Google workspace vs M365 Business premium, struggling to decide

Hi All,

So I have recently purchased a private email address (custom domain) in an effort to consolidate and somewhat reset my online life, this is not a privacy related thing but purely my current email gets too much spam.
Now I could just use either Outlook or Google with their domains and have done of-course, however I wanted a custom domain so I can get the exact email address I wanted.

Now as a sysadmin IRL, and someone who is interested in security and device management tech I want to both improve my device security for learning purposes and also learn MDM solutions, but I have to settle into one environment of course.

So my two choices are Microsoft 365 Business premium or Google workspace business plus or enterprise (they both work out around ÂŁ15 per user), and I am struggling to pick, I have played around with both however.
So from my first impression Microsoft 365 while a little intimidating and clunky on the UX front, seems to be much much more powerful compared to Google on face value, not sure if I am wrong here, but at the same time I have experienced more issues with M365 to the point I got locked out of a domain trying to enable 2FA (there seems to be a fault with the SSO system), whenever I did this with Google and using APP I never had this issue.

My current devices are an iPhone, iPad and Macbook air, however as a sysadmin I support Windows daily, which makes me think I should go into M365 over Google, but I am not sure.

Can anyone put any light on the situation, the email/cloud storage is not my key requirement really, but the MDM features so I can practice MDM and security.

What are your thoughts?


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Welcome to the forum!

Disclaimer: I have not used M365 (the admin stuff I mean).

With Google, you can find resellers that offer the same package for cheaper, just that you pay them and they pay Google, instead of paying Google directly. The company I used to work for had around 70 employees and about 82 licenses (we had Business Starter with additional licenses, we had it since it was called GSuite). The costs went from 5 euros / user to about 7-8 euros / user and was supposed to go even higher, but we managed to keep this by switching from Google to a Workspace reseller. You are still in control of the domain and all the stuff, just that you give money to a 3rd party. It’s kinda like how travel agencies are supposed to work: getting better deals and you ending up paying less than buying plane tickets directly.

As for the Google Admin page, it is a little clunky, but gets the job done really well. A stupid limitation that I found was with searching the mail log (sent, bounced, received etc) mails older than a month, not sure if it’s just Starter pack or a general limitation to google services (you had to have a certain UID or something of the mail).

For the not-so-fun part, Google had a crapton, I mean, sometimes more than 3 times a day of notifications of disruption of services (getting solved, then failing again), going from gmail, to hangouts, to drive, to meet and more. To be honest, we didn’t feel them at all times, there was a time (quite recently) when we got daily mails from Google with disruption of services. We have been hit by Google a few times though, gmail, the most important service, did not work for half a day (failing to send and receive mails), about 3 times last year and 1 time this year. Also, Workspace Sync for Outlook sucks, this one was the most affected by service disruptions (and since people use Outlook a lot, they couldn’t send or receive mails). And the worst part was that it didn’t affect all users at the same time, so we had to debug stuff on the users end (obviously everything was fine there).

For the costs between Google and Microsoft, from our calculations we would get a better deal from Microsoft in the first 3 years, but in the next 5 years (so 2 years after the first 3 years) we would pay substantially more than just staying with Google for the same 5 years (assuming that the prices won’t change and our company won’t grow too much during this time).

Someone else has to chime in with the M365 experience. I believe it is a better service than Workspace to be honest (I used it while in college back when it was called Office 365). Now it seems like even a better deal with Teams instead of Skype (Google Meet feels subpar to Teams IMO, but the good part is that it works under Linux without installing anything special).

Also, have you taken into consideration self-hosting? Doing your own mail server, hosting a nextcloud instance and RocketChat or Matrix + Jitsi. You are responsible for the maintenance, but if a company has a full-time sysadmin, it should be cheaper (either have a small server cluster, or using a VPS). Albeit you won’t have any mobile device management features with those, just deleting / blocking accounts in your servers.

365 buis premium includes desktop apps.

also, having dealt with both… i prefer the admin features of 365. much more powerful and intuitive. however, yes, msft has shit QA.

thanks for the reply!

My issue with Google seems to be they seem to be limiting the device controls to lock you into their own MDM system, I was reading they locked out the device management API from third party systems like Intune, now I currently don’t use Android but if I enrolled some family members with none licensed accounts into Intune I would struggle, there are work arounds liking standard gmail accounts into the system but I haven’t researched it fully.

Coming from SCCM/AD the technology makes sense to me, however I don’t feel that should stop me learning competitors MDM systems, but when I played with Googles MDM it felt lacking, I also hear it struggles to manage MacOS properly?

The main thing for me is the google SSO, it seems much better and more widely adopted than Microsofts SSO, the only two sites I know who use this is LTT forums and Github (out of the services I use), but Google is almost everywhere.
And while OneDrive is good, especially on the application front as the Google drive sync system sucks, it feels like a GUI robocopy, I can’t help but feel GDrive just has some advantages, it also feels better to use, I think OneDrive was designed to emulate explorer.exe in a way, plus the collaboration systems on Google seem better.

I think I need a little more time to think on the situation, especially as Microsoft lock you into an annual contract, which is fine as I am doing the research up front so I don’t have to mess about switching providers later, and as part of this purchase is to learn MDM from whichever supplier, if I go Microsoft I am looking at getting an Endpoint defender licence (seen them at about £4 p/m per user) as I want to see how it interfaces with laptops and mobile.

Question also seeing as you have dealt with service providers, how are they towards home users? are they generally willing to sell to a home user?

Shit QA doesn’t cover it, they fired the entire Windows QA team back in like 2015 and begun to rely on insiders because they thought they could get a better understanding of different hardware variations, they didn’t seem to take into account 95% of users don’t know how to do a dump for devs, and a large percentage of them also don’t care about submitting bug reports.
But I agree, from what I have seen Endpoint 365 seems to be very powerful.

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I haven’t tried it for home use, as I have Cloud-phobia. My gut feeling tells me it shouldn’t matter, as you are paying a subscription anyway, but my instincts aren’t always trustworthy. Also, usually the 3rd party sellers do B2B (business to business) deals, so again, they may not necessarily be against home users, but YMMV.

As for MDMs, I can’t talk about it, since all we used was Linux and Windows and aside from Outlook and Thunderbird, we didn’t have any direct control over the laptops except for the admin user (which remotely it was useless without the user enabling the VPN). All we could do was lock google accounts, which would prevent a user from logging in to any other google services like meet and gdrive.