This post of mine has got nothing to do with my most recent employment at Google. Yes – one thing that did affect my decision was that I had used all these Google tools extensively when I was at Google an hence the advantages (and disadvantages) were pretty clear to me.
We have gotten Google Apps for Your Domain (GAYD) for our domains. We got the standard edition which is free and has saved us a lot of IT headache in the beginning. We had our e-mails configured within few minutes with some MX record changes and don’t have to worry about maintaining servers or the servers going down every other day. From my previous short experience at a start-up, something as simple as maintaining a server for e-mail could be such a huge overhead that we just could not afford at this stage. Even the company which is designing our logo could not deliver our first draft in time because their e-mail servers were down and now they may have to use a personal id. Best of all, with GAYD you get a GMail like interface with your own e-mail id…
Besides e-mail, there are other applications that were very helpful for us. Since Abhaya is not in India right now, we had to interact on-line all the time. Google Docs and Spreadsheet that you can share and simultaneously edit came to our rescue even while discussing complex financial statements! Docs helped a lot in discussing everything from business model to product design and architecture over IM! I am already using calendar. Currently there isn’t away provided by Google to sync it with all kinds of mobile devices (except blackberry). But I am using GooSync for the time being for my E90 and its working very well. With the launch of Google Sites, I am planning to use it for our Intranet.
One thing we have not evaluated is when our needs grow more complex, would the upgrades GAYD provide as paid option still remain the best value for money. But we’ll figure it out later. Given that Google does not try to lock your data in, we should be fine even if we need to move out.
While we are talking about Apps for your domain, I must mention the excellent service nettigrity has given to us in domain registration and initial hosting. Their customer service is simply excellent. You get replies within minutes and keep getting it until your problem is resolved. And this has been very consistent. We have used them even for batldastudents.org for over four years now and they have never let us down. We have registered several domains, all with them. We also took a basic hosting account to play with our website. Unfortunately their hosting plans are not quite economical if your space and bandwidth requirements are large. We can get much better plan at US based service providers including godaddy.com. So our ultimate hosting is going to be elsewhere, but if your requirements are simple (a static or simple e-commerce site), I would strongly recommend going with nettigrity. These guys are just too good with their support even for basic plans you subscribe to.