Here at Speedster we specialise in migrating businesses from traditional desktop computing to Microsoft’s full cloud-based productivity offering, Office 365. So as you’d imagine, our early conversations with customers often produce a recurring question:
“Should I be using Office 365 or Google Apps?”
Google Apps For Work (recently rebranded as G Suite) is Google’s online-only equivalent to Microsoft’s more widely-used and well-established productivity suite. It’s certainly not without merit, and boasts some very bright ideas - as you’d expect from a company like Google!
That said, there are some big reasons that Office is still the world’s most popular desktop publishing brand, and why Office 365 is used by more enterprises the world over than any other cloud-based solution.
What do both of them do?
First up, we can’t address the differences until we've compared the similarities. Both products allow you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations whilst collaborating with team members. They also both provide video conferencing functionality, cloud storage and online applications. Additionally, you can use both of them on the go, as Google Apps and Office 365 can be installed on smartphones and tablets, as well as your more typical laptop or desktop computer.
However, when it comes to really deciding which is really better for your business, the devil is in the detail. Here are four key factors you might want to consider before making the decision:
Ubiquity and compatibility
Office 365 is the latest version of a software that has been around for more than two decades, and is used by more than a billion people. That’s a lot of individuals who will already be familiar with how it works, and a wealth of businesses you might want to work with, already running compatible software. Not only is Office 365 therefore easy to get the most out of, using it also makes it simpler to work with the widest variety of other companies.
G Suite by comparison is the relative newcomer, with a less widely used set of apps. That will mean your team need to spend some time acclimatising to a different set of tools than they’re used to, and could potentially throw up compatibility issues if your clients are established Microsoft Office users. Google’s apps aren’t too dissimilar to Microsoft’s, and you can use Google’s apps for work to open Office document that have standard formatting, but the more basic functionality means that if you want to work on more complex pieces sent to you by an MS Office user, you might end up needing to install to an offline version of Word, Excel or Powerpoint anyway as a fall-back option – which in a small way defeats the point of paying once to use one suite of programs.
Office 365 offers seven differently priced packages ranging from Business Essentials ($6 per user per month) to Enterprise E5 ($35 per user per month). This give your business a high degree of flexibility in balancing your budget with your productivity and storage needs, and allows you to tailor the apps on your Microsoft Sharepoint, giving you a central business dashboard to work form on a daily basis.
Microsoft’s cloud-based suite also includes downloadable desktop versions of popular Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel so your team can work offline the traditional way and save to their local machines if they choose – an option not available in G Suite. This is especially good if you don’t want to make work public and available for editing, until it’s reached a certain stage of polish or finality.
In short, Office 365 offers a tight intersection of pricing for flexible working options, and a high level of adaptability when it comes to working on or offline.
G Suite features just three pricing plans: ‘Basic’ ($5 per user per month); ‘Business’ ($10) and ‘Enterprise’ ($25). This makes Google apps storage easier to understand but far less flexible when it comes to building a business dashboard and set of tools to suit your budget.
Like Office, Google’s work apps – namely Docs, Sheets, and Slides – can be downloaded and worked with offline, but unlike Microsoft’s offering work can only be saved in the cloud. There are both benefits and drawbacks to this. On one hand, G Suite can claim to be the most straightforward way to collaborate on a document-by-document basis, with two users simultaneously live editing a single spreadsheet, for instance. On the other hand, this transparency can lead to a too-many-cooks scenario, with people feeding back on or editing work which the original document owner might not feel is even in a position to be shared yet.
By comparison, then, G Suite is less flexible on pricing, simpler in its selection of apps and tools, and offers a more transparent way of working – which can be great for collaboration, but can also confuse things if you aren’t entirely careful.
Office 365 offers 1TB of storage on all of its plans, which range – enough to last a very long time indeed if your business deals mostly in Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents – with additional 50GB, 100GB, or Unlimited options reserved for Outlook email storage, depending on your plan. And if you find you’re pushing the limits of that 1TB allowance (more likely if your business deals in media with large file sizes, like hi-res photography or video editing), you can purchase additional storage for a small flat fee of $0.20 per GB, per user.
Of course, being able to work offline with Office 365 apps also gives you the option of saving some files locally, and choosing to host online those you most need to make accessible to your team, or those you need backed up most urgently in the cloud. In other words, it gives you added flexibility to juggle files and still stay under your storage cap, before ever needing to purchase extra storage.
G Suite’s basic plan features only 30GB of space across storing of all files and emails combined – a far lower capacity, and all without the added flexibility to save on cloud space by storing files locally instead. (The one caveat is that documents created using Googles own apps do not count towards this quota).
At the other end of the scale, the ‘G Suite Enterprise’ package offers unlimited storage for a $10 lower monthly fee per user than Office 365. It’s an attractive proposition, but one you should weigh up against other factors, like the ability to work offline, the sophistication of the apps offered, and compatibility of Google documents with those worked on by your clients. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the number of users in your business, against the file sizes they’re likely to be dealing with, before deciding whether the $10 saving makes sense for your employees’ needs.
Security and peace of mind
Office 365 stores all of your data, across every available plan, in secure Microsoft data centres, meaning your work saved in the cloud is safeguarded, retrievable, and private in line with flexible security settings that you can adjust to your business’s needs. It’s also backed up as standard, meaning you don’t need to pay extra or install any additional apps to have full peace of mind, even if an employee leaves without notice, or a file gets accidentally deleted.
G Suite however is far less straightforward when it comes to the legalities of privacy and security. Most important of all, Google’s work apps suite doesn’t offer a built-in backup facility on the first two of its three payment plans. Instead, you’ll need to manually install a third-party backup program, which will require a greater degree of technical knowhow.
Want to know more about Microsoft Office 365?
Visit our Office 365 page to find out how it could work for your business.
Made a decision?
If you think Office 365 could be the best way to take your business tools into the cloud, we’re ready to help take you there. To arrange a meeting, call Speedster IT on 0203 011 1234, e-mail us at email@example.com, or fill out our contact us page.