Cloud-hosted services square up

Running your business requires choosing the right tools for you and your employees. In order to streamline work-related productivity, many organizations are migrating to cloud-based office suites—specifically, Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite (formally known as Google Apps).

Both products boast a variety of helpful productivity tools and the latest remote collaboration technologies. While it’s impossible to say which one is “better,” this head-to-head comparison can help you decide which office suite is a better fit for your business.

What are G Suite & Office 365?

Office 365 and G Suite are suites, or packages, of powerful business tools that facilitate you and your employees day-to-day tasks using the cloud. They even provide business email addresses (i.e. name@yourbusiness.com), along with apps for creating documents, spreadsheets, presentations, video conference calls, shared calendars and notes.  

In addition, storing information on Google or Microsoft servers, rather than your own via these suites, can also save your business a lot of money when it comes to IT costs and maintenance.  

Plans and Pricing

First, let’s look at plans and prices. It’s important to note that Microsoft requires an annual commitment, while Google offers you the option to make monthly payments if you prefer.

Contact our sales to get a formal quote for your business
GooglevsMicrosoftSuites
Cloud packages head-to-head

Email

While both Office 365 and G Suite offer web and mobile apps (Outlook and Gmail, respectively) for email, there are some subtle differences.

One plus-side to Office 365 is the desktop version of Outlook, which is incredibly feature-rich and lets you sort and group emails with ease. Gmail, on the other hand, is widely used throughout the world. For this reason, a variety of third-party app options (like WordPress) can be linked to it to enhance its capabilities.

Cloud Data Storage

For the entry level plans, Office 365 Business Essentials wins out with 1 TB (terabyte) of storage per user, while the G Suite Basic plan only offers 30 GB. To make matters worse, G Suite includes emails in this storage limit, whereas Office 365 provides extra storage for email files and has an added archiving feature.

However, G Suite’s upgraded plans beat out most of Microsoft’s storage offerings. So long as your business has more than five employees, G Suite Business and Enterprise provides unlimited cloud storage (although, businesses with less than 5 employees on the “Business” plan are capped at 1 TB). Only Microsoft E3 plans and higher offer the same unlimited cloud storage.

Applications

Applications are the cornerstones of a suite’s functionality. G Suite and Office 365 offer you a variety of comparable apps for word processing, creating spreadsheets and presentations, all on the cloud!

While both services offer mobile and online apps, one major benefit of Office 365 is its desktop applications.

This means every user gets a free desktop version of the Office suite (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel) to download.

These feature-rich apps expand far beyond the capabilities of the mobile and online versions, and are available on every plan except the ‘Business Essentials’.

Collaboration

These online applications make both suites ideal for remote collaboration. Microsoft Teams lets facilitates this with tools like real-time co-authoring, mentioning users by name and chat capabilities while working on OneDrive. Microsoft now lets you collaborate using its desktop apps, too, although the updates to shared files are a bit sluggish compared to its online apps.

Similarly, G Suite offers Hangouts for chats, and Google Drive for real-time collaboration. Google’s online and mobile apps were created with cloud collaboration in mind, so some might find them a bit more user-friendly.

For remote meetings, G Suite and Office 365 both offer group video conference calls. If you plan on large-scale video conferences, then Office 365 offers far more for your money: most plans have a 250-participant limit, while the E3 plan increases to an astounding 10,000-person limit.

Meanwhile, G Suite’s Google Meet allows up to 25 participants on the “Basic” plan, 50 on the “Business” plan and 100 on the “Enterprise” plan.  

Security

Cloud services are running into a variety of security issues, and these suites are no exception.

A 2019 Barracuda Networks’ report found that a large percent of ATO (account takeover) attacks were targeted at Microsoft Office 365 accounts after businesses migrated emails to the service. These attacks prompted the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue a set of best practices to help organizations migrate their email services while avoiding risks and vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, Google recently announced that a cloud storage feature for encrypted passwords on its “Enterprise” plans was faulty. As a result, some user passwords were stored in plaintext on Google’s servers!

While cloud computing has its risks, the two suites do have impressive security features. G Suite is comparable to Google’s own level of security, and offers AI detection of suspicious activity, Two-Factor authentication and data leak protection—in which admins can block outgoing communication determined by set keywords.

