My Journey to Gmail
After three years of dipping my toes in the pool, I finally jumped in both feet first. Google has been my primary tool for web site analytics, chat/instant message, blogging, rss reader, voice/voicemail, bookmark synchronizing and search alerts. But I've been holding onto Microsoft Outlook for dear life. It was familiar but also problematic and error prone.
The straw that broke the camel's back was my last computer upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 64 bit. I realized that the need to restore my e-mail and accounts on my computer was too much of a pain. If I needed to sync my outlook contacts, it was via a usb cable, not over the wireless data network.
After configuring Google's Gmail to pull my POP3 e-mail, importing my Outlook contacts and enabling e-mails to be sent from my business e-mail, I was off and running. Google makes this process simple. The hardest part was getting use to labels versus Outlook folders. Gmail gives you the ability to label e-mails with names similar to dropping mail into folders. Rules can be set up to label e-mail as in comes in just like Outlook and archive messages do they don't show up in your inbox. E-mail searching is much faster and now have the ability to add and share multiple calendars to keep track of personal and business obligations. Google Mobile App for the blackberry allows me to sync selected calendars and contacts to my mobile device.
Google Apps comes in a business and personal usage edition. The business version cost $50 per user per year which isn't a bad price considering you get increased e-mail and file storage at 25GB of e-mail per user and 10GB storage plus 500MB per user for shared storage.
Google has had their share of outages which makes many businesses leery of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Determine your threshold for e-mail and document downtime versus your expense of hosting your own solution and software. Keep in mind that you need a good, fast internet connection, maybe two incase the first one fails. Google Apps may not be the right fit for all small businesses and should consult with your trusted technical advisor before making the switch.
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