I remember that it was only around 5 years ago that the idea of having your business hosted in the cloud was too expensive for most businesses to even consider. Gmail was in its infancy and Office 365 was not born and the providers that did offer Exchange hosting in the cloud were expensive. On paper it still made sense if you had more than 5 users it was more cost effective to have a server. Windows Small Business Server covered this brilliantly for small businesses and was our core product for nearly 6 years.
When Microsoft announced the retirement of SBS last year I thought this was a crazy idea but as time has gone on Office 365 has replaced the product brilliantly. Not everyone likes the subscription model and as you add mailboxes you can feel that it is getting expensive but when you consider you do not have to think about spam, email viruses and the costs of running a mail server it isn’t that bad.
So with many deployments of Office 365 under our belt I have to say that it is not without its caveats but generally any company that works in the Microsoft Ecosystem will seamlessly migrate to 365. File management and Local security can remain on premise and Windows Server Essentials with its 25 users included covers this perfectly.
So what about Google Docs?
I have a bit of love hate relationship with Google Products but I do feel that Google Docs is perfectly capable. I think the decision is really down to personal preference and whether you have been previously using Microsoft Office and Small Business Server. There are some great features for example live editing of documents meaning that more than one person can make changes which is something you cannot do with Microsoft Office. All the applications are hosted in the cloud so you know that your files are backed up. Google drive seems to integrate well with Windows so you can also have a local copy of your documents. The other benefit is that you can integrate your office working with the other products like Google+, Google Places and Hangouts. Google+ is a bit of a mission to get your head around but I do think it is grower and with hangouts you have chat, video and messaging for your customers.
So which one would I choose?
This really depends on what you have previously used for example if you are starting out then Google Docs is a fresh dynamic way to run your business. You can access you documents and email from anywhere and with the multi editing and social capabilities it is quite a neat solution. Though if you have a previous server which is likely to be Small Business Server it is a pretty seamless to go to the cloud with Office 365 and Server Essentials. Together they provide the stepping stone that most businesses need to be able to fully embrace the cloud. The thing is that most small businesses will find Office 365 and Server Essentials a good compromise which is why it is the likely solution for most.
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