… it’s definitely the way forward but there’s no need to jump in with both feet.

Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange Online, iCloud, Office 365, DropBox – they all have their plus points and, for a small company with a good FTTC broadband, the ‘Cloud’ can really simplify small business IT, especially for email services which rely on the Internet in any case. For nearly every small company, with less than 50 staff, it no longer makes sense to manage email on an in-house mail server.

MICROSOFT OFFICE 365 or GOOGLE APPS for BUSINESS

Anyone running MS Small Business Server will quickly find out that it takes a lot of maintenance to keep it running properly. And they may not know it yet but disaster recovery from SBS failure can be a total nightmare. Cloud based email management with Microsoft Exchange Online or Google Apps for Business will provide a better alternative for nearly every small company. MS Exchange Online actually works great on the Mac but be warned, it will only run smoothly with Microsoft’s Office Suite and Outlook 2011. It won’t sync properly with iCal or Contacts which makes Apple Mail less than useful. For Mac users Google Apps for Business is a total solution, mainly because iCal and the Apple Address book can sync properly with it.

  • DropBox, Google Drive, MS Sky Drive
    Allow you to share files without a server and include some great features to track changes and manage storage.
  • Google Docs
    Great for collaboration on simple spreadsheets, presentations and Word files but I’d suggest you may want to leave the bulk of your documents on your server.

What I don’t like about Office365 is that Microsoft have designed it to be an all or nothing experience which works well with MS Office but refuses to play with anything else. Something which I think most Mac users are not yet comfortable with. As usual, Mac users will feel like second class citizens in Microsoft’s world where, for instance, Windows PowerShell is required for some fairly basic and fundamental operations. Also Word, Excel and PowerPoint are so over-engineered have such a rich feature set that transferring them to 100% compatible, on-line applications seems to present a problem, they run very slow compared to Google Apps.