I have been bitten by the Google Apps bug. I use it for my personal/family, my business, and any group I can convince to use it. Why? Simply put, it works and it’s absolutely free (up to a certain limit).
The overall concept is you can utilize the primary Google applications (Email, Calendar, Chat, Docs, Sites, Web Pages) but it utilizes YOUR domain.
No longer do you need to find some way of enabling an Exchange Server or some hosted variation. Quit signing up for some sort of branded attempt at a gmail/hotmail/yahoo account and help promote your site by simply sending your email. Tap in to the powerful gmail email servers and benefit from their spam filters and technology.
We use Google Apps for our business, the standard edition which is free up to 100 users. Special offers are available for schools, non-profits and businesses for even greater support beyond the free edition.
How do you set it up?
- Go to www.google.com/a and choose your version you are signing up for
- Sign up following the prompts
- Once everything is set up, the only thing you need is access to your domain.
- From the newly created Apps dashboard, click on each service to activate and follow the prompts to enable by way of your domain.
That’s it! There is time needed for the servers to catch up with the new MX records created (for your email) but within hours you’re good to go.
Everything you need is at the dashboard of that account.
Some great features to note:
- Central company contacts directory (edition specific) to keep vendors, clients, etc. in one place.
- Easily add new accounts (no special training needed)
- Easily create “group” accounts or distribution lists
- Set up multiple calendars to be shared with everyone in the organization (color-coded)
- Centralized documents repository for all important company files utilizing revision control, sharing and more
- Internal chat capabilities including video/voice chat
- Simple integration into most mobile phones (data plans enabled)
- Up to 100 users = FREE
After over 2 years of using Google Apps for our business at RightTurn there have been 0 minutes of down time that we have experienced, though I’m sure there have been updates and all. We utilize the imap server approach for email and have experienced very few issues.
If you’re just starting a business or venturing out on your own, give Google Apps a whirl. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.