How you Work Influences Which Cloud Platform is Best for You

How You Work ...Both G Suite (Google Apps) and Microsoft Office 365 provide cloud productivity tools and a foundation for a productive cloud ecosystem. Several factors influence which cloud is best for you. Having discussed culture clash and line of business apps in past posts, I want to focus on how you — and your team — work.

Question to Ask When Deciding Which Cloud Platform is Best

  • How much work is on-site? How much needs to be on-site?
  • How often is work done while mobile/remote? How critical is this work?
  • What is the balance between individual and team assignments?
  • Are teams a collection of individuals working on their own assignments or a collaborative group?
  • Are teams organized according to the organization hierarchy or by purpose, goal, or function?
  • Does your team need, or have, access to data from line of business systems?
  • How often is “copy/paste” or data re-entry a part of your workday?

These questions, and others, highlight that how we work as individuals and teams can vary greatly.

Other Ways to Determine Which Cloud Platform Is Better For Your Business

  1. Organizations with higher numbers of mobile users, for example, tend to prefer ease of individual access to files over hierarchical organization.
  2. Collaborative teams thrive when they have ready access to chat, video conferencing, co-editing, and social tools, whereas teams of individual contributors tend to rely on email and periodic meetings.
  3. When work roles require access to data across line of business apps, integration is seen as more important than advanced features.

When deciding which cloud platform is best, consider how you and your team work now, as well as how you want to work in the future. Map these requirements to the cloud infrastructure and ecosystem you intend to build to ensure that you do not create roadblocks to your own success.

Complete our Which Cloud Survey and we will provide you with a custom Assessment and Recommendation report.  Normally a $895 service, it is yours free and without obligation through August 2017. Click here for more info and to start the survey.

Friday Thought: Building a Cloud File Service

For many of the companies, non-profits, school systems, and local governments we work with, the desire to use the cloud is expanding beyond email and calendar.  These organizations are looking to move some or all of their file services into the cloud as well.


While the initial motivation is often to improve access to and sharing of information on projects, or in general, the planning process often reveals a greater value proposition. These secondary benefits derive from giving users direct access to data, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduced need for SSL VPN services and/or remote access, desktop, or virtual desktop solutions, resulting in lower hardware, software, networking, and support costs.
  • Reduced need for site-to-site links, enabling organizations to replace expensive point-to-point WAN links and MPLS networks with much less costly direct Internet access links.
  • Improved access to information from tablets and smart phones.
  • Reduced backup/restore costs, as physical infrastructure and in-house administration is replaced by cloud-to-cloud data protection services.

In short, cloud file services provide better user access to information, a simpler IT infrastructure, and lower costs.


Many services exist to provide cloud-based file services and organizations are best off if they  review their needs before making a selection.  Beyond methods of accessing the service, be sure to review your permissions/security requirements with the features and function of the service.

Building a file service also means having the necessary components to ensure a robust ecosystem.

  • Affordable storage purchased as used or in flexible blocks
  • Drive letter access (DLA) or Network Place access from Windows desktops
  • Drive type access from Mac desktops, if needed
  • Access from mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets
  • Ability to integrate user identity with your LDAP, Active Directory, or SSO service
  • Availability of cloud-to-cloud backup/restore services
  • Encryption of data at rest and in transit
  • Ability to set permissions in accordance with your business needs, policies, and procedures


Moving to a cloud file service starts with understanding your requirements and the impact of the change on your computing environment and your end users.  Which aspects of the ecosystem do you need/want?  How will the change effect the user experience?  How will a new file service fit in with your other cloud solutions?  With an understanding of requirements, you can better match your needs to the available solutions and map out a migration that minimizes risk and enhances the benefits of the move.


Tuesday Take Away: Google Apps Caveats and Solutions

One of the critiques we often hear when speaking with businesses and non-profits hesitant about a move to Google Apps is that Google Apps does not provide a complete computing environment.  And it appears that there are a couple of key factors behind this perception.

  • Many organizations may be able, but are not comfortable, moving from MS Office to Google Docs.
  • Google Apps provides a range of core and additional services, but does not provide a complete computing environment.
  • Google Apps needs to integrate with internal networks and systems.

The best part of these perceptions?  They are all TRUE!

Google Apps for business is a suite of applications and services.  It is not a complete IT infrastructure.  Knowing this, you can plan to overcome these “caveats” with solutions that work.

You Need Backup / Recovery

As we have written in several blog posts (Protect Your Data in the Cloud, DLP in Google Apps), Google protects you data in Google Apps from loss due to network, system, or software failures.  Google cannot, however, protect your data from you (and your users).

Just like your in-house systems, protect your data in Google Apps with a sound backup/recovery solution.  Costs for these services run $3 per user per month or less and are well worth the protection they provide.

Sharing Contacts & Address Books

While sharing contacts and managing a the Global Address Book in Exchange is no picnic, Google did drop the ball on this common business need.  Most businesses have groups of contacts that they want to share and manage across multiple individuals.  The cloud provides and easy structure to do this, but Google did not build an interface for the capability.

Fortunately, we work with a number of third party solutions with a variety of features and capabilities.  Better than a “one size fits all” solution, we can match the tool to each of our customers’ needs.  The costs for these options range from free to a few dollars per month per user.

Users Need to Learn

The last time your users had to re-learn their email and desktop software probably coincided with your most recent “fork lift upgrade” of your email and file servers.  Even then, how many of your users learned about new capabilities rather than focusing on relearning how to do the features they already used?

Unless you choose to run MS Outlook and miss out on many of the great features of Google Apps, your users will need to learn.  Even those with personal Gmail accounts benefit from fully understanding the capabilities of Google Apps for Business (Education / Government).

Google updates Google Apps constantly — every few weeks — with incremental features and capabilities.  Providing on-going learning to your users helps users evaluate and select the new features and capabilities that will benefit their work.

On-going webinars and office hours require coordination and costs can add up.  Integrated, self-paced training with modules that update as Google Apps changes costs less than $1 per user per month.

You Want or Need a File Service

Switching from your current email service to Google Apps and its business version of Gmail is a great first step.   The migration is relatively fast and painless, and users will be more productive.

Moving your shared files from in-house servers to the cloud, however, opens up many more opportunities for collaboration, efficiency, and cost savings.   Without the need to connect remote and mobile users to centralized file servers saves companies hundreds or thousands of dollars on VPN services and licenses.  The ability to share documents, manage changes, and control permissions, gives co-workers and project teams the ability to work together without “losing track” of changes and versions.

The challenge, is how to integrate your existing desktop applications with your cloud storage.  Fortunately, there are a range of tools that integrate applications and provide “drive letter access” (DLA) to the cloud.  The tools vary from one-time purchases to annual subscription services and can be easily matched to your needs.

Now for the Good News

We understand that when moving to the cloud, you want to make sure that the overall computing environment — your ecosystem — provides the same level of service, security, and reliability as your existing in-house solutions (if not better!).

Through the end of 2011, Cumulus Global is offering free trials and will waive our implementation fees for the value-add services that resolve these concerns.

  • Backupify for Google Apps Backup and Restore
  • Floreysoft Share Groups and Dito Directory for contact and address book sharing
  • Gladinet Desktops Professional Edition and other tools for DLA to Google Docs