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Why I moved from Gmail to Microsoft Exchange

Why I moved from Gmail to Microsoft Exchange

Most of you would know that there has been a war and Tech. debate raging between Microsoft Hosted Exchange and Google’s Gmail Platform for a number of years, and the decision is  an important one.

In this day and age, more and more businesses are looking at hosted communication platforms to reduce costs and ease management strains, but in my opinion, a lot of small businesses are simply following the “trend” and not doing enough of their own research into the solution. In my experience, the research stops at “Gmail is cheaper per mailbox“, but is it?

As some of you may know, on 02/11/2013 I moved our company emails from Google’s Gmail platform to Microsoft Hosted Exchange. Why did I do this? In this blog I’m going to share with you my experiences with both platforms and share with you my own thoughts on the debate.

Introduction

There is a lot more to consider than simply the “per mailbox cost” there are other important cost factors such as efficiency, reliability, loss of business profits, business image, reducing staff stress and improving staff retention. These may seem like strange things to consider when trying to decide what platform to choose, but these are the real costs that need to be factored in.

To put it simply, I learned the hard way and did not consider these factors when I decided to adopt Google’s Gmail platform.

Google Gmail did not work for my business, will it work in yours?

Below is my story, my lessons and why I found Google Gmail unsuitable for my business.

So where did it all go wrong? When I started PC Wrangler, Google Gmail seemed like a god send, all I had to do was create an account, set my MX records and I was away. I did not have to worry about finding a hosting company and spend ages finding the best rate that offered the best support. It was a very simple process, included additional benefits and only cost $5 a month per mailbox, BARGAIN!….

If only it played out better. My first major issue was when I tried to use Outlook 2013 with Google App Sync, it does not work, at all (unless you buy the pro retail version which I did not try). I spent hours attempting to get Google App Sync to play nice with Outlook 2013, all to no avail; already the expense had started adding up in lost time and productivity. After searching the net for a solution, and finding page after page of people complaining about it, I eventually found the solution to the problem! It’s not supported and in order to get it to work; I had to purchase another software package called SyncFix which solved the problem between Outlook 2013 and Google App Sync. More cost added due to the yearly license, but it solved the problem, Google App Sync installed and was working with Outlook 2013.

I then setup and a secondary Laptop that had Outlook 2010 installed, Google App Sync had no issues as Outlook 2010 is fully supported, things were starting to look up! I then configured my iPhones, all working well. I had my emails on my devices, everything appeared to be syncing, my calendars were working everything was great.

Fast forward 2 weeks…. I’m stressed and frustrated. Things were not going well at all. Google App Sync was not working 100% with either Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013. It was getting into dreadful sync loops where it would not sync and this was a big problem. Whilst it was in this loop, nothing was being sent or updated and nearly every time I opened Outlook on either device, Google App Sync would report that it had encountered an error. To fix the issue, I had to close Outlook, wait for Google App Sync to stop and reopen Outlook. Because of these issues, two very important emails were not sent on time and I lost business from it, I pressed Send, that should be the end of it. Calendar appointments were going missing. There were duplications in contacts and across all my devices, the details had slight discrepancies, probably due to the issues with Google App Sync. I found myself constantly spending time checking and double checking everything was working and checking against the Gmail Web interface. Oh well, I’m only paying $5 a month…

Things then went from bad to worse. With my constant checking I was finding issues all over the place and I still managed to lose 3 appointments. Thankfully two of the appointments were understanding but the third was critical that an IT Specialist was not able to manage his communications, and he was right! The entire saga was getting ridiculous and now my business image was being damaged. I’ll never know how much missing that appointment will cost me in immediate and ongoing sales. All of a sudden, $5 a month seemed like a bad deal considering the problems I was having and what it was starting to cost me.

Then there is the issue of *cough* support…. When I contacted Google about these issues, I was directed to a forum and told that phone support was not offered for the product, are they kidding me!?! I’m trying to run a business that is not operating as it should and I’m directed to a forum. $5 a month is starting to look like a really really bad deal now.

Even if I did not have these issues, there are still some fundamental problems I have with the platform. Some examples of these are the way they manage ‘folders’ with tags instead of actually creating true folders. The fact that my appointment categories and colour coding are not sync’ed resulting in double entry. I’m sure almost everyone out there is using colour and categories to code their appointments. And then there are the rules we create to automatically manage our emails, guess what? They don’t Sync either! So I now have this problem with my email rules being different on my devices and everything is now disorganised and hard to find. Rubbish. More time and money wasted.

