Archive for August, 2008

Aug 25th, 2008 1 Comment

Utilities for getting the most out of Google Apps

Last week I wrote about Google Apps and what a great tool it can be for small to mid-size companies.  Today I’ll give you a list of add-ons to help integrate your Google calendar and contacts with your computer and phone.

It’s really ridiculous that these utilities are even necessary, but the fact is that two of the most common applications of computers and cell phones, that is the humble calendar and address book, are the most difficult applications to share between different devices.  Every device and application has its own calendar and rarely do applications want to share.

Fortunately, Google provides a convenient way to connect from a variety of devices.  So using Google as the "hub" or main repository finally gives us some nice flexibility.
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Aug 18th, 2008 2 Comments

Google Apps is a great deal for small business

Managing e-mail, contacts and calendars are some of the most fundamental tasks in any business.  Yet even today it’s surprisingly difficult to set up an integrated system for a typical small business.  E-mail is probably the easiest, but there are competing standards for calendar information and contacts, and several different ways to handle security.  And if your company has a mix of Windows and Apple computers, and different phone models it’s very time consuming and training/support-intensive to get everyone working together.

Microsoft’s Exchange Server, combined with Microsoft Outlook is the most common way to integrate contacts, calendars and e-mail, but it’s a very expensive solution and requires a fair bit of technical skill to set up and maintain.  Very good, and less expensive, replacements for Exchange have appeared (the best is probably Zimbra , which was acquired by Yahoo! recently) but these still require hardware and technical support.

The new trend, which goes by such catchy names as "cloud computing" or "SaaS" offers a very appealing solution, particularly for small to mid-size companies.  Cloud computing, or Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to the concept of having programs out in the "cloud" of the Internet as opposed to having the software on your personal computer (or your company’s servers).  For example, your calendar would be stored in the cloud, on somebody else’s servers where you can reach it from any computer and easily share it with other people.  Turning over your calendar to "the cloud" might sound dangerous, but it’s no different from the way e-mail works, and everyone has come to accept those risks.
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