SharePoint or Google Apps, which is best for you?

Date:December 9th, 2010 Author: Tags: ,
Category: General, SharePoint Ideas Comments:0 ;

apples and orangesWith both Google and Microsoft offering collaboration solutions in the form of Apps and SharePoint it’s only natural that organisations should look at comparing the two. We think it’s worth looking at this debate for ourselves.

So which is better – Google Apps or SharePoint? As ever, the answer really depends on what your business needs to operate and evolve. The key point to remember is that while they offer some similar features, both solutions are very different beasts.

Google Apps has come a fair way over the past few years and one of the main advantages it has over SharePoint is its lower cost. The standard edition is free, but most organizations tend to upgrade to its premier edition option that includes intranet with Postini, a high-end email security solution. You could outsource your entire “Office” for $50 per user per year, which represents a huge cost saving over any in-house IT solution.

The main features that Google Apps has are its messaging facility, including Gmail, Google Calendar and Groups, and its collaboration offering, with Google Docs, Sites and Video. Being a cloud-based service, Google strongly emphasize their security, support and reliability features. On the face of it, Google Apps may be a perfect entry-level alternative to SharePoint if you have a small business or are a one-person operation.

Of course cost savings come at a price. Google Apps doesn’t come close to the range of collaboration features that you get with SharePoint. With powerful workflows, reliable secondary functions like Information Rights Management and an application development platform. If you factor in how easily SharePoint integrates with an existing Office suite then it’s easy to see how Microsoft can waggle accusatory fingers at Google Apps for not being enterprise-ready.

For many organizations though the rich array of features offered by SharePoint will simply be overwhelming and what Google has to offer will be enough. Particularly for smaller organizations and those who are more “outward facing” – have more interaction with people outside, rather than inside, of the organization, the sheer intuitive simplicity of the Google Aps solution, plus the ease of collaboration with the “outside world” may give Apps the edge over SharePoint.

There are limits to some functionality if you opt for SharePoint Online (see our post on SharePoint In House Vs Cloud for more on this), but even if you choose Microsoft’s cloud offering, the range of features outweighs Google Apps and costs start at $120 per user per year for a minimum of five users. However, Google Apps does have open API’s for developers which allows for some customization if you need it.

Google Apps is a great solution for a small enterprise and it can easily work alongside other more powerful software. Sure cloud based solutions lack the power of SharePoint, but if you’re in a small company, you probably don’t need these advanced capabilities anyway. When it comes to collaboration, Google Apps can also compete in terms of cost, speed and the ability to engage users. However, with no integration with Microsoft Office applications, a limited development platform and limited collaboration features, Google Apps often struggles to be a comprehensive business solution when compared to SharePoint.

Are you using Google Apps and SharePoint? How do you think the two solutions measure up?

Further reading:

1. SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 web apps better than Google Apps?

2. Google Vs SharePoint can be apples vs oranges

3. The Big Switch: From SharePoint to Google Apps

4. Review: Microsoft Office Web Apps vs Google Apps

5. SharePoint and Office Web Apps

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