Is CompanionLink Part of the Google Tax?

Img Credit: The Globe And Mail

Does Google Apps come with “hidden fees?” That’s what Tom Rizzo of Microsoft indicates in a recent blog post about the hidden costs of Google Apps. In fact, he refers to the extra costs as the “Google Tax” – the costs one would incur if they started using Google Apps to manage email, contacts, calendar, tasks, desktop publishing, and document management.

It’s no secret that many people are searching for a replacement for Microsoft Office. What’s most interesting, perhaps, is that they aren’t actually switching. In fact, Microsoft’s findings show that 9 out of 10 people use Google Apps in conjunction with Microsoft Office; not as a replacement for Microsoft Office. The “Google Tax,” however, still applies. Microsoft mentions CompanionLink as an example of a third-party application that is required if two-way synchronization between Outlook and Google Apps is desired. CompanionLink is part of the Google tax, claims Microsoft in a white paper they published.

Under the scenario where Google Apps is used in conjunction with Microsoft Office, CompanionLink is, in fact, a key component of the Google Apps ecosystem. CompanionLink allows people to keep their Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar in sync with Google Apps. In fact, CompanionLink supports any Google, Gmail, or Google Apps account – paid or free.

Arguably, people using paid Google Apps services don’t need to use CompanionLink. Google offers a tool called Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook as part of any paid edition of Google Apps. If you’re on a free edition of Google Apps or using a free Google or Gmail account, you don’t have this option and need to look at 3rd party software like CompanionLink.

Even with Google’s tools, however, paying customers are offered forum-based support only. To some degree, this makes sense – they are a cloud-based company, after all. Phone or email support may not fit the cloud model.

This is where CompanionLink really shines.

In addition to numerous advance features, CompanionLink provides both email and US-based phone support. CompanionLink guarantees the synchronization between Google and Microsoft Outlook works on day one and day 365.

So, is CompanionLink a part of a “Google Tax?” Maybe. But we feel strongly that the ability to pick up the phone and talk to someone is, on its own, well worth the cost of admission (which, by the way, is a one-time license fee of $49.95).

Google Apps Status Dashboard

Do you use any of Google’s services like Gmail or Calendar?  Google has released a new Status Dashboard that shows what the state of their services are.

You can access the Google Apps Status Dashboard here.

If your CompanionLink solution is giving a connection error when trying to sync with Google, you may want to check out this Dashboard first.  It might be that Google is having some problems.

Google taking aim at Exchange with Google Apps Connector for BES

Google just announced a connector product that will fight head-to-head with the traditional Exchange/BES corporate configurations that most mid- to large-size companies rely on for their email, contacts and calendar sync.

Google Apps Connector for BES is a solution that allows you to get “push sync” of your Google Apps contacts, calendar and email to the native fields on your BlackBerry.  This is big because it’s like getting the reliable push sync of BES without having to invest in Microsoft Exchange.

Here’s what you get with this new connector solution by Google:

# Messages sent to your Gmail inbox are pushed to your BlackBerry within 60 seconds.
# Emails read/deleted on your BlackBerry are marked as read/deleted in Gmail, and vice-versa.
# Synchronize BlackBerry folders with labels in Gmail.
# Search for email addresses and phone numbers of other users on your company domain.
# View your Google Calendar schedule on your native BlackBerry application, with one-way synchronization from Google Calendar to your BlackBerry device.
# Contacts in Gmail are automatically synchronized with your BlackBerry address book.
  • Contacts in Gmail are automatically synchronized with BlackBerry address book.
  • View your Google Calendar in your BlackBerry calendar, with one-way synchronization from Google Calendar to your BlackBerry. 
  • Messages sent to your Gmail inbox are pushed to your BlackBerry within 60 seconds.
  • Emails read/deleted on your BlackBerry are marked as read/deleted in Gmail, and vice-versa.
  • Synchronize BlackBerry folders with labels in Gmail.
  • Search for email addresses and phone numbers of other users on your company domain.

Users of CompanionLink software are in for a real treat.  With CompanionLink, you can plug into this fancy push sync system even if you use desktop software like ACT! by Sage, Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, GroupWise, or Palm Desktop.  

CompanionLink will sync your desktop software with your Google Apps account.  Once data is in the Google Apps account, the Google Apps Connector for BES along with your BES will do the rest. 

Essentially, you can use your desktop software as part of your enterprise-level push sync solution for as low as $29.95.