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Some people will feel uncomfortable with having their company email outside their company network. How to allay such fears? What other issues are there in using Google for corporate email? What are the benefits?

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Google has a corporate solution called Google Apps. Your company could consider using that. The paid version of Google Apps has service level guarantees, which could be better than what your internal IT could provide.

As for advantages, Google has better spam filtering than most other email providers, because they have so much mail data they process (through their public Gmail service).

Disclosure: I don't work for Google nor have any relation to them. I do have domains on Google Apps, and I have also worked for places that do.

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Clarification: Google Apps is still hosted @ google –  xkcd150 May 2 '09 at 4:29
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I have switched our company to Google Apps Enterprise, so I thought I would give some feedback based on an actual switch. So far, the switchover has been pretty smooth, and practically all user's old email has been able to be uploaded to the Google servers. Although it is a valid concern that Google could do something that would lose our data, it is much more likely that they will do a much much better job than we on infrastructure maintenance. About 10% of my users have been grumpy about the switch. Here are the valid grumpy comments:

1) Google Web Client does not allow the forwarding of multiple emails.

2) Attaching multiple attachments via drag & drop not possible.

3) Having to attach files individually and wait for them to upload is annoying.

4) They are used to folders in Outlook/Mozilla and refuse to abandon folders for the search function.

5) Heavy folder users have a hard time understanding the difference between folders and labels, and the fact that labels are not hierarchical.

6) No drag-and-drop onto labels.

Since an email client can still be used with the accounts, I have helped a small number of users configure their fat clients to connect using IMAP. In the future, only the web client will be "officially" supported.

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I think you need to think carefully about offloading email to a third party if email is at all important to your business. My key concerns would be (these apply to any email provider)

  • How long could you function with no email?
  • Can you migrate to another email provider
  • Do you have any legal requirement to keep ALL email for n years (lots of financial businesses do
  • How would your clients feel about having their emails to you stored on a third party server?
  • Do people email you sensitive data (health records maybe)?
  • Could you survive a loss of all your archived emails?

Specific concerns with Google (as of date of posting)

  • They don't have the best support record
  • Email isn't their primary business so they could decide to stop providing the service at any time
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Use google gears and it works offline. With Google Apps Enterprise, Postini is included to pull archive copies off the server and provide SOX compliance. Your support comment is valid if you need to talk to a real person - although we have not had to do that yet. –  Loren Charnley Jun 15 '09 at 19:30
    
These are good points to keep in mind in reference to any hosted mail platform. Once you answer these questions you should then ask yourself an important question. How would your own internal solution compare on those exact same questions? Do you have the resources to build a robust, secure email platform while providing the necessary redundancy? If not, it's likely the hosted solution will be better in all those categories. –  icky3000 Apr 19 '11 at 23:09
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+1 for Google not having the best support record. I've heard of some absolute shockers with companies using Google's corporate mail service and receiving little to no support when required to trace mail delivery failures and other similar issues. In fairness, this is second-hand talk, but combined with David's points, it's enough to put me off hosting non-personal mail with Google. –  Richard Keller May 29 '11 at 22:25
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Our company has started looking at using Google Apps. The people in IT & dev can opt-in as beta testers. We've been using Outlook + Exchange (surprize) and the beta users have access to both.

The major benefits to me are the search and storage (it's set at 25GB compare to our Outlook's quota of 400MB...). Also the keyboard shortcuts are really nice if you prefer using the keyboard (like me)

Some problems we have using Google Apps' mail over Outlook are

  • Calendar support: It doesn't have a feature to book resources (e.g. rooms)
  • Directory Service Integration: It doesn't have a concept of groups so setting up filters for mails from a certain group of people become quite cumbersome.

I guess many of the problems above are ok as long as everyone uses Google Apps.

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Google apps does support booking conference rooms - we are currently using this feature. Unfortunately, the implementation is not real intuitive, but it is there. (google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60766) –  Loren Charnley Jun 15 '09 at 19:27
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Also, the comparison between the 25GB in Google and the 400MB is moot. You can configure Exchange to have 25GB mailboxes, your Exchange admins have just chosen not to. –  icky3000 Apr 19 '11 at 23:03
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We also use Google Apps, and it's a great solution for small businesses who don't want to deal with the availability and maintenance issues of an in-house solution.

