Google Workspace vs. Microsoft Office 365

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, organizations have ramped up the priority of cloud migration.  With the need for collaboration and productivity from anywhere and any device for remote workers, businesses have accelerated the move to cloud Software-as-a-Service environments.  There are essentially two choices for cloud SaaS business-productivity and collaboration solutions: Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Microsoft Office 365. 

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Since Google G Suite’s rebranding to Google Workspace, Google has strengthened their cloud SaaS solution’s collaboration and productivity features. How does Google G Workspace compare to Microsoft Office 365?  This post will take a look at Google Workspace vs. Microsoft Office 365 and compare the features, functionality, plans, and prices between the two.

Choosing between Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365

Is there a right or wrong choice to make between Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365?  Not really.  Each business will have to evaluate the pros and cons and align their company with the particular cloud service provider that makes the most sense.  Both are compelling solutions that will no doubt allow businesses to collaborate seamlessly.  There are, of course, ways to migrate between the two different services.  If one particular cloud SaaS platform is selected, companies can migrate their services elsewhere. Take a look here:

• Office 365 to Gmail migrationOpens in a new tab.

• How to migrate Google Workspace to Microsoft 365Opens in a new tab.

It can come down to companies either being comfortable with one cloud platform or another.  If installable apps are essential, Microsoft Office 365 has the upper hand there. Google’s browser-based connectivity and apps are a bit more seamless than those with Microsoft Office 365. Both have pros and cons from a feature, pricing, and useability standpoint. 

The battle of collaboration platforms

Both Google and Microsoft have been battling for years to gain the lion’s share of cloud Software-as-a-Service needs of enterprise organizations.  With the onset of the global pandemic, enterprise organizations saw the need to accelerate their journey to the cloud, especially cloud SaaS environments.  What features and capabilities became quickly apparent with the shift to a majority remote workforce? 

Organizations with remote workers need:

1. Shared communication platforms for quick and easy communication – This includes business email and shared calendars

2. Shared storage that allows easy modifications from remote workers no matter where they are located.  It includes shared team storage as well as cloud storage for remote workers to empower productivity

3. A large number of remote employees generally needs business productivity applications – The typical documents, spreadsheets, and presentation needs

4. Collaboration-specific tools – It seems the new priority resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has been video conferencing.  Cloud SaaS environments need to have effective video communication as part of the platform.  Also, instant messaging and the ability to collaborate between applications is a must.

5. Security and compliance tools built-in – With the shift to remote employees and the increased dangers of cyberattacks resulting in cybercriminals capitalizing on the pandemic and the transition to cloud environments, organizations need the security and compliance tooling to handle the new and complex security challenges of remote work. 

No matter how you slice it, both Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 are potent cloud SaaS offerings that both offer great collaboration, business-productivity, and communication platforms. The decision may depend on what technologies businesses are currently aligned with and which platform meets the current architecture and cloud partnerships.

Microsoft has admittedly been a powerhouse in the enterprise arena, with most organizations familiar with the Microsoft Office suite of applications for decades now.  Many enterprise organizations have a longstanding relationship with Microsoft.  It includes running both Office applications and Microsoft enterprise server products in their data centers for on-premises productivity needs. 

On the other hand, Google hasn’t had a longstanding relationship with many organizations from a business productivity software perspective.  Their solution is completely web-driven and provides the ability to interact with their productivity suite using a browser only.  In a sense, Google has been playing catchup with Microsoft to build awareness of what Google Workspace offers in terms of productivity and collaboration features.  With G Suite’s rebranding to Google Workspace, Google has strengthened the platform’s collaboration and productivity in general.

Google Workspace      

The rebranding of Google G Suite to Google Workspace highlights Google’s push to create a new cloud SaaS experience that, in many ways, has been driven by the onset of the global pandemic and the need to empower remote employees.  Google is also aligning its new Google Workspace plans more in sync with Microsoft Office 365 plans.  What are the current Google Workspace plan offerings?

• Google Workspace Business Starter – $6 user/month
• Google Workspace Business Standard – $12 user/month
• Google Workspace Business Premium – $18 user/month
• Google Workspace Enterprise – $25 user/month

A few of the differences that stand out with the Google Workspace plans are as follows:

⁃ Business Starter – 100 video participants, 30 GB cloud storage per user
⁃ Business Standard – 150 video participants, 2 TB cloud storage per user
⁃ Business Plus – 250 video participants, 5 TB cloud storage
⁃ Enterprise – 250 video participants, Unlimited cloud storage

Google Workspace plan pricing

From G Suite to Google Workspace

There has been a lot of chatter around the services and features that customers coming from G Suite might lose as their accounts convert to Google Workspace.  Previously, the G Suite Business plan offered unlimited storage to customers who purchased five or more seats of the G Suite Business plan.  It could be quite a shock to current G Suite Business plan customers.  The path forward for current Google Business plan customers who are taking advantage of the unlimited storage that previously was part of the Google Business plan is unclear.

Google has been a bit unclear about G Suite Business plan customers’ path moving forward to Google Workspace plans.  As a thread here showsOpens in a new tab., it is still unclear how Google will move forward onboarding G Suite Business customers to Google Workspace plans.  For greenfield migrations to cloud SaaS, this will not affect the decision to migrate to Google Workspace.  However, it could potentially cause individual customers to look at either a different Google subscription plan or even look at Microsoft Office 365 instead.

