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Google+ Changes: What you need to know

In December 2018, Google announced that the consumer version of Google+ is shutting down in April 2019.  As the usage lines between the consumer and business versions of Google+ have often been blurry, we want to clear up some of the confusion following the notices you may be getting from Google.

What is happening?
  • The consumer version of Google+ is going away.
    • If employees have setup Google+ accounts or communities not using their G Suite account, this content will be deleted.
    • If you have a Google+ circles or communities with “consumer” members, these users will be removed along with their content
  • You will no longer be able to create public communities outside of your G Suite domain.
  • The business version of Google+ is changing. You will no longer have pages, events, or the “tagline” profile field within the Google+ service.
  • If you cancel your G Suite service, all content in Google+ will be removed
What should you do?

The first step is to ask your users if they are using Google+ and, if so, how they are using the service.  If Google+ is not in use, no action is required.  If Google+ is in use, your next steps are determined by how you are using the service.

Google is updating the download tools for Google+ in March to include author, body, and photos for every post.  Once this is available, plan to download and save content you want to keep …

  • Posts from Google+ communities outside your G Suite Domain owned or managed by your users
  • Google+ Pages and Events of any type
  • Your Google+ tagline (download your profile)

In addition, you will want to:

  • Upgrade the Google+ Android app between Feb 22nd and March 7th.  After March 7, 2019, the current versions of the app will be unsupported.
  • Remove any Google+ gadgets from any classic Google Sites you may have
  • Have users opt out of the Google Play Services Public Beta Program to avoid issues with other Google apps, such as Email and Hangouts

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.

 

G Suite

G Suite Price Hike: Your Next Steps

G SuiteAnytime a vendor critical to your business changes their product and pricing, it is tempting to reassess. We may see the world differently than other IT providers, but we, the team at Cumulus Global, strongly agree.  Now is a good time to examine your cloud services, as part of your full IT ecosystem, and determine if it is the right time to make a change for the better.

Step 1: Look Inward: Utilization

The first step is to look at your current service, and evaluate how well you are using its capabilities to operate and improve your business. By looking at your utilization today and what features and capabilities you expect to use in the future, you can decide if your current subscription is best or if you should consider an upgrade.

If you are running G Suite Basic or G Suite Business:

  • Are you using it solely for email, calendars, or contacts or are your using the collaboration features?  
  • Does Drive, or can Drive and Team Drives, serve as your primary file service?  
  • Are you paying for separate services, such as teleconferencing and web/video conferencing, that are included within G Suite at no additional cost?

Understanding the capabilities of each G Suite subscription and asking the right questions, you assess how you will use G Suite going forward.  Contact us, we are here to help.

Step 2: Look Outward

Currently, about 30% of our client migrations to G Suite and Office 365 are from another cloud service, not from on-premise or hosted email servers.  While this number may be surprising to some, for us it makes sense. Companies that moved to G Suite or Office 365 several years ago are looking at how the cloud has advanced how their businesses have changed, and how their overall IT needs and services have evolved.  

Is now the time to switch?

The decision to switch from G Suite to Office 365, or vice versa, makes solid business sense for for some of our current and prospective clients. For some, they remain reliant on the desktop MS Office suite and want better integration. For others, they have business apps running on MS SQL Server and want the integrated business intelligence and analytic capabilities of Office 365. For still others, a unified security infrastructure covering desktops, laptops, and mobile devices is the driving need.

If you think switching is a worthwhile consideration, we are offering our Productivity Cloud Assessment and Recommendations at no cost through March 31, 2019.  Complete our Cloud Productivity Questionnaire and we will schedule a Cloud Advisor Session and present you with our assessment and recommendations. The service, normally $895, will help you jump start the process for considering a change in platform.

Additionally, check out this blog post for ways to mitigate the price increase.

Step 3: Talk to Us

Whether you expect to stay the course or change directions, we are here to help. Because we partner Google, Microsoft, and dozens of other cloud providers, you get our objective assessment and recommendations. Because we understand small and midsize businesses, you will get pragmatic advice and solutions focused on your needs and desired outcomes.

Please take advantage of our experience and expertise.

G Suite

Managing the Impact of the G Suite Price Increase

G SuiteTo help manage the impact of the pricing increase, we are able to offer renewal and upgrade discounts based on your current licensing. Converting from Monthly/Flex to Annual locks in the current pricing for a year. Upgrading your G Suite Version provides you a discount off the current upgrade pricing for 12 to 24 months.

