We are yet to see the "push factor" from Enterprises on using Google Apps for Domains. Enterprises are concerned about infringing their privacy & confidential information. Also, big companies that pilot Google Apps are still in that phase, and not able to make a decision about rolling out across the company. The following are five reasons why I think Exchange Hosting is still better than Google Apps:
- Trust - Exchange Hosting Providers have to go through various certifications before they can provide services. One such key certification is "Microsoft Exchange Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA)", if they don't have this SPLA, they are not authorized to sell hosted exchange services. There are many other certifications (e.g., SaaS etc) these providers usually go through which helps them build more & more credibility with utmost trust. So Exchange Hosting is more credible with strong SLA resulting 24x7 support, certifications & well controlled Partnership agreement with Microsoft (SPLA).Google's current support modeling is very poor and can hardly gain trust of the enterprises. SLA is available only for Google Premium Edition. The SMEs that use Standard Edition have to use it at their own risk and education institutes get the same treatment. So the enterprise which pilots Google Apps will remain in that phase for a longer period.
- Less Risks - Due to stringent guidelines from Microsoft SPLA, the service provider needs to track downtime, provide monthly reports (or real-time status reports online), and automatically credit accounts for any months where the service provider is out of compliance according to the terms of SLA. Definitely this is less risk for customers.With Google Apps, companies will not like the idea of putting their valuable information on Google's Public Servers. Especially, SMEs that prefer to use Google Apps Standard Edition will have to compromise with uncertainty & Risks to themselves.
Support - Live & knowledgeable support staff assists customers 24x7x365. Most of the Certified Provider's Service Level Agreements (SLA) provide Hosted Exchange Service availability of 99.9%, measured on a monthly basis which is less than 42 minutes of downtime per month & less than 9 hours per year.
Google support is not based on any SLA (except for the Premium Edition). Again use it at your own risk.
Alternatives & Value additions - With Exchange Providers, customers can determine the level of High Availability & Fault Tolerance features based on the criticality of their business needed. They can also choose the preferred method of hardware procurement (lease/own) and various other things (e.g., backup, protocol, regular data center tour etc).
Google does not have an Appliance model for Google Apps. This would have been an alternative to those who do not have trust in Google Public Server. Google Apps does not offer offline email access in Gmail; the workaround is to forward Gmail to another email client.
Wireless Features - Exchange Wireless Features are far ahead of Google in terms of Push mails. It can provide "anywhere-anytime-any device" access to email, calendars, contacts & Instant Messaging with support for a wide variety of devices.Google Apps' inability to sync with handhelds such as ActiveSync, BlackBerry and Good shows that Google's solution is weak. Through Google has a partnership with LG to bundle Google Apps on its mobile devices, it's targeting public users and not Enterprises.
Google consistently failed to market this solution to small businesses, excluding some small businesses who think of Google as being an advertising spot. Microsoft established huge credibility with small businesses looking for a hosted solution. Companies always preferred 24x7 phone support as a primary method to get issues sorted out instead of submitting problems via a form. This tests users' patience and compromises their productivity. This could be one of the strong reasons why 60% of larger companies worldwide are still using Microsoft Exchange.
Google's new acquisition Postini offers more hosted security & compliance for Gmail, Gtalk & other Google web based applications, but we are yet to see if enterprises will take this seriously or not.