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 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.
|SharePoint Services 3.0
|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.
|Both products are free, but in order to run SharePoint you need to have Windows Server CALs.
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.