Many small businesses face the dilemma: How to enable employees to share documents, communicate and collaborate on projects and present a professional well organized image to clients. Managed I.T. infrastructure is simply an expense they is way out of the scope for many companies. Google solves this problem with it’s new enterprise level cloud computing product, Google Apps. Cloud computing is the latest industry buzzword that simply means using software as a service where the programs and files are stored on internet servers and are accessed through a web browser. This eliminates the need for an I.T. department and costly hardware.
Fast paced business environments need access to their data at all times and Google Apps allows users to share contacts, calendars, and email in sync from any web browser or smart mobile phone. If you have ever worked in a large corporation you are familiar with Microsoft Outlook and share point which requires hardware and support within the infrastructure to run the applications. Outlook has big learning curve for new users and is often buggy and hard to setup to work properly. Google Apps is as easy to use as their popular Gmail. In fact it runs on the same interface with the only difference being you can brand it with your own company’s logos and identity.
To set it up on your domain you simply need access to your hosting providers dns and mx records. Your web host can help you with this or you can hire someone to set it up for you. Once you have configured your web host you access your interface by going to www.mail.yourdomain.com and log in just as you would on Gmail. You can then ad users to your account, set up calenders and share your contacts. To allow syncing with your mobile phone, Google provides a link to install the app on Blackberry’s, Iphone, Android, and other popular smart phones.
There are two versions of the product available, the enterprise version cost $50 a year per user and allows greater security and the ability to use and integrate third party applications. The standard version which I am using is free for up to 25 users and has many of the same features. Go to Google Apps for Small Business to get started or learn more.
For all of my website customers, I will be offering installation and configuration of the product as part of the hosting plan. It’s great way to be productive and save money in the current economy.