Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

In today’s swiftly changing digital environment, traditional workplace is being replaced by agile and on-the-go accessible workplace. Powered by digital technologies, sharing and collaborating are the new success factors, yielding high results.

Working together is the new norm and this leads to better work mindset that more and more organizations are adopting these days, instead of letting workers struggle with their tasks alone.

Which is better and why - Office 365 or Google Apps or Hosted exchange? 1

Instant messaging and quick communication mechanisms are the needs of the day. This has led to a rise in the number of business communication tools, giving organizations many choices, not only in terms of professional emails and instant messaging, but also how securely they collaborate with their remote workers, how cost-efficiently they conduct meetings and a lot more.

For most businesses, global is the new office location.

E-mail is a commodity – a myth or a reality

Email is the core of effective business communication, an effective gateway to collaboration and the method through which business relationships are nurtured, both internally and externally.

According to a recent report by Statista, e-mail users worldwide amounted to 3.7 billion users in 2017, which is set to grow to 4.1 billion users in 2021. Below image shows the increase in the number of e-mail users worldwide from 2017 to 2021.

Which is better and why - Office 365 or Google Apps or Hosted exchange? 2

With cloud gaining momentum, multiple cloud email services have come up and have made it easy to access mails anywhere, anytime on the go.

According to Matthew Cain, Research VP at Gartner “The faulty assumption that e-mail is a commodity can lead to a lack of due diligence when assessing cloud-based e-mail services. Understanding the complex nature of e-mail systems will lead to more informed decisions about e-mail provisioning models”.

No one size fit for all. This holds true for business communication as well.

So, it is necessary to first understand all the needs which a single solution can fulfill for a business, like instant messaging, meetings, intra-net, secure cloud-based storage, web-based applications to share and edit documents on the go, calendars, planners, and also the type of email hosting that will suit an organization best.

So, organizations before choosing any communication or email exchange solution, should conduct an investigation of both advantages and disadvantages that will help them choose the best email platform for their business.

The purpose of this article is to extend a helping hand for the same.

Office 365 vs Google Apps vs Hosted exchange – comparing business communication solutions

There are a variety of cloud-based communication solutions available in the market, but with the emergence of diversified workplace culture, the need for team-based and collaborative, digitally connected work environments become crucial to efficiency and growth of the business.

What is Microsoft Office 365?

Office 365 is a suite of services offered by Microsoft and hosted within their own datacenters across the globe. This cloud-based business communication suite includes:

  • Exchange Online – It provides email and calendaring services similar to what’s available with an on-premises deployment of Exchange Server.
  • SharePoint Online – It provides collaboration, document management, and other functionality as available with on-premises SharePoint server deployment.
  • Skype for Business– It provides instant messaging, web conferencing, presence awareness and functionality as available in on-premises deployments of Skype for Business.
  • OneDrive for Business – It provides safe cloud storage that lets you backup, store and share documents, presentations, videos, anywhere and on any device.

For new features of Office 365, read: https://www.znetlive.com/blog/office-365-icebreaking-features-you-might-not-have-tried-till-now/

To compare Office 365 Business and Enterprise Plans, read: https://www.znetlive.com/blog/a-quick-guide-to-compare-office-365-business-and-enterprise-plans/

With Office 365, enterprises can introduce digital workplace strategies to improve collaboration and communication and to enable employees to work together effectively, irrespective of location or device.

Office 365 is responsive to the key trends in the digital workplace: remote work from anywhere with shrinking budgets, bring your own device and enables “do more with less” mentality.

Outlook is the exchange server for emails in Office 365.

Microsoft Exchange server – a brief introduction

Exchange server is the messaging and collaborative platform of Microsoft. It provides email, scheduling, and collaboration tools and messaging service applications that lets users create and manage all their communication easily on different devices – both at workplace and on mobile devices.

With exchange, users get –

  • Large mailboxes with enterprise email capabilities
  • Document sharing and better collaboration facility
  • Security, advanced archiving and compliance features

Exchange Server is available as on-premise software and as a hosted service -Exchange Online. The Microsoft Exchange On-Premises allows its users to manage and control their on-premises deployments of Exchange, whereas in the software as a service form, you get two offers Office 365 and Hosted Exchange.

What is Hosted Exchange?

Hosted Exchange is an email and productivity solution from Microsoft that is customizable per an organization’s needs, but requires cumbersome manual updates.

With hosted exchange service, you need to maintain the infrastructure and look after its requirements. It misses some important Office 365 features like Groups, Analytics etc. that have become essential for teamwork and productivity, with more number of organizations moving to cloud.

