G Suite vs. Office 365

Written by Rajat Bhargava on October 1, 2016

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There isn’t a more intense competition in the market than the fight between Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365. In a lot of ways, it’s a holy war between these two IT behemoths.

Google Apps (G Suite’s previous name) has led the charge for a number of years and essentially forced Microsoft into building their Office 365 solution. Now that Microsoft has O365, G Suite has been taking it on the chin.

G Suite versus Office 365 is a heavyweight fight that will be interesting to watch.

Pros and Cons of G Suite and Office 365


From JumpCloud’s perspective, one very interesting point about both solutions is their lack of directory services and identity management capabilities. In this post, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of G Suite and O365, while sharing how JumpCloud is the central, authoritative identity provider for both cloud platforms.

Whether you choose G Suite or Office 365 really depends upon your needs, the IT infrastructure, and your team.

G Suite Wins Over Cloud Forward Organizations
g suite google gif

When Google Apps emerged, many startups jumped on the platform. It made it much easier for them to handle their backend infrastructure. They didn’t need to purchase servers for their office and worry about email servers like Microsoft Exchange.

The business model was also great because it was basically $5 per user per month, which was far cheaper than doing it themselves. If anybody needed more powerful productivity software such as Microsoft Office, they would just buy the suite and install it on their machine.

Often, these organizations were also leveraging macOS laptops or desktops. And, their data center infrastructure was largely AWS and often Linux. As a result of this infrastructure, a solution such as Microsoft AD or Exchange never would make sense.

O365 isn’t nearly as attractive to these types of organizations because they are largely not tied to the Microsoft ecosystem or platforms.

Office 365 is a Knockout for Traditional Businesses


On the other end of the spectrum, there exists a large number of organizations that currently use AD or Exchange. They are likely predominantly Windows-based.

They have likely been around for a few more years and probably have a more formal approach to IT. Note that the approach may not be as aggressive or cloud-forward as the G Suite customer base, but they are likely more systematic and formal.

For these organizations, the move to Office 365 is a natural choice. These organizations already very likely have a relationship with Microsoft and may even have an ELA in place. Microsoft O365 is likely more cost-effective because they are likely already paying for Office licenses today.

Opting for the Best of Both Worlds

Interestingly, many organizations are opting to purchase both platforms. We have seen this pattern more and more. The organization may have started on Google Apps and will continue to use that as their email hosting platform and often for communication services such as Hangouts. But, the productivity suite of Microsoft Office is far stronger and generally preferred, so organizations leverage O365 for that capability.

The two can co-exist without issue, but you do need to choose only one for email services.

Neither Delivers as a Standalone Directory

The challenge for IT admins that purchase either of these platforms is the lack of directory services. Each platform looks to an on-prem Active Directory or OpenLDAP instance as the authoritative identity provider. Of course, IT admins that have moved to the cloud want to move their directory services to the cloud as well. Unfortunately, G Suite directory services and Azure Active Directory aren’t viable options for a core, authoritative identity management platform.

Unified Cloud Directory with G Suite / O365

jumpcloud g suite integration

As a result, IT admins search for a cloud identity management platform and find Directory-as-a-Service®. Tightly integrated with both G Suite and O365, Directory-as-a-Service securely manages and connects user identities to the systems, applications, and network those users need. In fact, GApps or O365 identities can be leveraged for access to machines, cloud servers, on-prem applications, web applications, and WiFi authentication through the cloud directory service. In conjunction with G Suite or O365, IT admins now have a completely cloud-based IT infrastructure.

If you would like to learn more about whether G Suite is better for you or if O365 is, drop us a note. We’d be happy to tell you about our experiences. Also, as you think about picking either G Suite or Office 365, consider complementing it with a cloud identity management platform such as Directory-as-a-Service.

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