Google Partners Exchange Comparison Document

There are some poorly compiled marketing reports out there for CIOs to read in their in-flight magazines. This new 7 Keys to Comparing Google Apps Premier Edition with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003/2007 report misses the mark by so much, it cannot even pretend it isn't marketing crap. (This document is a .pdf file.)

1) No, client software is not 'required' to run Exchange. Some companies do use OWA in the browser as their only client.

2) No, on premise hardware is not required. There are hosted Exchange solutions out there. Why does Google never seem to compare itself to other hosted offerings?

3) What is the Google offline experience like? Non-existent perhaps?

Those are just a few thoughts. This document was a frustrating read. I understand the great benefits and significant shortcomings that accompany a move to a hosted messaging solution, including GMail through Google Apps Premier. I understand that they need to attack the biggest fish in the sea of messaging. Chris posted some information on GMail as a hosted option for Exchange earlier.

In their comparison chart, it suggests that Exchange 2003 and 2007 come with an Instant Messaging solution, which they do not. These comparisons also tend to call things even because they both offer 'calendars' or 'contacts'. Well, almost all messaging solutions have 'calendar' functionality and Google's calendar options and features are not in the same level as that of Exchange Server or Lotus Domino or Zimbra or most other solutions with an on-premise option for that matter.

I think Google spent more effort on April Fools Day articles.

William Lefkovics

William Lefkovics on April 4, 2009 at 09:53 PM in Articles
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Comments

William,

I agree with you that this document is not complete, nor completely accurate. While Google has not compared itself to hosted Exchange offerings, we have. We find that through resellers, using Google Apps Premier Edition can provide savings of 60% or more against other offerings.

In part, the challenge is comparing apples to apples. Most hosted exchange services do not offer nearly as much space (25GB) per inbox. Google's native BB integetration is free -- no need for BES servers or services. And with Google Sites, many organizations can avoid paying for hosted Sharepoint services as well.

Google's offline experience is limited, with new capabilities added every 9 to 12 weeks (3 or 4 release cycles).

To your first point, while you can run OWA against exchange, you sacrifice significant functionality across mail, calendar, tasks, and contacts.

Finally, I agree that Google's calendar service is not on the same level as Exchange. Google's is superior. As an example, Google lets you link a customized view of a calendar (for events, whatever) from your public website. Updates you make internally are pushed to the web page in real time. While you can export an Exchange calendar to the web, it is extremely difficult to do so without becoming vulnerable to security threats.

Back to point, Google Apps Premier Edition is not for everyone. It does, however, provide a viable, less expensive alternative for many organizations.

Regards,
Allen
www.horizoninfoservices.com

Posted by: Allen Falcon at Apr 6, 2009 6:00:54 AM

I would say the comparison is fair. They never said they were going to compare hosted gmail vs hosted exchange. They are comparing an established e-mail solution (exchange on customer's premises) with a plausible alternative (google app in the cloud). Somebody might think it's a better solution, someone else might disagree with that but there is nothing wrong in comparing the two and I cannot find any blatant misrepresentation in the Google document.

Posted by: pennino at Apr 6, 2009 8:39:24 AM

Thanks for the comments, Allen.

You do not sacrifice that much functionality moving to OWA as the only client when considering Exchange 2003 or 2007. The feature-set is not lacking in comparison with Google Premier (which my son's school uses).

And I also have not seen Exchange hosted offerings with mailbox quotas as high as what Google allows. I also rarely see such a need for that kind of email storage. I assume all hosted e-mail providers will continue to ramp up those numbers as demand increases. But from a marketing perspective, decision makers see that comparison and consider it icing on their collaborative cupcake. 25GB is bigger. It doesn't matter whether they will use it anytime soon. When I see it I think of the speedometer on my old car which displayed up to 220 km/h. It was a Honda Accord.

Google's BB integration is included. They use IMAP, don't they? How's the Google contact and calendar syncing with the BB? For some, that sort of limitation is acceptable.

Google's calendaring has some features that are not easily managed in other solutions. But superior? Really? I'm not sure it would make my top 10. Ok, maybe with those little weather icons included. Nor their terribly over-rated webmail interface. I have only used it for 6 years, so maybe I am missing the value, but I can not imagine working in that as a primary client. Again, I am sure it works for some. With Exchange Web Services, publishing calendar content is straightforward and secure, but not exactly a configurable feature out of the box - it currently takes some work.

Google is pretty solid. If it has everything that your company needs and is not missing anything that you want, it is well positioned to serve as a quality solution. It has only gone down a few times, and they never did recover some of my email they lost a few years ago. Thankfully it was only list subscriptions.

I remember last decade as internet-based backup solutions started appearing. Now we have Zmanda and Mozy and others. But as the trend continues toward hosted messaging solutions in the cloud, I am compelled to find some backup solution that brings my cloud-based data/e-mail/IP in house as a backup.

I don't deny GMail is a great option for some, especially when bundled with the Google Apps Premier offering. Certainly price and brand has them well positioned and many other solutions are playing catch up, Microsoft included. Google would really win if they came up with a GMail-Outlook MAPI Connector.

My mistake is looking for some solid technical references from a poor piece of "Pick me! Pick me!" marketing material.

I like Rob Steenwyk's comparison here:
http://www.budboytech.com/bud-boy-tech-blog/2009/2/6/google-apps-vs-microsoft-hosted-exchange-comparison.html

Posted by: William Lefkovics at Apr 6, 2009 10:37:11 PM

Late Response

Google has finally addressed the issue of an Outlook MAPI Connector.

Also, I would like to point out that OWA is only a /passable/ tool when used with Internet Explorer. If you're using other 'real' web-browsers, then the OWA is pathetically weak. Google seems to behave in Safari, IE, Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

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