Monday, March 22, 2010

Update: Migrating from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps now even easier

We've put the new Microsoft Exchange migration tool through its paces and it's definitely delivering beyond expectations.

What is most impressive is the ability to do parallel processing.  It's now feasible for us to migrate hundreds of users in a single night.  Thousands of users could be done over a weekend with lots of time to spare.

This tool will definitely reduce the cost of customer migrations.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Android Phones and the Google Nexus One from HTC

I've now had sufficient time to put the Google One Nexus through its paces and I fully recommend it to all Google Apps customers.  It's a beautiful phone.  Businesses can save big on IT labour because setup is as simple as turning on the phone and signing the user into their Google Apps account.  Everything instantly integrates; email, calendar, and contacts.

Ask your IT department how many hours they spend on Blackberries, iPhones, and Windows Mobile devices and drop me an email (or comment if you don't mind making it public).  Since I'm a professional accountant I'm interested in calculating the ROI across a range of samples.

Here's what I now recommend to corporations running Google Apps for phones:
  1. Google Nexus One running Android OS 2.1.  End user can completely configure it themselves.  It's unlocked so you can swap your Rogers Sim for an AT&T Sim and save big on roaming charges when you travel.  Only minus is that you need to install EasyTether or PdaNet for modem tethering with your notebook.  The LG Eve didn't require extra software for tethering.  I look forward to testing a phone like the Motorola Droid which has a hardware keyboard to see if the setup is just as simple as the Nexus One.
  2. iPhone - You have to carefully read the documentation to get the full experience.  We usually help the IT department do the first few but the integration is excellent and second only to the Android.
  3. Blackberry - still the preferred unit for speedy typing of emails on the go but it's really showing its age with too much complexity.  It still integrates wonderfully with Google Apps but the IT department definitely has to configure it for most users to get full email, calendar sync, and contacts sync.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Earth Shattering news: Migrating from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps now even easier

For me as an insider this is teary-eyed stuff.  Customers should care because data migrations to Google Apps from Microsoft Exchange will be easier and more cost effective with this tool.

And our team and I will get to spend less nights waking up multiple times to check on desktop data migrations.  Getting ahead of myself... Let us put it through the paces on our own internal Exchange Server test beds first.  Overall Google has always impressed me with the quality of their product releases.  There are third party tools that do the same but most were poorly documented.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome to Canada, Google Nexus One!

I've placed my Nexus One order and will report back on its suitability for business executives as compared to the LG Eve and Blackberry Bold.

Why the Nexus One?  Because I get to deal directly with Google and don't have to wait for Rogers to release software updates.  Our Rogers LG Eve is still on Android OS 1.5.  The Nexus One runs on Android OS 2.1.

The LG Eve running OS 1.5 can't invite multiple attendees to a meeting which is important for the on the road executive.  This was addressed in Android OS 2.0 plus with 2.1 you get Turn-by-turn GPS, Google Earth, etc.

Nexus One now compatible with the AT&T 3G network and shipping to Canada
Rogers Wireless: Welcome to Canada, Google Nexus One!

I'm also keeping an eye on the Samsung Galaxy Spica for $450.  If Rogers release OS 2.1 for the Spica it should be a good phone and less expensive than the Nexus One.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

DocVerse joins Google

Google Docs is simply awesome because I can edit and share my documents from any computer instantly from anywhere.  However, it still has to coexist with the 600 million users of Microsoft Office.  It's a pain to remember to upload your Excel spreadsheet to Google Documents every time you change it.

This is the problem that DocVerse solves.  Google just acquired them.  I look forward to seeing how Google integrates DocVerse into their solution offering.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Backup Solutions

I did a business process review with a customer yesterday and we both realized that their years of documents and contracts were stored on a single computer with zero backups.

I woke up early today worrying about my client's data.  There are hundreds of different backup solutions to choose from.  I've tested many.  My favourite is Mozy.  Please install it or call us.  Then we can all sleep better knowing that the data is securely backed up in the cloud.

P.S. Use my referral link or referral code VX97E6 and we both receive an extra 512 Mb of backup space.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Throw away your USB drive

Now that Google Apps allows you to upload files of any type without having to convert them to Google Doc format you can stop carrying around your USB drive.  No more having to remember to copy that complex financial forecast in Microsoft Excel to your notebook hard drive or USB stick.  Just open a web browser at the board meeting, log-in and open the file from Google Docs.

Your Google Apps account starts with a minimum of 10 Gb's of storage.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gmail and Google Apps Calendar management tips

I think children are sometimes the best test of whether a process is simple or not.  My 6 year old is like most and really doesn't care about daddy being late for something so I built him a schedule on Gmail and made sure it integrates with my schedule on Google apps.  He loves it!

Here's a few tips I think are worth sharing with business users from this exercise:
  • Learn how "Quick Add" works.  It's a phenomenal time saver.  Enter "today 800 am Bus to School 20 min" or "wed 2 pm Budget meeting 2 hours".  Google Calendar will automatically create the appropriate appointment for you.  If you get it wrong use the Undo Link that appears as part of the yellow message telling you what you just added.
  • Open your calendar, Settings, Labs (Gapps administrator has to allow labs for this to appear)
  • Enable the components: "Who's my one-on-one with?", "Free or busy", and my personal and my 6 year old's favourite "Next meeting"
Sure there's a whole bunch of encouragement for my 6 year old that helps too, but now I can leave a screen open that's his schedule (coordinated with dad's and mom's) that he's enjoying keeping up with.

Yikes, I'm 2 minutes late for picking him up for the dentist.  Gotta run.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What if your notebook computer was stolen?

How long would it take for you to be up and running with full access to all Email, Calendaring, and Contacts?

If running Google Apps; as fast as you can get to another computer with a web browser; probably minutes.

If running Microsoft Outlook you have to restore from backups; or if on Exchange configure Outlook on another computer...  I'll spare you the details but probably a few hours at least.

Just had a customer have his notebook stolen while on a trip.  The data in his outlook PST file plus all his Excel spreadsheets is at risk because it wasn't encrypted nor password protected.  Identity and financial information theft is a real possibility.  Sure you can use a Windows password, but a tech guy like me can plug the physical drive into another computer and still access all the data unless it was specifically encrypted.

So buy a better notebook with an encrypted drive like this one from Seagate or upgrade to a more expensive version of windows?  Or simply pay $50/year and store your documents (even in MS Excel format) on highly secure Google Apps servers using Google Documents?

Google Apps allows all browser sessions to use https.  So no data will get transmitted nor stored on the local computer in a usable form for a hacker.

I may sound biased but I'll be recommending the Google Apps solution to my customers. :)