For the past few months I have been looking into how to best migrate off of Microsoft Exchange and onto Google Apps. The first step in that process was to determine the needs of everyone that would be using the new mail system and how they differed from doing things before. The second step was to see if the new system could stand up to these requirements, and have a smooth transition plan to get there.
I am happy to report that for the past few weeks I have fully migrated off of MS Exchange and Outlook using only a browser ang Google apps for email (except for some calendar related requirements until the rest of the office switches over) and loving every minute of it.
The biggest change by far is that my interface to mail (a.k.a. my universe) is now through a web browser. This is much easier to say than it is to change the habit of having a program open on your desktop running your entire system. Tabs are now homes for various tasks such as Mail, composing, and calender – open all day. I have not yet made the switch to Google Docs as they simply do not stand up to Excel in any way – although many documents are now shared with me this way.
Setting up and maintaining Google Apps For your Domain is very easy, and with enterprise accounts you get an added layer of service and support (at some cost).
Many startups have know the power of Google Apps for quite some time. Not having to have an external Exchange provider or in house mail system has been great for low burn companies.
A few things to note:
1. We now have a hosted BES solution setup to handled Blackberry support and provisioning (enterprise activation)
2. There is a 25GB limit on enterprise account mailboxes (this means .PST’s or multiple PST’s will have to be scrubbed or fit within that limit)
3. The Google toolset of synchronization and transition software is great but requires time and bandwidth to get everything moved over
4. Patience is required and even after the move is “done” there is a waiting period before “Everything” appears in your new mailbox
5. Getting off of desktop software is a tough behavior to change
I cannot imagine now going back to an Exchange environment, although I know they exist and many people are happy with that setup.
Moving more and more of my workflow, materials, and applications to the cloud makes switching computers a breeze and means there is less chance for a local failure.
Many people cite privacy and connectivity as issues surrounding cloud based workflow – but I feel that the trade off of backup and convenience make up for the others. The more people that join the system, the more important the network becomes. Although I do expect some downtime in the future, it will most likely be worked on by more people and scrutinized by more paying customers than the hosting companies that housed Exchange in the past.