Over the holidays I was testing Google Apps and except for a small false positive spam issue with google alerts — I was really impressed.
The reason I was testing it was to see if I could replace my gmail account with one of my own email accounts, using my own domain — but running on google apps. Google Apps essentially allows you to use all the Google services like email, docs, calendar, etc — but using your own domain (i.e. myname.com).
The main motivator for me was to have a permanent email address that had great web interface, and also pop/imap support for a desktop client.
My old personal email setup:
* hosting: running on my own server
* Spam: using SpamAssasin to filter out spam. It worked fairly well but required some maintenance overhead of keeping up with new versions and tweaking the spam’s whitelist was a chore
* Webmail: the default Squirrel webmail was good, but not amazing
* Search: using Thunderbird for search when you had gigs of email was tough, and webmail search was OK
My move to gmail:
Then in July 2004 I signed up to test gmail and was amazed. I was tired of endless mailboxes/archive rules/folders of the Outlook/Eudora/Thunderbird world. Gmail had:
* awesome search
* no folders ( but simple & powerful labels )
* virtually unlimited storage
* killer feature — the threaded view which I’m amazed hasn’t been copied by every mail provider (and conversely i’m amazed gmail doesn’t offer a non-threaded view for people who just hate the threaded model)
* really solid spam protection
In addition to gmail’s great features I found that I needed a google account to use i-google, google reader, google webmaster tools,etc and I quickly found myself just using the gmail address as my person email address, and forwarding all my old accounts to the gmail address. ( since then google has changed the google account setup so you can use a non-gmail address for google services )
I can still easily call up the Gmail welcome email:
You’re one of the very first people to use Gmail. Your input will help determine how it evolves, so we encourage you to send your feedback, suggestions and questions to us.
I recall emailing in and saying that they should support domain mapping so you could have firstname.lastname@example.org. Fast forward a few years, and google now has that option. I quickly set it up on google apps, made some DNS changes and was up and running in no time.
I’ve been using google apps for about a month now, and here are a few observations:
* the free version I’m using is perfect for my use. They do offer premium options of larger organizations.
* everything you would expect with gmail you have with google apps – including docs, calendar, etc
* the mobile blackberry app for google apps works great
* with the calendar there are some extra features for people “on your domain” to always have access to your calendar
* outside services that provide a way to grab your gmail address book ( such as facebook ) do not work with google apps – this could be considered a good thing for some people
* moving my gmail emails to google apps was relatively painless. Details & lots of discussion at Scott Hanselman’s blog.
If you have a blog at WordPress.com and are using a mapped domain as I now do with this blog, you can enable Google Apps for that same domain. Details are here in our faq.
Fix the “on behalf of” issue. If you use multiple email addresses, gmail and google apps are easy to setup to receive those emails. But when you send out using those non gmail/google apps addresses, certain recipients – especially those using Outlook – will see a “on behalf of email@example.com” in the “From” field.UPDATE: Now fixed.
Pretty much a no brainer. If you love gmail, want your own domain, and like having the safety to know that you can pop/imap your email, and move it at any time — google apps is a great choice.