However, sometimes the service has been flaky, with unexplicable and "policy" interruptions, sometimes without you noticing until you stop receiving e-mail or somebody else lets you know.

And their support is one of the worst that exists. Still, for us at least, it's worth the money ($0).

We haven't tested the Premier edition, but I hope they better offer a greater level of service than with the free edition.

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Google seems to have had a series of issues where they're either reject mail targeted at mailing lists or, worse, will silently drop such emails on the floor. This seems to apply both to the for-pay Premier edition and the free Standard edition.

"spam" targeted at a mailing list goes nowhere - This critical issue means that you should never use Google-Apps "groups" (mailing lists) for anything that might involve email from the general public. There is a hacky workaround, but it doesn't inspire confidence.

Thread1 - known issue, subsequently fixed

Still unexplained delivery failure

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I think the bigger reason is some people dont feel right hosting all of their email somewhere else than inside their own office.

My opinion is that if you could skip the exchange crack and use google apps it could save a company a lot of money.

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If only the executives weren't paranoid about their data.. google apps could save me a lot of time and the company a lot of money –  Gert M May 6 '09 at 7:54
    
What always amuses me is Execs who blow up at the thought of having their E-Mail hosted by a third party, but have no problem at all with all of their sales information being hosted at Salesforce.com. Is the one really much (or any?) worse than the other? –  Christopher Cashell Jul 6 '09 at 15:41
    
@Christopher: and the same execs are sometimes fine with constraining the human and financial resources for the internal solution so extremely that you don't have adequate security or backups...but at least it's hosted in house! –  icky3000 Apr 19 '11 at 23:11
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If you do this then it is important to ensure that your ISP has direct peering to Google's network. When you access sites on the Internet, your packets often end up being carried across several different peer networks. You will want to keep that number to a minimum and for most companies, the lowest that you can get is to have only one network (your ISP's) between you and Google. This way, you ensure that the network path is under contract. One contract is with your ISP and one is with Google.

If your ISP doesn't peer with Google, then you should not start using Google Mail in production until you can change ISPs.

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I think one issue is lack of support, there is a post on Joels site that describes losing access to a Google Apps account because of a domain issue.

Don't Ever Use Google Apps for Anything Important

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If you read through the details there, I think the better take away is "always register your domain name yourself, and directly with a registrar". The problem was less with Google Apps, and more with the registration. –  Christopher Cashell Jul 6 '09 at 16:10
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I think making the move in most cases is great. There are two things I have stuggled with and have not found a solution for yet.

Images in signature such as banners/links to your website. (Almost all of are sales team does this)

In windows making Google mail you default mail client. (Example if I have an application that emails a report and i just click a button and it drops it right in my default mail client.)

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Is email useful to you when your internet connection is down?

If so, not having the email server on your LAN may be an issue, if most of your staff are in the some office.

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Just be aware that many individuals have full access to gmail. Governments and law enforcement across the world (and some hackers) have access. It's the large number of untrained individuals using the gmail backdoors that make the system vulnerable. You've only heard of the break-ins that have been publicised. Talk to any university about email break-ins using "approved" access. Not a big risk, but gmail is a much bigger target than you will ever be. Many VC investor's won't allow third party systems, whether or not it really makes sense from a security standpoint. Most "hacking" isn't technical, it's lazy administration, bad passwords and social engineering. Gmail is arguably better than you protecting against a disgruntled employee hacking the system.

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-23/opinion/schneier.google.hacking_1_chinese-hackers-access-system-google?_s=PM:OPINION

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Remember Gmail is still officially beta. That gives Google wiggle room if it does something catastrophic to your mail.

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Gmail officially dropped it's beta status in early July this year.techcrunch.com/2009/07/07/… –  Helvick Oct 22 '09 at 8:05
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