Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace

Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace

Microsoft and Google for long have been competing on the productivity suite and collaboration space ever since Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace were launched in 2010 and 2011 respectively. What started as business email, cloud storage, productivity apps and communication and messaging tool are now enterprise grade digital workspace solutions that tick all the top-level boxes on your company’s communications and productivity checklist. Considering both these companies are leader in cloud platform, it is imperative that the underlying infrastructure is highly reliable, resilient and globally available.

While the two companies have strived hard to dominate the market, they have taken distinctly different approach towards building their platform.

Microsoft has positioned its flagship desktop and server products with their cloud equivalent thus retaining the user experience and the functionality intact to a greater intent when the users move to the cloud. The back-end services, including Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Teams, offer an easy migration path for organizations ready to move their on-premises servers to the cloud. Employees can access those services using familiar desktop apps like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, or they can use web-based alternatives. This also includes Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project and many other SKU that were available as desktop version and are now available on cloud as service.

Google on other hand has always been cloud native and positioned themselves as “Born in the Cloud”. The entire platform can be run using a browser as there are no desktop components available (other than file stream). This includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. When used with Google’s Chrome browser, those apps support offline storage of email and documents. Google has also introduced Google Meet and Google Chat (redesigned from its predecessor Hangout Meet and Hangout Chat) to complete with Microsoft Teams.

Both services, in addition to the above functionality, offer services like Mobile Device Management, Conditional Access Management, Data Loss Prevention and Multi Factor Authentication (the service availability may differ based on plans purchased). They also offer Single Sign On functionality to use their identity to login into other SAAS applications.

The two platforms offer intuitive and admin friendly web console with Microsoft also providing shell access to Microsoft 365 using PowerShell that allows administrators to do maintenance activity both via web or PowerShell.

Lets look at the product variants in detail for both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.

Microsoft, just like its desktop variants and its licensing strategy has various permutations and combinations when it comes to Microsoft 365 Licensing plan.

Home Segment

  • Microsoft 365 Family – One convenient subscription for up to 6 people. Includes premium Office apps, up to 6TB of cloud storage – 1 TB per person – and advanced security for all your devices
  • Microsoft 365 Personal – One convenient subscription that includes AI-powered apps, 1 TB of cloud storage and advanced security for all your devices.

Small Business Segment

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic – Best for businesses that need easy remote solutions, with Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, and Office Online (desktop versions not included). This includes hosting an email with a 50 GB mailbox, Store and share files with 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage and Host online meetings and video calls for up to 300 users with Microsoft Teams.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard – Everything in Microsoft 365 Business Basic plus Best for businesses that need full remote work and collaboration tools including Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, business email, and premium Office applications across devices. Get fully installed and always up-to-date versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote for Windows or Mac (plus Access and Publisher for PC only) along with Install the Office apps on up to 5 PCs or Macs per user1
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium – Best for businesses that require secure, remote work solutions with everything included in Business Standard, plus advanced cyberthreat protection and device management. Configure security features and settings on Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices running iOS or Android® with an easy-to-use setup wizard as well as Help protect against sophisticated threats hidden in email attachments and links, and get cutting-edge defenses against zero-day threats, ransomware, and other advanced malware attempts with Microsoft Defender for Office 365
  • Microsoft 365 Apps – Best for businesses that need Office apps across devices and cloud file storage. Business email and Microsoft Teams not included.

Enterprise Segment

  • Microsoft 365 E3 – Get best-in-class productivity apps combined with core security and compliance capabilities for your enterprise.
  • Microsoft 365 E5 – Get best-in-class productivity apps and advanced security, compliance, voice and analytical capabilities for your enterprise.
  • Microsoft 365 F3Formerly Microsoft 365 F1 Empower your Firstline workforce with productivity apps and cloud services that allow them to do their best work.

