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Well for the first time in as long as I remember, it looks like Microsoft has a better deal than just about anyone in the cloud. We’ve been looking at moving off of our Kerio installation. It has served us well for several years and we run Mac Office and things have been pretty good. 
For newer companies, we’ve been using Mykolab.com and that is private and been working well. And been using Google Hangout, Uberconference and Skype for communications as well as the free Dropbox for sharing files.
For applications, it has been Mac Mail, Calendar and Contacts and that seems to play pretty well with Google Contacts and Kerio.
But as we contemplate going into the cloud completely there are two really good things to have we have to solve two big problems:

  1. Shared Calendars. MOst of the solutions seem to work well with Mail and contacs are not really shared, but calendars are a problem. Kerio handles this well and we’ve used Google as a backend and that seems to work and then there is Microsoft.
  2. Shared files. There are so many different options out there from dropbox to box to google and microsoft, but they do cost money and it is amazing how 5GB doesn’t go so far when sharing.

  3. Security and privacy. Related issues, but we don’t want the service provider to end up owning our confidential data.

What are some of our non-problems:

  1. Microsoft Office versions. For the Mac, they are so infrequent, that it doesn’t make much sense to buy the latest version. 2011 was the last and 2016 is the one coming up.
  • Conferencing. I’m amazing by how good uberconference, google hangout and skype are for this.

  • Directory. There are certainly enterprise issues, but in a small business, they are not so big. 

  • There is much written, but I read the google EULA at least for Google Apps for Work and it seems to have the underlying company owning the data but does say they will inject ads etc which is a little scary.

  • So what are some solutions

    1. Mykolab. I liked these guys because they are in Switzerland and have strong privacy rules. The main problem is the calendaring just doesn’t seem to work well and doesn’t seem to like shared calendars which is pretty important here. They are relatively expensive, but they are all open source and inspectable and you can eventually run your own server.
  • Office 365. They have a dizzying array of SKUs, but for a Mac shop, the ones that bundle Office don’t seem super useful with the 5 year upgrade cycle they have. The basic $6/month ($5/month if you sign up for a year) seems pretty good. You get 50GB email inboxes and it works with IMAP, etc. Probably the biggest win is 1TB of online storage per person which is really nice. Finally, their privacy policy is much stronger than Googles. They say they won’t read your mail, but of course who knows about that 🙂 It is surprising but if you already own office licenses, the biggest difference seems to be the amount of online storage. The lowest level seems good enough and you get 1TB per person! For $12/month, you get the equivalent of always up to date Office desktop licenses.

  • Google Apps. At first I thought these were the winners, but the $5/month plan (no commitment) but they do say they will read your email and contents and they only have 30GB per user. There is a $10/month plan that gives you unlimited storage (which is not bad considering that Dropbox charges $15/user/month for the same thing). So the big difference seems to be whether you need truly unlimited data.

  • In the end we’ve been using non-Microsoft for so long, that it probably makes sense to use Office365 on a monthly basis just to see how well it works.

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