjoying tremendous ROI and break even periods with Google Apps.


Google Apps for Business
Microsoft Office 365
The price of Google Apps is $50/user/year, that is all there is to it.Confusing is just one adjective that is consistently used to describe Microsoft's pricing model.
Google Apps has the same superior features at a simple price, including access to highly popular mobiles apps, file sharing (using Google Drive), web conferencing (using Google Hangouts), and free websites including a public website (using Google Sites).The "lowest" plan for Office 365 doesn't have these features. If you want all of the mentioned features, you need to upgrade to the highest plan, which bundles software that you may not need (such as desktop versions of the software).
Organizations that decide to use Google Apps, love it! A renewal rate of more than 90% is a testament to this. Yet, if you do decide to move away from Google, you can rest assured that you are able to export your data from Google in multiple different formats that are open. (See Data Liberation)Microsoft's data portability support varies from product to product and may not always be at the end-user's discretion.


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