Issues with privacy, all of my business contacts and dealings are on Google’s servers. Has anyone actually read the privacy terms? They of course reserve the right to change the terms at anytime and it’s well documented that the US Government has been tapped into Googles servers via the underwater fibre cables for years now. Are other Governments doing the same? Further to that, if Google win the war and most of the world adopts this platform, does that not mean that a large portion of the worlds private business dealings, private information and financial records are now conveniently located in one location? So much easier to attack one massive target than millions of tiny little targets. Centralisation of the World’s data is just a bad idea in my opinion. Just because they are Google does not make them experts in data security, how can the World be sure they can be trusted? Hell, Gmail has been hacked a number of times now and what stops Google misusing the masses of information they have already obtained? Its bad enough they use it to sell to advertisers, what else do they do with it?

I have issue with their business model. They are targeting the big companies such as Woolies, why? because they just assume that if they get those types of businesses, small business will just simply follow and they have not really done anything to earn it, especially since they offer no support. It just smacks of arrogance.

With Microsoft Hosted Exchange however, I don’t have any of these issues and concerns. Everything is Syncing beautifully across all my devices including appointment categories and colour coding as well as my email rules etc.. I no longer have duplications and I’m not wasting time double checking everything. My stress and frustration have vanished as I can trust the platform 100%. The Exchange WebApp blows Gmail out of the park, it’s feature rich and provides the same functionality and look of Outlook. Each mailbox is 25GB in size and included is a Sharepoint Site with 250MB of space so I can setup my internal Systems, Policies and Procedures that can be accessed and read by employees and contractors.

The migration was a breeze and there was no loss of data. Configuration was easy and hassle free, all it takes is some planning to manage the delay in DNS changes which is easy enough. My data is hosted in Australia, protected by Australia’s tough privacy legislation and the phone support is fantastic. For those businesses that are still uncomfortable with their data on external servers, guess what? Microsoft Exchange can be setup on your local server and you can run your mail direct from your office. If you want the best of both worlds (i.e Your server but the redundancy and security of a data centre), you can easily place your server with a data center via a Co-location plan.

Sounds great, how much does it cost?

Ok, so after all of this how much does Hosted Exchange cost? PC Wrangler is establishing its own Hosted Exchange service for customers and is currently under testing (more on that later). We all know Google costs $5 per month per mailbox. Our service will cost $8 per mailbox per month. That’s only an additional $36 a year but you actually get a service that works and feature rich. More importantly, you get immediate priority support, is that not worth $36 a year?

Conclusion

In conclusion I found the Google Gmail platform totally unsuitable. Even if it worked, there are still issues with design, concept and business model that make it a poorer choice than Microsoft Exchange. I think eventually Microsoft will win the war, the product is far superior and for some reason, Google don’t even appear interested in investing and improving their platform.

As I learnt, for the sake of a few $$$ each year, the savings with Google Gmail are not worth it and the per mailbox cost is not even something that matters. When I added up the costs I could put a figure on, the amount was staggering and would have been enough to pay for my Hosted Exchange for the next decade!

As some of my customers have already experienced themselves, Google Gmail is flawed and is in my opinion, only suitable for use with personal email and communications; it is not something I would recommend for business (at this stage), not when Microsoft Exchange is so affordable, the tiny savings are simply not worth it.

8 Responses to Why I moved from Gmail to Microsoft Exchange

  1. I look at it from a marketing point of view and it is quite simple why promote Gmail by using a name@gmail.com email address instead of promoting your own business with name@yourbusinessdomain.com.au

    Good on you Richard for making your business oriented move!

    • That’s a great point also and I might cover it in a separate post. I see a lot of businesses using @gmail.com as their official email address and have it on their business cards and other materials without realising how easy it is to setup with their own domains.

  2. Warning: Further to my post, I just found out that there is currently a high impact bug with Google App Sync:

    When you right click a senders name in an email and choose “add to contacts”, then send an email using that contact entry from the address book, the email does not send. It says it has sent and appears in the sent items in outlook, but in the web interface, the TO field is blank and the recipient never receives the email.

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