Twinstrata, the company that sells Clarity AP (assessment and planning) software, conducted a comprehensive study of the costs and risks of Google Apps versus Microsoft Exchange. In his Storage Bits blog, Robin Harris provides a good summary of the results.
Robin’s summary explains the stark cost difference — 20x on capital equipment and 5x to 6x on a 3 year total cost of ownership (TCO). Some of the details warrant clarification.
First, the study narrowed the gap based on the risk of unplanned downtime. MS Exchange, however, requires downtime on a monthly basis (or expensive redundancy configurations), for system and operating system patches and updates. Planned downtime adds to the cost and should be counted when comparing availability given that Google is engineered for zero-downtime.
Second, Google is developing a robust and diverse channel to provide the implementation, migration, integration, and support services identified is lacking in the study. While purchasing through a reseller increases the cost over the direct Google pricing, the value of the services improves the quality, and therefore lowers the cost, of using Google.
While these considerations may change the equation slightly, the business case for Google Apps is valid for many small and mid-size businesses.