Google rebranded Google Apps to G Suite in September of 2016. According to Google Trends, since the rebranding, “google apps” has continued to be the more dominant search term.
With Google Forms, it’s easy to embed surveys, polls and other types of questionnaires into your website.
We created a poll in Google Forms and embedded it below. If you answer the question, you’ll be able to see how others answered the same question simply by clicking the See previous responses link after you submit your response. Continue reading Create a Poll With Google Forms
Google is a household name for internet search. Most people are aware of consumer Gmail. However, many businesspeople are not aware of Google’s suite of applications for business, G Suite.
“Gone Google” is a term Google coined for companies that have adopted G Suite. At the time of publication of this post, Google states that over 5 million companies have gone Google. With over 125 million businesses in the world, there’s clearly some upside for Google. Continue reading 9 Reasons Companies Switch to G Suite
Through the use of simple-to-install browser apps and extensions, several vendors now offer Gmail users instant access to business productivity and sales enablement tools.
Users of business Gmail, part of Google Apps for Work, have several options for scheduling emails, tracking whether emails were opened and finding out whether links were within opened emails were clicked by recipients. And this is only a subset of the empowering functionality that’s available to Gmail users. Continue reading Three Great Apps For Scheduling and Tracking Gmail
As businesses increasingly rely on cloud applications, should they be thinking about a backup strategy for their cloud data? While the top tier cloud vendors have multiple levels of redundancy, there’s still a [very slight] possibility of a compound disaster that could relate in some data loss. In addition, there’s always the possibility of a “keyboard disaster”, which can occur no matter how good the technical protections are.
Even if an extra measure of data protection does nothing more than provide a business owner or an executive with a few extra hours of sleep each month, it could be worth considering adding backup solutions to your cloud services — especially since storage is so inexpensive.
Here are a few popular cloud applications and associated backup options.
Google Apps Backup
There’s a solution on the Google Apps Marketplace called Backupify which has received top marks from all reviewers so far. Backupify is a cloud data backup company and their service allows customers to back up Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Contacts, and Sites automatically on a daily basis. Backupify also provides solutions for backing up social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
It’s also worth pointing out that Google is committed to making it easy for customers to get their data out of Google Apps should they ever need to. They have an engineering team called the The Data Liberation Front “whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products.”
Backing Up WordPress to Amazon S3
If you’re hosting your Web site or blog on WordPress, there’s an excellent plugin called Automatic WordPress Backup, which automatically backs up your site to an Amazon S3 bucket on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This plugin backs up the config and htaccess files, your database, the themes folder, the plugins folder and any uploaded content such as images. Automatic WordPress Backup can also clean up after itself, by deleting backups that are over one month old.
With the recently released version 2.0, restoring an entire WordPress site to a fresh instance of WordPress is straightforward.
Salesforce.com Weekly Export
Salesforce.com allows Enterprise Edition and Unlimited Edition customers to schedule a weekly export of their data and this can be found under Setup>Administration Setup>Data Management>Data Export. This backup is a zipped file that contains a CSV file for each Salesforce standard and custom object (Accounts, Contacts, Tasks, etc.). While this is not a database that can be restored to a production org, it does make sure that you have a local copy of your important data.
As you can read here, there are also some options for scripting backups or using third party backup solutions.
Amazon EC2 to Amazon S3 Backup
If you have applications running on EC2, backing up data to S3 seems like a logical choice. Amazon provides documentation for scripts that allow for bundling up entire images and then uploading bundles to S3. If you need to backup SQL Server on EC2, here’s an excellent post on backup strategies and tactics.
I look forward to any comments on other cloud app/backup pairings.
Google has been actively touting the collaboration features of Google Apps and has developed some excellent marketing content around the various components of Google Apps. But, what are some specific, real world examples of how Google Docs and Google Sites can be used for collaboration in business?
As a CRM consulting company with employees in different locations along the west coast, collaborative tools are very important to our overall efficiency and our responsiveness to customer needs. Here just a few of the ways we collaborate using Documents and Sites within Google Apps Premier Edition.
Using Google Sites to Manage Projects
With Google Sites, we can set up a Site for each customer. Each customer Site is shared with everyone within our company. Within a Site, one or more projects is set up for the customer. Within a project we’ve created template pages for areas such as:
- The project summary
- The customer’s CRM functional requirements
- The data migration scripts that were used
- An embedded spreadsheet for managing a punch list of open issues
- A link to a folder that contains all project related Google Docs ranging from Statements of Work to training documentation
Subscribing to a Site or a page generates an email with every single change, which makes the notifications impractical if frequent changes are made. An option for a periodic digest email would be a good enhancement.
