* I wrote this post for the blog on my business's site at www.thdnconline.com * If you read the news, even if you are not a follower of tech, we are sure you have seen and heard a lot about “The Cloud”. Journalists make this out to be some magic place where your company stores all your important data without the hassle of maintaining your own servers and other IT equipment. Google is going hard after this business as they challenge Microsoft for your IT dollars.
Google has the Google Apps product which can handle all your e-mail, document storage and creation, instant messaging, and more. All of this happens right in your web browser. Think Gmail for work, and you have this product. Microsoft now has Office365 which is Exchange running on their servers instead of yours. It uses Outlook just like your employees are used to, but instead of the mail in your server room it is in a Microsoft server farm somewhere. They also offer the instant messaging option with Lync, and document sharing with SharePoint.
Are either of these options good for your business? Well if you have less than ten employees, then both of these options can work for you. However, if you have a business with more than ten people we would argue against these services. Why? Well the first reason is security. You have to be comfortable with all of your files and e-mail hosted outside of your office. Depending on your type of work this might not be a deal breaker. The bigger reason is uptime. While it is true that both Google and Microsoft have very good uptime rates, they both still have their outages. Of course even the servers in your office will also have outages. If you host your own e-mail just add on a third party service, such as Symantec E-Mail Continuity, that spools all of your e-mail. If your servers are down you can go to the website of the company holding your e-mail and see the messages that have been sent until your servers are back online. If Google Apps are down for two hours, they will not lose your new e-mail. You just won’t be able to access it while they are down. Again, if your company does not rely on e-mail heavily this might not bother you. What about no access to your companies documents on Google Drive? That should make you think.