The above SKUs were designed keeping in mind differentiating between small business and enterprises to provide better pricing and flexibility. In addition to the above, there are separate SKUs that can be clubbed with lower SKUs like Enterprise Mobility + Security, Azure AD P1, Azure AD P2, Advance Threat Management, Intune License, etc. along with independent SKUs like Exchange Online Plan 1+,  SharePoint Online Plan 1+, etc. to provide bare minimum functionality to users.  

Google Workspace, on other hand has kept their SKU offerings simple as the offerings are much targeted towards small business and emerging enterprises.

Business Starter – Custom and secure business email, with 30 GB cloud storage per user and 100 participant video meetings.

Business Standard – Everything in Business Starter plus 2TB of Cloud Storage Space and 150 participant video meetings + recording.

Business Plus – Everything in Business Standard plan plus eDiscovery, retention, 250 participant video meetings + recording, attendance tracking, 5 TB cloud storage per user, and Enhanced security and management controls, including Vault and advanced endpoint management

Enterprise – Custom and secure business email + eDiscovery, retention, S/MIME encryption with 250 participant video meetings + recording, attendance tracking, noise cancellation, in-domain live streaming and As much storage as you need. Also includes, Advanced security, management, and compliance controls, including Vault, DLP, data regions, and enterprise endpoint management

Google has similar additional SKUs like Chrome Enterprise, Google Drive Plan, Cloud Identity Premium, Enterprise Voice, etc. to club with lower SKUs. At the outset, there is a vast difference in offerings between the two organizations but it is notable that there is only cloud edition available for G Suite offerings except Google Drive Sync which allows files to be available on your device

The pricing of Google Workspace Plan starts from USD 6 – USD 25 while the pricing of Microsoft 365 Plan starts from USD 5 – USD 57 simply because Microsoft allows you to combine different plans on a single subscription while Google has limited options available to combine multiple plans on a single subscription. The details of the Google Workspace Subscription is available here. And the details of Microsoft 365 Subscription is available here.

Depending upon the plan you choose, Microsoft 365 subscription at the minimum includes:

  • Exchange Online email hosting with a maximum inbox size of 50 or 100GB
  • Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
  • A minimum of 1TB of OneDrive for Business file storage per user
  • SharePoint Online team sites
  • HD video conferencing
  • Online meetings (Skype Meeting Broadcast or Microsoft Teams live events)
  • Secure messaging and collaboration (Microsoft Teams)
  • Security and administrative controls

And for G Suite, All plans at the minimum include: 

  • Gmail for Business
  • Meet (video and voice conferencing)
  • Chat (secure messaging)
  • Shared calendars
  • Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
  • Keep (shared notes)
  • Forms (survey builder)
  • Sites (website builder)
  • Currents (the replacement for Google+ for Google Workspace)
  • At least 30GB of cloud file storage (Google Drive)
  • Security and administrative controls

Microsoft and Google both provide comprehensive roadmaps for their platforms that can be access on Microsoft 365 Roadmap and Google Workspace Roadmap.

The following image depicts key comparison of workloads on Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. If you need a detailed comparison on workloads across different SKUs, I would be happy to provide those as well.

If your organization uses mixed array of desktop and laptop devices like Windows 10 and Mac that are company owned or BYOD(“Bring Your Own Device”), Microsoft 365 gives you tools to leverage your existing devices and even manage them remotely for security and compliance. On the other hand, if you are looking for a cloud only version of productivity suite, Google Workspace will be an ideal fit.

It may be overwhelming to decide which plan suits your business and your IT vision.

As a Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace Specialist I help several small business and enterprises choose the right product and the right plan for their business. If you are in process of evaluating or migrating to the above platform, please use the contact form and I would be happy to help you with the evaluation process.

Google Workspace Replacement

Google Workspace Replacement

Google Workspace for long has been the de-facto collaboration and communication tool for small and medium businesses as well as emerging enterprises. Being an intuitive tool to both configure and use, it did not require too much of information technology support oversight. But as the world started moving towards remote working, their need to add security and governance to their data increased multifold and so did convenient to use single sign on and multi factor authentication. as well as managing BYOD and Company owned devices.

