Google Apps = Dissapointment…

Unfortunately, after several months of trying to get Google Apps to work for our company as a “winning” cloud solution, I am a bit sad to say that Google Apps still isn’t yet “there” as a business solution (or more notably, a direct replacement for our Lotus Notes system).

For example:

1) The migration toolset that we purchased (PCVita) migrated everything fairly well. However, the time-per-mailbox was somewhat unacceptable. My mailbox (which only has data from 2009 till now) took well over 6 hours to migrate. There is also a limited number of threads that can be run at any given moment. So, this means telling our customers (who usually have >50 customers). that migration will have to happen or a week or more’s time. (Note: The migration tools that Google provides do not migrate over your calendar.  Thus the need for the PCVita tool)

2) We can add a standard company-wide Address Book. Currently we have one for customers, one for Vendors, and one for “test” users. The only thing you can do in Google Apps is “share” your contacts. But this is very labor intensive to do it this way (every contact added must be manually shared – you cannot share a contact automatically).

3) We use many mail-in accounts and distribution lists to auto-process things. For example: Our support system automatically emails requests into a central queue, the notifies my team to take action. With Google Apps, you need to purchase a separate email account for this. Ok, fine. However, each email account can only have up to 5 aliases. So, if I want 1 support queue (or mail-in action queue), I can only assign it up to 3 different email addresses. Since we use mail-in queues pretty heavily, we have over 20 that we use for our customers and ourselves. So under the current restriction, I have to purchase around 5 email accounts just to handle our support needs.

4) Distribution lists are pretty much useless. In Google Apps, they provide you with Groups. However, the Groups must be manually shared (since everything is stored as Personal inside your address book), and they cannot contains external people. So you cannot include a vendor or customer within your distribution list – only internal staff.

5) GMail lacks an “All Documents” view.  I usually “look back” at my email – last week, last month, etc.  My All Documents view shows me both incoming and outgoing in chronological order.  This isn’t possible in GMail.

6)  It’s not possible to add both Attachments and Text in a Google Doc.  Its one or the other.  In Lotus Notes, we can combine these.  So for Google Docs, we need to make a new “folder” for each corresponding document in Lotus Notes.  It makes our documentation process much more complicated.

7)  You can make Forms, but you cannot add attachments to forms.

8)  There are no basic “approvals” or “FYI” type of notifications built into Google Docs – everything is a manual process.  There isn’t even an easy way to build quick Macros to do this.

9)  Many have spoken of it before, but Google Contacts is very difficult to work with.  Not just in sharing, but in utilizing it in general. 

10)  Tasks and Calendar items don’t let you store attachments within the record.

Our next step is to evaluate Microsoft BPOS.  Although I first selected Google Apps due to its iPad interface, I have been using LogMeIn more and more on my iPad.  As long as the BPOS and LogMeIn combo work well together, then I will be able to accept this as a work-around.

We’ll keep you posted…