Google Apps is a Web based e-mail, calendar, and document management system. Many companies and organizations use Google Apps as their e-mail solution because of the large storage space, spam protection and ability to login from anywhere with a Internet connection. Google Apps uses the standard gmail.com interface which you already may know and love but utilizes your domain name(yourname.com) instead of gmail.com.
Google Apps was developed as a replacement for the costly and clumsy Microsoft Exchange. Google Apps is considered a cloud application with no need for a in house server to maintain, backup and administrate.
There are many other features of Google Apps which you or your administrator can choose to turn on, such as chat system for everyone on your domain name, a integrated to do list, and many other features which are added regularly.
Google Apps Standard is currently free and gives you 10 users, 10 e-mail groups(e-mail forwards or aliases) and 7 gigs of storage space. There is a Premier edition available which allows for more users, more storage space, no advertisements and the ability to use Googles API system which gives you even more capabilities. The current price for Google Apps Premier is $50 year per user. So if you had 5 users it would cost you $250.00 a year.
Obviously the most used Google App, utilizes the same interface as gmail.com and gives you all the benefits of the Postini spam filter, the ability to automatically apply labels(similar to Outlooks folders) to e-mails, a filtering ability to automatically forward a e-mail, send a canned response or have certain e-mails skip the inbox all together archiving it. Archiving takes all of the e-mails in your inbox and stores them out of sight but easily accessible by searching or clicking on a label.
Google Mail grows with features regularly so it would be impossible to list all of the features and abilities. You are able to add certain features from Google Labs, features developed by Google employees but not yet integrated automatically.
Google Calendar is the Web based calendar system that comes with Google Apps. Google Calendar allows you to create multiple calendars viewable at once with the ability to share these calendars with other Google Apps and Google users. Depending on the permissions you set, those users can view your calendar, add events, restrict the even to busy hiding the details of the event, or even publish the calendar publically on your web site.
Google Calendar like every Google App of course is searchable which helps to remember times and dates of meetings and such. It has several different views, such as day, week and month as well as a agenda view.
Google Docs is the document management system that comes with Google Apps. Google Docs is designed to replace Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as the ability to create Google Forms. The best way to describe why Google Docs is great is to use this analogy. Lets say we are working on a proposal in Word, a budget in Excel and a presentation in PowerPoint. Before you would compose these on one computer and then e-mail them to someone you wanted to collaborate with. They would then make changes and send it back to you and if there is a 3rd person involved then there are 3 copies. With Google Docs, you simply share documents with other users and grant them permission to edit or view. If multiple people are working on a document at once you a handy chat window pops in the browser to allow you to communicate with them in real time.
Once a document is finalized, you can then export it as a Word document, PDF and any other format you need. You also have the ability to e-mail the document as a attachment so the recipient would even know that the document was created with Google Docs. Like all Google Apps you can quickly search for a document as well as create folders and sub folders to allow for your own personalized organization.
Google Sites allows you to build Web sites utilizing their WYSWIG web site builder. It’s mostly commonly used for Intranet’s(internal company web sites) which allow someone with no html knowledge to quickly and easily update the web site. The pages allow for commenting, uploading of documents and can help manage a large team.
Companies currently using Google Apps :