While these organizations were looking for such functionalities within Google Workspace, they realized significant that they would need to either to the highest version of Google Workspace, or purchase addition SKU, or move to a different operating systems to address these concerns.

During a recent survey I conducted with several enterprises, and small businesses, I found the following were the reasons to look for an alternative to Google Workspace Replacement (G Suite Replacement)

Price Change

Jan 2019, Google announced a price change for Google Workspace SKU, which, while it was not very significant, it did impact the overall Total Cost of Ownership for Google Workspace. G Suite Basic was increased to USD 6 from USD 5, G Suite Business was increased to USD 12 from USD 10, while keeping the G Suite Enterprise licensing rates same.

Product Offering

And then in October 2020, Google announced another significant change to Google Workspace by adding new subscription family similar to Microsoft 365 to address different segments of customers.

  • Business family—For smaller businesses, Google introduced tailored offerings that make it easy and cost-effective to get started with Google Workspace—including best-in-class collaboration and productivity tools, security protections, and administrative controls.
  • Enterprise family—For larger businesses, Google introduced a set of offerings with additional productivity features, enterprise-grade administrative controls, and their most advanced security and compliance capabilities, available at both the team and organization level.

However, this impacted functionality on few product editions

  1. Vault – Vault is an information governance and eDiscovery tool for Google Workspace. With Vault, you can retain, hold, search, and export users’ Google Workspace data. Vault was initially available in G Suite Business Edition for 12 USD but now has been moved to Google Workspace Business Plus Edition which is now a 18 USD plan.
  2. No More Unlimited Plans – As the following table depicts, several unlimited functionality with respect to storage or number of objects has been capped.

3. No Slack or Teams Equivalent – While Google Workspace introduced Rooms, The main difference between both apps is that Rooms works in threads, which means anyone in the team can start a thread about a specific matter. Everybody else will answer on it, centralizing the communication. However, Channels are more persisitent and is continuous, and threads can be created on specific messages that people sent.

Lack of Enterprise Scale

Both Emerging Enterprises and Large Enterprises have different needs when it comes to security and end point management. And while Microsoft 365 has different SKU options around device management using Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility & Security, as well as CASB solutions like Microsoft Cloud App Security and Microsoft Defender, Google’s Chrome Enterprise and BeyondCorp significantly lacks these functionality that’s meets to these demands.

Lack of Multi Product Edition Functionality on Single Tenant

There are situations where small and medium businesses, as well as enterprises would need to cross match different SKU to cater different persona of people, Google Workspace hasn’t made that functionality available to consumers. Unless you are working directly with Google or a Google Partner on a significant number of licenses, you cannot, at will, choose to use Google Workspace Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus and Enterprise on a single tenant even across different organizational units.

Given these parameters, while Small & Medium Businesses are still coping up with these changes, emerging enterprises are evaluating Google Workspace Replacement to address their ever growing business needs. And to address these GAPs, it is imperative that both Small & Medium Business as well as Emerging Enterprises identify strategies to mitigate or replace Google Workspace gaps with scalable product stack. The following strategies are available when planning to migrate away from Google Workspace

  1. Migrate to Microsoft 365
  2. Hybrid Deployment with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
  3. Hybrid Deployment with Google Workspace and third party product stack in categories like Security, Device Management, Identity & Access Management, SIEM & CASB.

I work with several small businesses and enterprises to help them build a clear strategy for identifying Google Workspace replacement. You can engage my services by purchasing the product below.

Cyber Security for children during study from home

Cyber Security for children during study from home

Hoping all my readers are healthy and safe from Covid-19 situation. With the current lock down in many countries, we have seen that not only commercial establishments have established work from home for their employees and other staff members, but also schools have enabled study from home where students are asked to have classes from home via telepresence tools like Microsoft TeamsZoom & Google Hangout.

This year, while many of us are confined to our homes, protecting our communities from COVID-19, and relying on our home networks more than ever it seemed especially important to write this blog post during these troubled times it will help provide a bit of peace of mind for households everywhere.

