These days the phrase “teamwork in the cloud” makes a lot of people think of Google. But Google’s G Suite has a lot more in its portfolio than just Gmail and Google Docs - it has a potent and scalable package for businesses, the self-employed and freelancers.
For a long time, Google was only known for its search engine. That’s really changed since Gmail was released (“Google Mail”). Since it was launched in 2004, Google became the leading email provider. At the time, Google surprised us with its particularly generous storage and, above all, its many functions - and all that in the browser. Step-by-step, more services such as Google Docs or Google Drive started to appear. Google has now established itself and its services not just as a browser-based service provider, but also in the business context.
Google for businesses
What was originally offered for private users became an increasingly attractive package for businesses as well. After multiple name changes (first Google Apps for Business, then Google Apps for Work), Gmail, Google Docs and the like are now available under the name G Suite as a package that is deployable in the business environment.
At first, many scoffed at this solution. Everything in the cloud? No Office files - just text, tables and presentations in the browser? But that very focus on the cloud has advantages for many businesses, as it saves the immense expenditure on in-house infrastructure. And with Google Drive, “normal” files can also be saved to your own hard drive and synchronized with the cloud.
Even at an early stage, the cloud focus, breadth of functions and popularity of G Suite resulted in a central feature: simple but powerful sharing, viewing and group editing of content. With a simple link, users can share content to read or edit. And through the pervasiveness of Google services, permissions can often be specifically granted to Google users, be they private users or employees.
Even twelve years ago, I could edit documents together with other team members during a citizens’ journalism project who were spread far and wide across Germany. Back then, we still had to rely on Skype for video and audio communication. Later, Google had its own such services, now generically available as Google Hangouts for private users and businesses.
- Basic: Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Docs, Google Hangouts, Keep, Google+, Sites (websites), Jamboard Service (a digital and collaborative 55” whiteboard) and the user directory.
- Business: Expands the Basic package to include unlimited storage in Drive (1 TB per user if there are less than 5 users), Cloud Search, archiving for email and chat, test reports.
- Enterprise: Expands the Business package to include security, archiving and other critical functions for businesses.
You get all this for €4 (Basic), €8 (Business) and €23 (Enterprise) per user per month. Plus 44 additional apps familiar to private users, though not included (particularly with regard to their availability), can be used as normal (if made available in the administration system). Examples include Blogger, Google Books, Google Earth, Google Groups, Google Maps and YouTube.
There is also the Marketplace, with more Google apps and third party apps (e.g. Trello, Asana, various CRM systems).
All administration is done via the Admin Console in the browser. You don’t have to go searching for any configuration files or scripts. Over the years, the role-based concept has continued to develop. You can also manage licenses, devices or domains in the Admin Console, and access various evaluation and reporting functions.
For administrators in businesses who were used to combing through files, scripts, programs and dialogs (spread over dozens of servers and services) to find whatever they needed, the Admin Console is a massive relief.
G Suite for small businesses and freelancers
Changing to G Suite isn’t just worthwhile for big businesses. Thanks to the “expert-less” and (except for your device) the practically “hardware-less” implementation of G Suite, Google has produced a solution for the self-employed and small to medium-sized businesses.
When I started working for myself in 2013, I considered very carefully what I would need and which solutions would be best for me. G Suite is ideal for me because of its fixed cost of €4 per month per user and its cloud functionality. I don’t need my own infrastructure, just a stable and quick internet connection, a laptop and a smartphone. As a freelancer, the Basic version is enough for me. Plus I am familiar with Google Apps having using them for many years as a private user. The Admin Console (now) is clear, tidy and easy to use.
Even though, due to extraordinary circumstances, I also have my own “cloud server” (a NAS from Asustor) and Office 365 running, I could use G Suite to manage just about any task which is in the scope of my work.
Particularly as a freelancer working with many and varied customers and partners, I need to be able to guarantee interoperability. To me, G Suite is pretty much unbeatable. As a self-employed person, it’s a piece of cake to manage: in the Admin Console, I just activate the functions I want to use. In a business, the administrators can use the console to set exactly what individual employees need to use.
Setting up a domain for G Suite has now also become really simple. Google provides the exact DNS entries for my domain host. For example, I’ve copied the mail exchanger record (MX record) and entered it in my provider’s domain/DNS management system. Within a short time, I was able to use Gmail to send and receive emails for the frank-hamm.com (in German) domain. When doing so, I can also decide for myself which services I use with which provider under my domain. I read emails to my domain with Gmail, but my online presence at frank-hamm.com is with another provider.
All in all, Google G Suite with its range of functions and “no thrills” administration is very attractive for small to medium-sized businesses as well as for us who are self-employed. G Suite is particularly outstanding when it comes to simple and fast collaboration not only within your own business but also with customers and other partners.
Frank Hamm is a consultant for communication and collaboration who supports companies in their digital transformation. He has written for INJELEA-Blog about social business, intranets, enterprise 2.0 and company communication practices since 2005. Frank is an avowed nexialist and writes about this at Der Schreibende.
You can find more articles by Frank Hamm in our intranet special.