The 'Cloud' is the buzz word in technology circles right now, but how can it really help me and my business in our daily activities?
Our e-life revolves around communication, content and collaboration. In the past, most of the tools/data related to these activities were hosted on a single computer,whereas now you have multiple electronic handles, and synchronization can turn into a nightmare: there is always missing data, because it is hosted êlsewhere.
Google Apps solves this problem simply..
Google Apps is a suite of applications and repositories which are hosted online. They are therefore available anywhere where you have internet access, which thanks to 3G+ networks, means almost anywhere!
The communication components consist of Google Mail and Google Talk for email, instant messaging and voice calls, which offer 25Gb per user in the business version and 8Gb in the free version.
Google Calendar allows for meeting and event organisation along with collaboration, and data is hosted on Google Docs, Google Sites, Picasa and Blogger.
Thanks to API, you can import your existing users directory (LDAP, Active Directory) to retain logins and passwords. You can also link your applications with Google Single-Sign On, which supports OpenID and OAuth so finding the right client is painless.
Once your mail, calendar, chat, documents, web site, blogs and images are loaded into Google Apps, you will be able to discover how simple it is to use.
- No hardware expense! No more fear of fire or theft. You no longer need any local servers.
- No software expense. All you need is a decent navigator. No more upgrade management or painful deployment - everyone has the latest version.
- Migration is a step-by-step process. Migrate the mail server, then the mail client, then the calendar, docs, web sites etc.
- The cost is fixed: 40 per year per user for the business version, or a completely free version with up to 10 accounts.
- Everything you need is available at a time and place to suit you; be it on your PC, your laptop, your phone, your networked TV etc.
- Data can be updated with your computer - saving the tedious process of data entry through your smartphone - synchronisation is automated in the background.
- Never risk losing data! If you lose your smartphone, you can access your app and data immediately by entering your account details and password.
- Open standards - no need for a specific client driver.
Google Apps for Business Overview
What about privacy?
With your data stored on-line, some activities may be considered too sensitive/critical. However the data will always remain your property, and will be deleted if you close your G.Apps.
Whilst using Google Apps can mean you are totally dependent on Google, nothing prevents you from keeping a local backup, just in case Google policies become uncomfortable.
Where do I start?
With company communications and storages of a critical nature, migration can only be done by professionals who can run thorough simulations and tests.
For personal use, well, thats easier: I advise you to create your domain and link it to Google Apps. Within a few weeks, you will be asking why you didn't move to the cloud before!