While this opens up different arenas for students to continue their learning from home during this lock down, it exposes children to cyber predators— people who search online for other people in order to use, control, or harm them in some way, cyber bullies — the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person, often anonymously and dangerous online games like Blue Whale and similar games that promote self harm. Also, most teenagers are baited to work with illegal click farms to earn money since it needs a phone or computer with decent internet connection only.

This blog post discusses about how parents and children should work together to understand and address the cyber security issues and ensure that children are safe and away from harms way when spending their studying or leisure time online.

Parents

  1. Start with establishing screen time for your kids. Establish clear boundary between study/learning screen time vs entertainment.
  2. Keep a check on all email accounts used by your kids, especially the ones that include online communication functionality. Like gmail/hangouts, outlook/skype, etc
  3. Keep a check on how many social media accounts are created by your kids. Most kids have multiple Facebook accounts separated for friends and family. Ensure that you are passive part of these networks to monitor activity.
  4. DMs or Direct Messages should be audited periodically. This functionality is available on major social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for starters.
  5. Ensure that their phones and computers are always updated with latest system updates.
  6. Software downloads — Have them avoid unnecessary software downloads, and only download software from reputable sources. Although free games for kids may be fun, they could contain malware or viruses that can steal information off the device.
  7. Use webcam covers to cover the laptop cameras and ensure that they flip open only when they need to do video calls or conferencing.
  8. Use parental control apps for Computers and Mobile Phones/Tablets. AppleAndroid & Microsoft have some amazing tools to enforce parental control on their devices.
  9. Enable activity logging on your wifi routers. For devices like Netgear, there is enough documentation available or if your wifi router is provided by your ISP, ask them to activate it for you.
  10. If you are families with DNS configuration, use Cloudflare DNS Resolverto secure your internet access from malware and adult content.
  11. Don’t share Wi-fi Password with your kids. Or if your Wifi Router has ability to create multiple profiles, create a separate limited profile for your kids. Get Wifi routers like Amazon Netgear Nighthawk for enhanced security.

Children

  1. Develop Awareness – Talk to your parents or elder siblings with considerable knowledge in tech. Gain basic understanding of cyber bullying, netiquette, virus protection to identify wrong doings over the internet.
  2. Use Strong Passwords. Change your passwords when you receive an account from school. Gamefy your password creation process. Never use your personal information like date/year of birth, etc as passwords. Don’t use your best friends name as your password. Try keeping easy to remember passwords like !Like3Doughnuts (I Like 3 Doughnuts) or D0ntP00Phere (Don’t Poop Here) or something funny that you can remember. Share passwords with your parents or legal guardian or your elder siblings. Never share passwords with outsiders, friends or even relatives without first checking with your parents.
  3. Don’t open emails from strangers or from email address with names of your parents but email address not belonging to your parents. E.g. if you see an unusual request from your mom or dad via email with their name, validate the email it has come from. If the email is not recognized, call them and verify. Also don’t click any unfamiliar links or download files as attachments.
  4. Never accept invites from unknown people on Social Networking sites like Facebook or Instagram. Engage with Direct Messages only from friends you know. If you feel someone is trolling you or cyber bullying you in school, inform immediately to your parents and school teacher. Online Trolls and Cyberbullies are harmless once they are exposed to many people.
  5. Device Safety — Never leave your device unattended, log off or shut down when not using the device. Never allow others to connect to your device via Bluetooth or AirDrop nor share your device password with anyone other than your parent or guardian.
  6. Contests, Clubs or Challenges — Don’t enter any contest, challenges or clubs that are not associated to your school or community and even then, check with your parents or guardian when doing so. Most of these contests or clubs retrieve your personal information in pretext to malicious activities.

These are simple and easy steps to follow to ensure that your children are protected online. Encourage your kids to be cyber security champions and ask them to share these best practices to their immediate friends and classmates to gain confidence. You have an important role in protecting the internet. Play your part !!!