Posts

Google Workspace: Key Transition Dates

Google workspaceWith the restructuring of G Suite into Google Workspace, Google is providing more service tiers and subscription options and you will need to decide which subscription best meets your needs and budget.

Here are some key dates to keep in mind as you plan your transition.

Your Renewal Date

Cumulus Global

  • If your G Suite subscription is an annual, promotional, or multi-year commitment, whether you pay annually or monthly, your renewal date determines when you need to transition from G Suite to Google Workspace.

December 31, 2020

  • Incentive discounts for early moves to Google Workspace expire. We must complete the change by this date for discounts to apply.  Discounts are available for 1, 2, and 3 year commitments. (Learn more …)
  • Vault Former Employee (VFE) licenses for non-Postini customers expire.  Licenses will convert to paid Archive User (AU) licenses. (see our blog post on this topic)

January 15, 2020

  • If your renewal date is before January 15, 2020, you have the option of renewing your G Suite subscription for one more year or transitioning to Google Workspace.
  • If your renewal date is after January 15, 2020, you must switch to a Google Workspace subscription at renewal if you have not already done so.

March 31. 2020

  • This is the last date G Suite Customers on monthly flex plans can continue with their G Suite subscription. If your G Suite subscription is a monthly flex and you have not yet switched to a Google Workspace subscription, the transition will happen automatically on April 1, 2020.

Unknown

  • Vault Former Employee (VFE) licenses for past-Postini customers will deprecate. While the date is not yet set, Google will provide at least 60 days notice prior to moving VFE licenses to paid Archive User licenses.  We strongly recommend that you start planning for this transition. (see our blog post on this topic)

To discuss Google Workspace subscription is best for your business, explore the incentive discounts, or get answers to your questions, please email us or submit this form. We will arrange a call with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Google Workspace: Vault Former Employee Licensing

Google VaultCoinciding with the announcement of the move to Google Workspace, Google also announced that Vault Former Employee, or VFE, licensing will deprecate and no longer be available.  While Google is offering Archive User, or AU, licensing, the licenses will no longer be free.

What are VFE licenses?

VFEIn G Suite, in order to preserve data in Vault for former employees, you needed to keep the user’s account active. As this could be expensive for many businesses, Google provided relief with free VFE licenses that maintain the archive without having to pay for the user account.

For customers that came to G Suite as former Postini customers, VFE licenses are a separate, free subscription.  For other customers, VFE licenses were provided as additional, free G Suite Basic, Business, or Standard Licenses.

Note that the vast majority of customers with VFE licensing, particularly small and midsize businesses, are former Postini customers.

What are AU licenses?

In Google Workspace, Archive User licenses allow you to maintain your vault archive for past users without paying for a full Google Workspace license.  Depending on your subscription, AU licenses will cost between $4 and $7 per user per month ($48-$84 per year).  This is significantly less than the $18 to $30 per user per year to keep an active license.

As of this blog post AU licenses are only available with the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus subscription. We expect AU licensing to be added to Enterprise Standard and Business Plus subscriptions some time in 2020 Q1.

When do VFE licenses go away?

For Former Postini Customers:

The end date for VFE licensing for former Postini Customers has not been set.  Google will provide these customers with at least 60 days notice before the licenses expire.  By default these VFE licenses will automatically transition to paid AU licenses.

At this time, we do not expect these VFE licenses to end prior the addition of AU licenses to other Enterprise and Business subscriptions. As such, our best estimate is that this change will happen no earlier than 2020 Q3.

For non-Postini Customers:

The end date for non-Postini customers is December 31, 2020.  At this time, VFE licenses will convert to paid AU licenses. Customers will need to move to the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus subscription for this to occur.

What are YOUR Options:

Non-Postini Customers

Non-Postini customers have until the end of the year to migrate data out of the VFE accounts to another location or service, or to prepare for the transition to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus and AU licensing.  Both options involve cost, either labor and tools to move the data or new subscription fees.  If you want to migrate your data out of VFEs, you have multiple options. The best option will depend on the number of users and amount of data.

Former Postini Customers

We recommend former Postini customers with VFE licensing begin their planning process now.

Since VFE licenses are a separate “product”, you can take advantage of our incentive discounts for moving from G Suite to Google Workspace before the end of the year.

Looking forward, you want to decide what VFE data you need or want to keep, and whether it is worthwhile to move the data or pay for the AU licensing when the transition happens.

Your Next Step:

The best way to move forward is to contact us and speak with one of our Cloud Advisors. We can help you assess your situation, discuss options, and pick the solution that best meets your requirements and budget.

 

 

Google Workspace: The Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money

Last week, Google made one of the biggest announcements in the 12 year history of its business productivity suite history.  G Suite is now Google Workspace. More than a name and branding change, Google Workspace represents a wholesale realignment of the productivity suite. Offering Business and Enterprise product tiers, each with multiple licensing and package options, Google Workspace is structured to match the way businesses are running today, and expect to run in the future.

