A friend of mine has started his own company (MicroISV) and asked me to advise him on how to setup some basic collaboration and CRM.

When you are starting a new company, you should focus on core business stuff, and having a dedicated SharePoint server (if that is not your core business) is not a good idea. Lead with that premise I decided to advise him to use Google Apps for collaboration and SalesForce.com for CRM (you will be able to to read more about SalesForce.com vs. Microsoft CRM in a later post).

When we are talking about emailing and calendaring, GMail is definitely the best web based email system. Google Apps business edition is easy and FREE [:D], so this is a great choice for a start-up. On February 28th 2008. Google introduced a new Google App called Google Sites. When it was announced, some bloggers even commented that it might be The SharePoint killer. However, it is not.

Google Sites

Google designed Sites to allow you to collaborate with your team. However, this app is not integrated with Google Docs so you are not so flexible as with SharePoint (you will have to use two applications for full blown collaboration). (Sample Google Site)

Sites offer you something similar to SharePoint Team Site: lists, pages and search. If you are looking for something else… SharePoint is still the right choice.

General comparison

Feature Google Sites SharePoint Services 3.0
Availability star_five star_three
You can setup Google Sites in matter of minutes. On the other hand Microsoft does not provide a hosted edition of SharePoint. There are partners who offer that, but I recently had a very unpleasant experience with a SharePoint Hosting provider. If you are thinking about hosting your SharePoint with a partner, please send me an email.
Price star_five star_three
Both products are free, but in order to run SharePoint you need to have Windows Server CALs.

Features comparison

Feature Google Sites SharePoint Services 3.0
First impressions
2
star_five
Concept of lists is similar. However SharePoint lists are superior to those used by Google. SharePoint lists offer views, datasheet editing, integration with Office tools…
Edit in a datasheet view
star_one star_five
This feature is only available in SharePoint, and most people find it to be very useful.
List views and templates
star_one star_five
This feature is only available in SharePoint. Google sites also do not support grouping and filtering. You cannot save a list as template; there are only a few built-in templates available.
Field types
star_one star_four
SharePoint supports 10+ field types, Google sites are limited to only a few types. You can crate new field types.
Usability star_three star_four
Google has a slightly different concept when it comes to editing and adding a list item. They are using a lot of AJAX and popups. I generally like the concept but it still not stable enough. My browser crashed a lot of times while working with these lists. Microsoft concept is more traditional but more stable, however some features are only available for IE.
Alerts
2 star_four
Google Alerts are very limited. Only OnUpdate alert is available without summary alerts and additional filtering.
Extensibility
star_one star_four
There is no option to extend Google sites programmatically, there are no web parts… You cannot modify page layout (there are some built in templates).
Workflows
star_one star_five
Workflows are not supported in Google Sites.
Search
star_four star_four
Search is a built-in feature for both products. There is still room for improvement, but both are functioning correctly.

Conclusion

As you can see from previous tables, Google Sites are easier to setup and configure, but SharePoint offers more features and flexibility.

Microsoft has invested a lot in their S+S strategy so we will probably see some SaaS offerings in months to come. Microsoft is already offering Office Live Small Business which is based on SharePoint. I am activly testing some of these applications, so I will try to provide some real exprences in posts to come.

So if you need some serious collaboration you should choose SharePoint between these two. But if you are looking to create an ad-hoc site for quick collaboration Google Sites might be the right choice.

3 Comments

  1. Tom Resing Says

    Toni,
    Interesting comparison. I like your table formatting.
    I agree Google Sites is unimpressive. I was hoping for more.
    That Office Live Small Business link didn’t work for me. Is it the same as http://workspace.office.live.com. That’s a neat site with some potential for Google Docs competition.
    Also, have you heard of Micrsoft Online Servcies?
    http://www.microsoft.com/online/default.mspx
    It’s hosted SharePoint in beta. I’m also not impressed with that, but again, potential.
    I use WebHost4Life for WSSv3 hosting. It’s a little slow, but functional.
    -Tom

  2. Toni Says

    @Tom: Thanks for the update. All these MS services are potential but I am waiting for beta phase to end before I can present these to my customers.

  3. walterbyrd Says

    To me, it does not seem like the same thing at all.

    Using sharepoint, I can drag my spreadsheet file into my sharepoint page, the other people can use that spreadsheet.

    I don’t see where google sites is the same thing at all. Google sites seems to be a different concept. Google sites is about putting together a web site – not document management.

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