Can you replace Microsoft Exchange with Google Apps Premier?

An admin makes the switch to see how it really works -- with mixed results

The come-on is enticing: Replace that expensive, high-maintenance [Microsoft Exchange] platform -- and maybe some of your other Microsoft software -- with Google's Apps Premier service for a low, low price of $50 per user per year.

Google will host your email, calendars, documents, and more in their cloud. You can get at everything through a Web browser using the well-regarded Gmail interface, and you may be able to keep using your own client software, even Outlook. Google promises 99.9 percent uptime, and its support includes telephone access to real people. SSL encryption is required to be on, and Google uses the services of its Postini unit to provide malware protection. [Google Apps] Premier also supports shared contact lists and more sophisticated contact migration, such as LDAP synchronization.

[ The InfoWorld Test Center reveals [whether Microsoft's Office for Web apps has what it takes]. | Discover J. Peter Bruzzese's [8 key tips for moving to Exchange 2010]. ]

Sounds good, but can Google Apps Premier really deliver on what businesses need?

Whatever you're paying for Exchange and other Microsoft servers, I guarantee it's more than what Google Apps Premier costs, but that's not the only issue. A major platform change is disruptive, and you may have come to rely on Exchange features that either have no equivalent in Google Apps or will require some conversion work.

This was the quandary I faced for my own small business and personal domain. Only a few people use it, but we all love Outlook and the power we get from our hosted Exchange server at AppRiver. Although I'm very happy with AppRiver and I'm paying a fair price, I need to save some money -- just like a lot of larger companies.

So I gave it a shot. Here's what I found and what you need to know before you make your decision.

Mobile support is equivalent

Google has a plug-in for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, but it doesn't run [BlackBerry Enterprise Server]. You'll need to run BES yourself or find a provider that will host it with the plug-in.

Google does offer Microsoft ActiveSync support, which [iPhones, Palm Pres, Windows Mobile, and some Android smartphones use] to enforce security and access policies. It worked well on my Droid device.

When it comes to mobile, you won't save any effort with Google Apps, though you get the same capabilities as you would with Exchange -- including the burden of dealing with BES yourself.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoft exchangeGoogle Apps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lachlan Wilson

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?