On the other hand, Office 365 has the option of Multiple Factor Authentication, along with detection of malware, viruses and suspicious activities. Microsoft also provides data loss protection, and admins can restrict access to company-issued devices only.

Ease of Use

So, which is easier to use? Well, it depends on who you are, and your ability to grasp software quickly.

If you’re accustomed to working with MS Word or Excel documents, and edit them for work on a regular basis, then Office 365 and its desktop-to-online formatting compatibility will probably be your best bet. This is especially true if your company solely computes with Windows PCs.

However, new users might find G Suite apps easier to learn, as the tools are a bit simpler and straightforward.

Which is best for you? A Summary:

Some key benefits of each suite: Firstly, Office 365 offers feature-rich apps, and most of its plans come with desktop version of MS Office applications—a definite advantage over its competitors.

Its entry level plan is far more generous in terms of data storage than G Suite’s “Basic” plan. In addition, businesses that already exclusively use Windows technology are likely to find Office 365 better-suited for their needs.

With that said, G Suite was originally designed as a cloud collaborative productivity tool. Therefore, its features might be easier for collaboration and can be used among a wider variety of Windows and Mac devices. In addition, G Suite “Business” plans and above outdoes Microsofts’ when it comes to unlimited cloud file storage.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which of the two is “best.” But, with this knowledge in mind, you can make an informed decision to choose the best cloud suite for you.

Advertisements

The latest cloud computing trends in 2019

It’s 2019, and the Cloud is everywhere—from the apps we use every day to the infrastructure of global tech giants.

According to researchers at Gartner, revenue generated from public cloud services is projected to grow 17.5 percent in 2019. This amounts to a total of $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in 2018.

More than a third of organizations surveyed by Gartner saw cloud investments as a top three investment priority. With this kind of growth, tech organizations are racing to get onboard with cloud-only software and platforms. Here are some of the trends to look out for this year:

Hybrid Cloud, Multi-Cloud and Mergers

IBM announced its purchase of Red Hat last October, calling it the “most significant tech acquisition of 2018.” This combined Red Hat’s extensive network of open-source clouds with IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team.

Mergers like these are likely to become a trend this year, as companies see the vast benefit of using multiple clouds across all sectors of their organization. Furthermore, this system will dominate in the future, as businesses find public clouds inadequate to meet every one of their requirements.

As a more flexible and functional solution, many organizations will shift to a network of multiple private, public and hybrid clouds in the coming years.

Serverless Cloud

Serverless computing is a young market in technology, but it will continue growing in 2019. Serverless computing isn’t actually “serverless.” Instead, it is a cloud-computing model in which the cloud provider itself runs the server on a dynamic, as-used basis (FaaS).

Rather than buying server space, developers can simply use a back-end cloud service to code, only paying for the server space they actually use.

As this relatively new technology develops, we can expect to see more companies providing and expanding their “serverless” offerings.

Artificial Intelligence

Although cloud technologies are growing exponentially, artificial intelligence (AI) could prove an even greater economic driving force. This is because according to Accenture, the impact of AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 in developed countries. 

Around 80 percent of large companies have adopted some form of AI, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Amazon, Twilio and Nvidia, to name a few, are thus, incorporating AI with cloud computing, next-gen GPUs and the Internet of Things (IoT). This has led to the developing of applications with “smart assistants,” and voice-to-text technologies.

Such a combination of AI and the cloud provides an extremely powerful and unconstrained computing network.

Security

Digital transformation is already underway, with Gartner also projecting that 83 percent of all workloads will shift to the cloud by 2020. However, this movement presents issues of cybersecurity.

Many businesses have not properly secured their cloud-stored data. For example, marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis left around 340 million records exposed on its cloud servers. This was uncovered in a data breach last year.

Mitigating factors

The implementation of the General Data Practice Regulations (GDPR) makes this even trickier. The GDPR affects cloud security, and IT companies will likely struggle to comply with these new laws while protecting sensitive information.

Cloud computing services are progressing exponentially, as are their new developments. As a result, 2019 will surely be filled with businesses pouring investment into enterprise solutions. This while expanding, securing and implementing cloud technologies to their fullest extent.

Bridget is a freelance writer and editor, and the founder of Lost Bridge Blog, where she writes about traveling as a Millennial woman on a budget. When not writing, you can find her traveling, drinking inhuman amounts of caffeine and scrolling through the latest tech & political news.
N26 Bank
N26 Bank

Life hacks using tech

We often do things out of routine without considering if there is an easier way to achieve the same result quicker and even more effectively. In a larger company or organization, this is the job of the business analyst.
What if we applied this to other daily activities and tasks that shape the way we live?