We also plan to replace our Twiki content with Google Sites, as Sites is a more user-friendly option and we don’t need to worry about managing uptime as we do with our Twiki.
Google Spreadsheets for Collaborating on Open Items
A Google spreadsheet has proven to be a very effective mechanism for creating a list of open items or issues that need to be addressed prior to a CRM cutover (or even post cutover). As a project manager/business analyst is logging issues found during his/her own testing or from customer feedback, a developer can be simultaneously viewing the same spreadsheet and tackling new issues as they are added as new rows in the spreadsheet.
If someone needs to be nudged to check the spreadsheet, an editor can send a friendly reminder email right from within the spreadsheet to one or more of the other collaborators. This list can also be shared out to customer contacts who already have a Google login or who don’t mind creating one.
Leveraging a Google Presentation to Collaborate on Application Testing
Taking the spreadsheet concept one step further, a shared Google presentation can be used by an application tester to include both text and screen shots to communicate needed fixes or changes to a developer. It’s very easy to take a screen shot of a problem area and the upload the screen shot to a slide along with text annotation. Crystal clear communication can be provided to the developer.
It does not seem that Google Apps Videos can be embedded within Google Presentations yet, but we hope that feature is added down the road. The ability to have a full motion explanation of an issue is occasionally needed — this is currently be accomplished by attaching an MOV or MP4 screencast to a GMail or by setting up a quick GoToMeeting.
These are just a few of the ways we’ve found that Google Docs and Sites can be used for collaboration. What are some of the ways that your organization collaborates with Google Apps?
It’s easy for a user of free GMail or of Google Apps for Work to take for granted the massive and highly sophisticated infrastructure behind what’s on their screen. In fact, most people don’t really have any reason to think about what’s behind their user experience, any more than they care about what’s generating the electrical power that runs lights and appliances inside their house — as Nicholas Carr points out in his book, The Big Switch.
The people who are evaluating Google Apps for their organization are the ones who do care about what’s under the hood. Google’s infrastructure, of course originally designed for search, is very different from the way in which traditional IT environments are structured. While the term “cloud” is an excellent metaphor for utility computing that’s served up from somewhere out in the ether, Google’s infrastructure is very much terrestrial, and it covers a lot of ground globally.
As a basis of comparison, let’s look at the environment that many Google Apps customers have come from — Exchange Server. With Exchange Server, each user within an organization typically connects directly to a single physical or virtual box from their Outlook client. There’s usually drive redundancy, such as RAID-10, built into that server (or group of servers) and then the server is in turn, backed up. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this environment (as long as a proper disaster recovery plan is in place), and Exchange Server is an extremely robust application. However, one perspective on this structure is that all users are connected up to a mother ship — a form of parent/child relationship.
In many ways, Google Apps is on the complete other end of the spectrum. Users are wired into a very large, global infrastructure and data are widely distributed through Google’s Bigtable database and accompanying file system. When a user sends an email, the write is to a number of different drives that are located in different physical locations — often on different continents.
What does this architecture translate into for practical purposes?
Google Apps Uptime
This architecture allows Google to guarantee 99.9% uptime for Google Apps for Work. As we all know, for email, users’ downtime tolerance thresholds are very low. Email downtime can be very costly depending upon when it happens.
All Google Apps customers are on one, very large instance of Google’s application. This makes for significant economies of scale in terms of sharing physical resources. In addition, Google has designed their data centers around cheap, commodity hardware and free software — which makes their incremental expansion costs relatively inexpensive. This allows Google charge only $50 per user per year for Google Apps for Work — and presumably their financial people have run the numbers on this price point.
Google Apps Upgrades
The single, multi-tenant instance also means that upgrades are frequent and transparent, compared to event-based upgrades in a legacy environment. Customers don’t have to pay anything extra for upgrades – they just happen in background. Innovation occurs very quickly and newly released innovations are usable immediately.
Google Sites, which is part of Google Apps, can take the place of a wiki. For example a Google Site can be used to collaborate on a project or on a set of best practices. Google continues to enhance the more traditional document, spreadsheet and presentation categories — these are also highly collaborative in nature.
Third Party Innovation
Google Apps’s marketplace offers a variety of business productivity add-ons, some of which leverage the recently released GMail Contextual Gadget capabilities. Google Apps customers can get incremental business value with just a few clicks.
Google’s unique, flat, global architecture represents a significant shift in thinking for many IT professionals and corporate decision makers. Each day, thousands of organizations are embracing this new approach to corporate email and collaboration — and it’s still relatively early in the game.
An increasing number of our clients have been making the transition to Google Apps for Work for their email and other collaboration needs. After recently weighing the pros and cons of upgrading our current email server, we decided to make the move to Google Apps as well. Continue reading Making the Move to Google Apps for Work