Convert Monthly/Flex to Annual

  • For clients using G Suite Basic or G Suite Business on the Monthly/Flex plan, we can mitigate the increase by switching you to the annual prepaid plan before the end of March.  
  • Doing so secures the current $50 per user or $120 per user annual cost until your renewal in 2020.

G Suite Basic to Business Upgrade

  • For clients using G Suite Basic, you can take advantage of upgrade discounts to G Suite Business.
  • The discounts up to 33% off current prices based on the commitments of 12, 15, or 18 months.
  • At the end of this promotional term, your subscription resets to the new pricing.

G Suite Business to Enterprise Upgrade

  • For clients using G Suite Business, you can upgrade to G Suite Business with discounts up to 38% off current pricing, based on the term commitment of up to 24 months.  
  • At the end of this promotional term, your subscription resets to the new pricing.

While we expect additional upgrade incentives after the price increase takes effect, the above offers expire at the end of March.

To assess your G Suite service and determine if any of these options are right for you, please contact us for a Cloud Advisor Session.

Google Drive

Picking the Right Google Drive Client

Google DriveToday is the day that Google makes Drive File Stream generally available to all G Suite users. As of December 11, 2017, Google will fully deprecate and end support for the old Google Drive Client that has, up until now, provided users with the ability to sync and share files between Drive and their devices. Recently, Google also released Backup and Sync.

Which Drive Client is Right for You?

Briefly, Backup and Sync is a personal utility that Google has publicly classified as a “consumer” tool. Drive File Stream is a support part of G Suite and is designed for business users. For most businesses, even small businesses, Drive File Stream will be best. While Drive File Stream will not let you sync other local folders, it will provide “native drive” access to both My Drive and Team Drives. This style of access gives you nearly universal access to files in Drive from local applications, without large sync directories and large local storage demands.

A Deeper Look

Feature Drive File Stream Backup and Sync
Access files in My Drive Y Y
Access files in Team Drives Y
Stream files on demand Y
Sync only selected folders in My Drive Y Y
Sync only individual files in My Drive Y
Use native applications like MS Word and Photoshop Y Y
Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop Y

Better Look and Feel

Drive File Stream will have a new look on your local machine, instead of syncing between a “Google Drive” folder and My Drive, Drive File Stream will appear as a local disk:

  • Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Devices
  • Windows 7: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under My Computer and Favorites
  • Windows 10: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under This PC and Quick Access

Sync & Share

You will still be able to flag folders (and individual files!) for sync to the local disk for offline and high-performance access.

Culture Clash: Office 365 and G Suite

IT preferences can feel like religion. Mac vs PC. Linux vs Windows, iOS vs Android. The same holds true with cloud services. The historical presence of MS Office in our daily work lives makes moving to G Suite feel more like a radical shift than moving to Office 365. And while there is something to be said for familiarity, the way we’ve always done things is not necessary the best way to do them, or the way we should be doing them in the future.

Our work environments are changing from structure and hierarchy to collaboration and teams.

The productivity tools we pick should foster and support the way your team wants to work rather than forcing your team into structures and processes that can stifle innovation, initiative, and productivity.

Both Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite give you the tools to help your team collaborate and thrive. The approaches, however, differ.

The Microsoft Angle

For about two years, Microsoft has focused on “cloud first; mobile first” as its strategy and mantra. The evolution of Office 365 and Azure demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment and enthusiasm for the collaboration economy.

But Microsoft is about rapid evolution, not revolution. Microsoft understand that you have legacy systems and data — from MS Office documents to line-of-business systems — that you cannot replace all at once.  One of the strengths of Office 365 is the ability to integrate the service with existing servers, applications, and data. In doing so, new capabilities work not only with cloud-based systems and data, but with your existing IT systems and services.

Microsoft’s cloud-first strategy is clearly to expand the capability of Office 365, but let you access your on-premise systems and data. Case in point: Power BI.  Power BI is a user-driven data analytics tool in Office 365 that is not part of the MS Office suite.  Power BI lets you connect and include data from Excel, SQL Server, Dynamics, and hundreds of other sources — on premise and in the cloud.

The Google Angle

Google has always been cloud-first — some might say cloud-only — in its strategy.  Yes, G Suite integrates with your local Windows network and with your desktop MS Office suite. But the real power of G Suite is the innate design around collaboration and peer connectivity. Every app — and nearly every feature — supports real time collaboration.  The apps within G Suite are designed to be efficient and “lighter weight” than other productivity suites, focusing on the functionality used by 80-90% of users and relying on third party solutions for the rest.