This would give us more time to partake in of the things we love.

It’s hard enough for most working-class adults to spend most of their days in the week behind a PC. This is usually followed by hours behind the wheel in traffic or commuting via public transportation.

This makes the task of going shopping or even attending a doctor’s check-up after an 8-hour work stint more of a burden or chore. Worse over if you must queue further to get the service.

This very example came to mind when a relative complained about having to go from one doctor to another. When referred to a specialist they had to then book another appointment by calling that specialist’s practice.

Now granted, this is basically a ´first world problem’. Because having a specialist attend to a back problem after your doctor recommends it during an initial check-up is a luxury. One that third world citizens could only dream of having in the first place!

Problem solving scenario

So, in the case of the referral to a specialist, a simple unified medical system can resolve this. A CRM database linking all the medical practitioners including their schedules can save you the time taken to arrange the new appointment.

This system would also have a secure high-tech scanning and attachment add-on so that X-rays, scans, diagnoses and the attending doctor’s notes can be attached. All for the attention of the specialist.

The times for the new appointment can be chosen quickly while the patient is at the doctor’s practice.  When convenient, you could then go to the specialist directly.

The concept explained

This is one very basic and rudimentary example of how an automated, centralized software solution can help schedule appointments.

To achieve maximum optimization the system would clearly require several tests before implementation.

Too often systems analysts and developers do not consider the end users. The user experience (UX) is the most crucial aspect of software development and should be the first step in building an automated system or it will never achieve its purpose.

It doesn’t have to be used as a national health solution. This is because centrally planned systems, as mentioned in a previous blog, can lead to inefficiencies.

It would need to be localized in order to make the system easier to maintain and be updated with contact details.  This especially when information can change on a weekly or monthly basis.

Naturally, and for decades, health insurance companies have utilized card systems to document patient visits to practitioners. This also helps you and practice to easily claim back medical costs.

But this only serves a singular function and is laborious to run. What is being proposed in this blog post is something to resolve this in a more secure and decentralised manner.

Application and security

Cloud security has become a huge requirement and will be a necessity for all businesses and services in the very near future. Europe, for instance, is implementing compliance laws for storage of data under its new GDPR regulation.

Countries like Sweden also have similar compliance laws to handle financial (with a lot of  banking going mobile) and medical data stored in the cloud.

So, security would become less of a concern for businesses when it comes to data storage and automated CRM systems in the future.

Shopping and housing convenience

The burden of shopping can also be alleviated with initiatives such as cashless processes. We first saw this introduced in Asia (China) and now adopted in the West through Amazon’s new cashless´ and cashier-less grocery stores.

While shoplifters might not see the innovation in this ‘new method’ of shopping; it saves you time spent queueing to pay and will invariably help resolve the scourge of shoplifting.

It will, however, require more reliance on technology for surveillance, to monitor and track the scanning of the goods and keep a database of records on a server.

This helps you with the inventory management and other back-office processes and is managed by an automated ERP solution (and not a person).

smart-home-3096219_640We are still waiting for massive roll-outs of the so-called smart houses equipped with smart chips that help regulate temperature, turn off energy-consuming devices when not in use.

Some are even equipped with fridges that remind you when food is expiring or simply needs to be replaced.

Designing such systems would naturally require careful observation into the various steps needed to reach the desired result. Details in every step from how you go from point A (selecting a product); to point Z.

Point Z being you walking out of the shop with a fully paid item. All without using cash or the need for a cashier.

Tweaking the solution

The system analyst’s job would be to engage or even simulate the processes using different test subjects and not just the best practice.

There is the possibility that you might forget to pay for the milk after checking out of a security area. That could result in an embarrassing scenario for all.

These are just two examples of countless scenarios that can help us benefit from the use of automation and AI.

There are many other subtle examples such as in the motor industry. This includes the use of computers to diagnose a ‘sick car’.

There can be a solution for every bottlenecking problem. Addressing this is now has become a new field of study. Computerisation and the use of robotics to handle manual labour and repetitive blue-collar jobs will be new highly lucrative career paths.

Many new start-ups already exist purely to develop system automation.

Welcome to the future!