Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Discussions about Cloud Computing. The myths, the facts, and how organizations can adopt it to their needs.


In a previous post, I wrote about Google Apps and how it was a viable business and non-profit solution.  Office365 is a cloud offering from Microsoft that integrates the Office suite of products that have become commonplace in many organizations with powerful cloud-based collaboration capabilities.  While the applications in Google Apps are good enough for many organizations, the Microsoft suite of Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Outlook are much more powerful and use formats that are well understood and used by most employees.  A real consideration for any organization is the learning curve in adopting other products.  While it is true, strictly on a cost-basis, that Office365 subscriptions may be more expensive than Google Apps, the productivity and training need to be factored in.  It doesn’t do much good to theorize about how people ought to embrace open office or libre office or Google Apps products.  Cost is cost.  If one loses productivity or has to expend money to train an employee who is unfamiliar with a product then it will ultimately be an expense.

For non-profits, Microsoft has made their offering very attractive.  They have a web-only seat that is free for non-profits.  That is to say that the seat comes with no installed software but access to Office for the Web.  Office for the Web includes Word, Excel, and Powerpoint in a web interface that is, for all intents and purposes, the same user experience as on a desktop client.  It blows Google Apps out of the water in this case.  It is a powerful tool for collaborating on documents in lieu of sending emails and the user utilizes a product that he or she is already accustomed to.  For non-profits that desire to have desktop clients, for $2/month/user the organization can install Office Professional Plus which consists of Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Publisher, Outlook, and OneNote.

Central to Office365 is OneDrive and OneDrive for business.  It is not only a “Dropbox-like” feature where the user’s data is in the Cloud but it enables the Office for the Cloud applications I described.  OneDrive for business is a collaborative Sharepoint enabled feature that permits many powerful workflow activities within an organization.

In short, I’m a fan of both Office365 and Google Apps but I prefer Office365 for anything but the most basic of Office workflow situations.

Google Apps

I’ve been a huge fan of Google Apps for about 8 years now.  What is it?  In a nutshell, it’s all the Google Applications one is accustomed to when they sign up for a GMail account (i.e. GMail, Calendar, Drive, Groups, etc) but the organization has the ability to utilize it’s own domain name with these services.

Why is this useful for small businesses or non-profits?  Because most businesses and non-profits are not in the IT business.  IT is a tool that they use but they don’t want either the overhead or expense of maintaining an IT backend to provide communication and collaboration capabilities for their staff.  It’s a breed of Cloud Computing known as Software-as-a-Service (aka SaaS) where Google provides a stable and (relatively) secure backend while the only administration necessary is the creation of user accounts and other relatively non-complex administrator actions.

Many are accustomed to the GMail interface and Google Apps permits the organization to “skin” their Email to add their own logo in lieu of the standard GMail logo but the operation is pretty much the same.  Google has great spam filtering and the organization gets the benefit of a worlclass IT staff protecting its communications and collaboration.

Shared Calendars are part of the overall package along with a number of other applications that can be enabled or disabled by the organization.  Some useful applications include:

Groups:  Permits a forum or email list capability for members internal and external to your organization.

Drive:  I’m a big fan of Google Drive for businesses and non-profits.  Email is such a poor medium for sharing and collaborating on documents.  Not only does Google Drive have its own variants of Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentation software that have become more powerful as the years pass, but it permits the sharing of Microsoft or Adobe PDF documents.

I am a board member on several non-profits that utilize Google Docs.  We have used Google Docs for the maintaining of official minutes with the ability to share documents and even co-edit them on the fly.  We have also used the Google Spreadsheets to plan major symposia involving hundreds of participants.

There is a bit of a “getting used” to Google Drive and the other Apps for persons accustomed to the Microsoft suite of applications.  It may be that Office365 is a better choice for some organizations for that very reason as those applications from Microsoft are much more powerful and tend to be what most people are accustomed to.  I’ll discuss Office365 in another upcoming post but Google Apps is a great choice for small business and non-profits who need very few bells and whistles and it is extremely easy to administer.

Google Apps for non-profits is free to any 501c(3) organization which is another great feature.

Setting up Google Apps for your business or non-profit requires some knowledge of DNS and navigating the internals of the system.  If you need assistance setting up Google Apps for your business or non-profit please use the Contact Form and we can discuss the pros and cons for your organization and what would be involved in the adoption of the solution.