You don’t get business class mail, calendar or access to secure email from anywhere and on any device with conditional access policies and MDM (Mobile Device Management) that are the needs of the day, considering increasing security breaches.  Furthermore, you don’t have much control, so you cannot fix your email system if it goes down,  you’ll have to wait for the provider to get the system up and running again.

Migration is also expensive from one version to another.

Comparison between hosted exchange and Office 365 Exchange Online:

Which is better and why - Office 365 or Google Apps or Hosted exchange? 3

Given below is a quick comparison between Office 365 and Hosted exchange:

Which is better and why - Office 365 or Google Apps or Hosted exchange? 4

What is G Suite?

G Suite is a cloud productivity and collaboration solution from Google which offers Gmail as the web based email service. It is popular for providing its users with large amounts of storage space and robust search capabilities.

G Suite fulfills different business communication needs with its different services:

For communication -Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Google+

For storage – Google Drive

For collaboration -Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Sites

You also get an Admin panel and Vault for managing users and the services.

Let’s compare Office 365 with G Suite and Hosted Exchange:

Comparison between Office 365, G Suite and Hosted Exchange

 Hosted exchangeOffice 365G Suite
ReliabilityIt does not guarantee uptime and financially backed service level agreement.SLA of 99.9%
(Guaranteed by Microsoft).
SLA of 99.9%: downtime can be up to 8 hours per year
Office Applications*It does not enable data and applications integration across Office 365. You will need to add the Office Apps SKU to business email hosting exchange plans.Discussed in detail in the table below.Discussed in detail in the table below.
MigrationYou’ll need assistance for migration as Microsoft has stopped support for different versions.An organization can migrate mailboxes from an Exchange Server, another email system to Office 365 easily. Read here in detailProvides data migration service to migrate users’ mail, contacts and calendars to G Suite. Read here in detail.
ComplianceIt does not satisfy the demand for advanced compliance and security requirements.Security and compliance features are embedded into every Office 365 product, not just email. Read here in detail.Google solutions undergo regular audits for SOC1, SOC2, HIPAA, FISMA, FEDRAMP. Read the details here.
Storage capacity*Limited mailbox storage and archiving.Mailbox storage limit of 50GB per user (Message size limit of 150MB).25GB per mailbox, message size limit of 25MB in paid version. Limit of 10 user accounts and 7GB per mailbox with free version.
Flexibility*Misses key Office 365 features- Clutter, Analytics etc.Provides a number of tools, like Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer, Skype for Business and lot more.Gmail and a number of Google Apps, like Docs, Forms, Sheets, Drive are available.

In the table below, you get the comparison between features of Office 365 and Google apps.

Office 365 vs Google apps comparison chart

  Office 365 G Suite
Productivity Apps*Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, Outlook, Skype for Business, Access Complete professional suite with advanced features.Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slide, Sites, Keep, Calendar, Hangouts, Gmail, Complete suite with less professional features. Mail and calendar have no integration to “OneNote” in a meeting.
Mobility/accessibilityAvailable on desktop and mobile (can be installed on up to 5 devices) and online Also available for offline work.Browser-based only. Mobile apps available. No desktop versions. Also available for offline work.
EmailExchange Online 50GB email storage and 1TB OneDrive for Business storage per user.Gmail 30GB storage per user shared between Drive, Gmail and Picasa.
SynchronizationCalendar, email and contacts are automatically synchronized on all devices using ActiveSync.Calendar, contacts and email are automatically synchronized on all devices using Microsoft’s ActiveSync.
CollaborationSkype for instant messaging and online meetings.

Microsoft Teams for chat based workspace.

Planner for keeping a track of all your tasks.

Google Talk for instant messaging, Google Hangouts for video conferences.

  • Hangouts neither support file sharing through IM nor preloading of slides.
  • It doesn’t allow users to preview slides, poll or show the presenter during content sharing.
  • Chat based workplace requires 3rd party solution such as Slack.
  • Workday management planner requires 3rd party solution such as smart sheets.
Document LibrariesSharePoint – a complete, customizable and flexible document management and storage systemBasic tool with less customization and integration features. While opening Office documents, users face a problem of loss of formatting.
Plans & FlexibilityMultiple plans available for different needs and sizes.Same plans for all business sizes and needs.
Privacy PolicyMicrosoft’s privacy policy says they will not scan your data or provide information to third parties.Google’s Privacy Policy states they can use information they collect from you for advertising purposes.

*May vary from one plan to another.

Do let us know your feedback or queries in the comments section.

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