With any major change, the opportunity and the impact of Google Workspace varies by business.  As we focus on small and mid-size enterprises, in this post we take a look at the Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money of Google Workspace Business editions.

The Marvelous

Google Workspace Business editions align well with the features and capabilities used by businesses with 300 or fewer employees.

  • Business Starter: This edition is a continuation of the former G Suite Basic service.   Users have 30GB of email, document, and photo storage, up to 100 participants per meeting in Google Meet, support for single sign-on, and basic device management, reports, and audit logs.
  • Business StandardThis edition increases storage to 2TB per user, allows up to 150 participants in Google Meets, and adds Shared Drives with advanced permissions, approvals, and metadata.  Business Standard also includes internal Cloud Search, advanced Drive auditing and reports, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Drive.
  • Business PremiumThe Business Premium edition is the most similar to the current G Suite Business subscription with 5TB of email, file, and photo storage per user, Shared Drives, and Vault for email and IM eDiscovery and Archiving. Users can include up to 250 participants in Google Meets. This edition also includes secure LDAP services and a set of advanced endpoint management services.

With this realignment, you can now mix licenses within your domain.  Doing so lets you optimize capabilities and costs to the needs of individual users and teams.

Google is focusing on the collaboration and work environment support most businesses need. The ability to manage document approvals and create custom metadata labels and fields in the Standard and Premium subscriptions are the types of features we expect businesses to use to improve collaboration, work flows, and efficiencies.

The Meh

For organizations currently on G Suite Business, moving to Workplace Business Standard and Premium Editions means losing unlimited storage.  While the vast majority of small and midsize businesses do not need more than 2TB or 5TB of storage, respectively, some businesses may need to move up to the Enterprise tier.

Most of our customers on G Suite Business need Vault archiving for regulatory compliance or to comply with and manage internal policies.  These organizations will need to move to Business Premium or will need Business Standard with Vault as an add-on.

As with most changes, customers will have decisions to make about when to move to the new subscriptions. While you can choose to move to a Google Workspace subscription at any time, the current G Suite subscriptions will only remain available through March 2021.

  • If you are on the monthly flex plan, you can continue to use your current G Suite service until the end of March 2021.  You will need to select and move to a Google Workspace subscription before March 31, 2021.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is before March 31, 2021, you can either renew your current service for 1 year or switch to a Google Workspace subscription.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is after March 31, 2021, you will need to move to a Google Workspace subscription upon renewal.

The Money

While moving from G Suite Basic to Workspace Business Starter does not impact your costs, moving from G Suite Business to Workspace Business Starter and Premium Editions will increase costs for most G Suite Business subscribers.

For G Suite Basic subscribers, your cost of $6/user per month ($72/year) remains the same with Workspace Business Starter.

For G Suite Business subscribers, your cost of $12/user per month ($144/year) may change as follows:

    • Change to Workspace Business Standard at $12/user per month ($144/year) PLUS the cost of Vault for users requiring Archive/eDiscovery coverage
    • Change to Workspace Business Premium at $18/user per month ($216/year) for complete Vault coverage and the additional features
    • Remain at $12/user per month ($144/year) if you no longer need or want Vault coverage

In April 2019, Google changed and increased pricing for G Suite Basic and Business editions.  To mitigate the financial impact, Google authorized promotional discounts for upgrades and for renewals extended term commitments. For many businesses that took advantage of these upgrades, you saw a modest price increase in 2019, an expected step to standard G Suite pricing in 2020, and may not face another increase in 2021. We are sensitive to the budget impact and are offering options to avoid or mitigate the additional costs.

Your Next Step:

Your best next step is to contact us and schedule a Cloud Advsior session. We will review your current subscription and usage, discuss your options and costs, and recommend a preferred solution that best fits your business’ needs, priorities, and budgets.  For most, the choice will be which Google Workspace subscription is best. For some, particularly those still using MS Office desktop applications, switching platforms to Microsoft 365 may provide a better alternative.  Our team is here to listen, understand, guide, and execute. Let our expertise inform your decisions and support your actions and goals.

Chrome Device Lifecycle Update

Like any hardware, Chrome devices have a useful life.  Per Google’s policies:

  • Every Chrome device receives regular updates from Google until it reaches its Auto Update Expiration (“AUE”) date, subject to support from component manufacturers. When a device reaches AUE, automatic software updates from Google will no longer be provided.

  • Chrome devices that have not reached their AUE date will continue to receive OS updates and function with Chrome Education Upgrade and Chrome Enterprise Upgrade (a.k.a Chrome management licensing). After the AUE date is reached, existing and future policies may not work as intended, and technical support will not be provided.

  • Google will publish a model’s AUE date after its release, giving buyers time to make purchase decisions. Please check the AUE date when making a purchasing decision.

For your convenience, we are providing a link to Google’s Chrome Device Auto Update Policy here on our site.

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 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.

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.

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.