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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Google Apps & Office 365: the future for SMB email?

I have asked this many times in the last few years, will Google Apps or Office 365 take over from Exchange Server for most Small to Medium business?

Well if you define an SMB as under 250 users which is Googles delimiter then I think it may make a significant impact. People like a simple life, we rarely ask for extra complexity in anything we do, would you buy a car and ask for the most complicated controls or the one that is simple and easy to find the air con and sat nav?

So I see people wanting simple, what's more simple than a service that costs a flat fee per month with no contract and no hardware outlay. Well, perhaps that is right, SaaS is simple and all you need is a browser and away you go.

But is this the full story? In the last three years I have seen computer hardware become something so reliable we don't really think about it anymore. OK so we get techs to set them up and to install all our apps, but they don't go wrong as much anymore, it's just the software that causes us hassle now.

So if we move to Google Apps surely all our problems go away?

Yes and no, I see users able to work anywhere, on any device, SaaS enables this and I do it myself. I use my iPad as much as my laptop running Windows 7 as I do my iPhone.

I use Basecamp, Zendesk, Highrise, Sharepoint, Log Me In and GFI RM. I love my SaaS applications but I still have to manage my data and what I do with it.

I cannot do all my job on a tablet, it just doesn't suit some work, I would not want to prepare a Visio diagram on it, nor would I want to write a full IT audit on it either. I need my laptop for some work and I still need Windows, it's familiar and I know it well. When I just need to work, I need something I know I can use and that's why Windows is going to be here for a while yet.

So what's this got to do with your posts title? Well, what I mean is that just because someone moves to SaaS does not mean the problems of IT go away, users need help, printers jam, emails get missed, files are overwritten by accident. IT support goes on.

What is important is how you show this value in your role as an MSP to your customers. If you fear SaaS and dismiss it, the bottom liners will win and move away from your on premise world of servers and save £££ by buying Googles dream.

When they want to migrate Outlook to Gmail then who helps? When user need help with Gmail because they spent 10 years with Outlook and now are lost, who can they turn to?

You, the Google apps experts! Because you know Gmail your HelpDesk is invaluable. You show the customer value and because you can help them migrate from Outlook you make the SaaS dream work. Without you the dream fails to deliver.

It doesn't matter where technology goes, it will always need experts who understand how it works and how to use it to benefit a business. This is what MSPs need to be doing.

I have been providing business intelligence to my customers for many years now, I understand all the
aspects of what they do and how they do it.

If you break fix and are just another supplier then Google Apps et al will take your customers from you. If you know your customers true needs you will find healthy and happy future for the MSP.

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