G Suite assumes, if not expects, you to use third party applications and solutions to build out your capabilities. Google focuses on integration with third parties as much, if not more, than adding major apps and functionality to G Suite. Need a CRM system? Take your pick from dozens of solutions ranging from major players like Salesforce.com and Prosperworks to niche and vertical market solutions like Bullhorn. Need a task management solution? Hive, Smartsheets, and many others are ripe for the picking.

Google’s cloud strategy is clearly to provide a core productivity platform and to empower organizations to pick “best fit” and “best of breed” cloud (SaaS) solutions to fill broader needs and provide line of business functionality.

Culture Clash

Even with a Cloud-First strategy, Microsoft focuses on including and providing a broad range of apps and solution within the Windows/Office365/Azure ecosystem. Yes, Microsoft fosters relationships and integrates with other cloud solutions and apps. Microsoft also integrates with legacy, on-premise systems. Google’s culture is more “all in cloud”. Yes, you can integrate MS Office.  Yes, you can connect to on-premise systems. But your productivity suite will work best when you integrate with third party SaaS solutions.

Which solution — Office 365 and G Suite — is right for you depends on where you are and where you want to go as an organization. The decision is as much about culture, line of business apps, mobility, and other factors as it is about Outlook vs Gmail.  When deciding which cloud, look forward and measure your decision against goals, objectives, and the long term strategy for your business as well as your IT.

 


For more discussion of factors to consider when deciding which cloud is best for your business, check out our recent eBook, Picking Your Productivity Cloud.

Google Apps for Work

Atmosphere Digital: Retail Evolving

Service Alert: Photo Sharing in Hangouts Chat

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The photo-sharing functionality in Hangouts is changing. Going forward, the ability to share photos and other multimedia in Hangouts Chat will be set by the Picasa Web Albums service rather than by the Google+ service.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If Google+ is enabled in your domain, no further action is necessary. Google+ requires Picasa Web Albums so you can continue to share photos using Hangouts Chat just like you always have.
  • If Google+ is not enabled for your domain and you want to use the photo-sharing functionality in Hangouts Chat, you must turn on the Picasa Web Albums service in your Admin console.

Please note that Google+ and Picasa Web Albums are additional services and aren’t subject to the core terms of service for your Google Apps account agreement. The functionality change will take effect in the next few days.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to visit the Google Apps Help Center or contact us immediately to learn more about using Hangouts in your organization.

Google for Nonprofits is Global

Google for Nonprofits LogoDid you know?

Google’s programs and products for non-profits are available to non-profits and non-governmental organizations across the globe.

This Google for Nonprofits support article lists and provides links to all programs for available for non-profits by category and by country.


If your nonprofit would benefit from guidance or assistance moving to Google Apps for Nonprofits, please let us know.


 

Atmosphere | The Anatomy of Innovation

Chrome Live
Join us on June 2 for Google’s
biggest digital work event

Atmosphere | The Anatomy of Innovation

 

What do innovators all have in common? A drive to disrupt the ordinary. At Atmosphere, Google and IT industry experts will reveal what sparks innovation, what kinds of tools truly support it, and how you, your team, and your entire organization can bring a greater level of innovation to your work. Discover how to make it happen.

Register today to take part in our digital event on June 2 at Noon ET.

First, we’ll dissect the current state of work to understand motivations and driving factors of innovation, then we’ll pinpoint ways you, your team and your business can truly become innovators.

After, we’ll let you can choose between 2 instructional tracks:

  • How to collaborate better and build and inspire innovative teams
  • How to give employees the tools to innovate while keeping your company safe

Know anyone else who would be interested in tuning in? Let them know about Atmosphere.


Chrome Support for Windows XP Ends

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As announced by Google in October, 2013, Chrome support for Windows XP will end on April 30, 2015 — a full year after Microsoft discontinued support for the Windows XP operating system.

This means:

  • Chrome will continue to function on Windows XP, but no new features will be added.  Chrome will continue to get updates on Windows XP until (at least) the end of 2015.
  • Google will no longer provide Google for Work support for any issue related to Chrome on Windows XP, including Google Apps for Work, Education, and Government. If you have an issue on an XP machine with Chrome, you will need to reproduce the issue on a supported platform to receive support.

That fact that Google will still provide updates, means Chrome users on Windows XP systems will continue to have a secure and reliable browser, with some additional time to move to a supported platform.