Google Workspace services highlights

Google Workspace has created significant new integrations between Google core services now that Google Workspace is now live.  Google Workspace includes all the core productivity apps most are familiar with, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and many more.  Even though the tools are the same, Google has set out to seamlessly allow the apps to integrate much more fluidly with one another, such as the following:

• You can dynamically create and collaborate on a document with guests in a chat room

• In Docs, Sheets, and Slides, you can now preview a linked file without having to open it in a new tab

• When you type @mention someone in a document, a new Smart chip will show contact details and even suggest actions

• Meet picture-in-picture will be added to Docs, Sheets, and Slides to allow person-to-person interactions when presenting slides or sharing documents

The new brand identity change for Google Workspace highlights the new collaboration and seamless integration for customers to have a truly powerful digital workspace in which they can effectively and efficiently collaborate with team members and others.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft is all but a household name in the enterprise data center.  For decades now, Microsoft has built a brand with a foundation in the enterprise data center and corporate environments.  The Microsoft Office Suite is well known among businesses for the core productivity software tools, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, that has allowed business users on-premises to have the productivity tools needed for business-critical tasks.

Also, along with the Office Suite, Microsoft enterprise products such as Windows Server and many BackOffice products are well-known.  Examples include Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, and SharePoint.  These have powered on-premises enterprise data center communications, collaboration, and file storage.  It gives Microsoft a “leg up” in familiarity with solutions and products among enterprise customers when offering these tools and services in cloud environments.

Microsoft Office 365 provides the same Office Suite of products in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering.  Unlike Google Workspace, Microsoft also offers full standalone installations of its Office Suite of products in addition to the SaaS offering.  These tools can be installed locally on end-user devices and allow more powerful features and capabilities than the cloud counterparts.

Microsoft has a wide range of plans and pricing that can be more intimidating to understand than the Google Workspace counterparts.  To start with, Microsoft offers three plans that are primarily aimed at the smaller SMB market.  These include:

• Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5.00 user/month
• Microsoft 365 Business Standard $12.50 user/month
• Microsoft 365 Business Premium $20.00 user/month

Microsoft small business plans

In addition to the three plans listed above, Microsoft has additional plans marketed to enterprise customers.  As you can see below, the plans offered are the following:

• Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise – $12 user/month
• Office 365 E1 – $8 user/month
• Office 365 E3 – $20 user/month
• Office 365 E5 – $35 user/month

A few things to note with the enterprise plans:

⁃ Office 365 E1 plan does not allow the installation of applications on devices.  It means you need an Internet connection is required to use this plan for your business.  O365 E1 comes with 1TB of cloud storage for OneDrive for Business
⁃ With O365 E3, you get 1TB and can increase to 5TB and even 25TB storage
⁃ Office 365 E5 Advanced Threat Protection protects against the likes of phishing and zero-day malware. DLP helps to protect content as well.

Microsoft Office 365 plans for the enterprise customer

One of the extremely popular features of Microsoft Office 365 plans is Microsoft Teams.  It has seen explosive growth among customers since last year.  Teams allow Microsoft Office 365 enterprise customers to effectively meet, chat, call, and collaborate from an intuitive dashboard UI.  Team members can easily access and share posts, files, chats, video, voice, and other communication types. 

Microsoft Teams is an extremely popular component of Microsoft Office 365

Comparing Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365

Both Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 provide powerful platforms to help organizations meet the challenges of staying connected, collaborating, and getting work accomplished no matter where employees are located and what device they are using.  The rebrand from Google G Suite to Google Workspace and the added collaboration functionality has been a significant step forward for the Google cloud SaaS platform.

Google cloud tools like Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, and others are familiar tools that most have used at this point, if not in the enterprise, most certainly at a personal level.  Most will feel at home using the Google tools for collaboration, especially with the added integration between the core applications.

There is a bit of uncertainty for current G Suite customers and the functionality and limits when their accounts transition to Google Workspace.  As mentioned, Google G Suite Business offered unlimited storage for customers.  That storage limitation now is 30 GB, far under what some may be using.  Google Workspace does not provide installable applications like Microsoft Office 365.  In the day and age of cloud and Internet connectivity, this may be less important to organizations than it would have been a few years back. 

Microsoft Office 365 provides a well-known solution.  Most are familiar with Microsoft Office and the suite of apps installed and used in on-premises corporate offices for decades.  This familiarity translates into confidence with enterprise customers looking to migrate to cloud SaaS environments with the same familiarity as they are accustomed to on-premises.

Microsoft offers a wide range of plans, features, and functionality.  It can either help or hurt with enticing customers as the offerings can be intimidating and confusing.  However, the services themselves are tried and proven.  Microsoft Teams has been gaining widespread adoption this past year, especially which is a testament to the platform’s success.

Protecting your Cloud Data is Essential

No matter if migrating to Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365, protecting your data is essential.  Both Google and Microsoft fall short of providing native data protection, and both operate under the “shared responsibility model” where ultimately, you are responsible for data loss. Using a capable third-party backup and data recovery solution is essential.

It is essential to find a solution that provides both data backups and cybersecurity protection for your Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 platforms. It should offer:

• Automatic backups
• Ransomware protection
• Data sharing visibility
• Third-party apps protection
• Data encryption
• Reporting and alerting
• Compliance and regulatory restrictions

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