google apps

Here Comes Google Apps!!


Implementing Google Apps for Catholic Charities pt. 2

    In the last post I did about implementing Google Apps for Catholic Charities, I ended making mention of some of the limits that Catholic Charities had with its old email, web hosting, and content management company FireSpring. Namely these challenges were: 15 gig email limit for 200 people, no centralized email address directory, image based website template, semi hard to use content management system. Of those challenges, the email storage limit was the most pressing because they had been constantly going over their storage limit and it was beginning to affect their ability to send and receive email.

    In my experience, when trying to implement an email service solution there are only two broad ways of going about the implementation: onsite (self hosted), and offsite (in the cloud). Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses, and the method that is best for any given firm will depend on different aspects of the firm itself: there is no one solution that will work for every firm every time. In the case of Catholic Charities, cost was a big deciding factor because, as a non-profit organization, they don’t have money they can just throw at a problem. With this in mind, I had to search for a solution that would have a minimal financial impact.

    Right away, given the cost factor, a self-hosted Microsoft exchange server was kinda out of the question. It is not to say that self-hosted Exchange could not have solved the email and centralized contact list problems, but the investment into and Exchange solution would have been too much. There are several elements that go into the cost of an exchange server.

  1. The computer hardware where Exchange will be installed
  2. The computer operating system where Exchange will be installed
  3. The cost of the Exchange software itself
  4. The cost of the “seats”, or “CALs”, for people and devices to connect to the Exchange server
  5. The cost of maintaining the physical server and the server software

    Just to see how quickly the costs can add up, I can going to assume Catholic Charities would be buying retail licenses. In reality, as a non-profit, they might be eligible for certain discounts through various website and programs, but to keep it simple, I will treat them as a normal business. Another assumption I am going to make is that Catholic Charities will be buying the latest version of the available software. The reason I will be estimating my prices this way is because I would rather budget high, and end up spending less, than budget low and have to come up with more money. One more assumption I am going to make is that they don’t need to buy a new computer for the server, only new software.

  1. Because I am assuming there is a suitable computer that can be used (not always a safe assumption), the cost of the computer hardware is: $0
  2. In order to install MS exchange on a computer, the computer have to be using a server edition of Windows. The latest version of Windows Server is 2012. For our purposes Server 2012 should work fine. However, because of the licensing rules for MS Server 2012, Catholic Charities might need 2 server licenses because Microsoft licenses Server 2012 per set of processor cores. If the processor in the server computer is a quad-core (4 cores), then they would need 2 licenses. —- Cost: Approx $350 per license per Microsoft License Adviser.
  3. Because of the amount of people that would need access to the exchange server (about 200), Catholic Charities would need to purchase an enterprise version of MS Exchange. If they were to go with the “latest and greatest”, this would be MS Exchange enterprise 2013. —- Cost: Approx $1600 per Microsoft License Adviser. The standard version of MS Exchange costs Approx $650
  4. Every person / device wanting to access an Exchange Server requires a “CAL”. Because of how people in Catholic Charities would most likely be accessing their email, user CALs would be the best solution. —- Cost: Approx $80 per user
  5. Now comes the interesting part: the install. If I were the one doing the work, I would normally charge $40 to run a diagnostic on the server computer to make sure all the hardware is physically okay before installing the server software, $80 to install the OS. In this case, however, being as server stuff is not something I really do, we would need to outsource the work. This being the case, more people I know, and have asked, would charge anywhere between $100-$150 an hour for server work. With all the data that would need to be transferred from the legacy accounts to the new exchange server, I would estimate that there would be at least 50-60 hours of work. This comes out to be a little less than $10,000
  6. Running the math, the cost would be: ($350 x 2) + $1,600 + ($80 x 200) + ($150 x 60): $700 + $1,600 + $16,000 + $9,000: $27,300
  7. In addition to this, there is also the future maintenance costs associated with Windows and Exchange servers.

    So, at a cost of about $27,300, this was not going to be a very practical solution. Would it solve our problems? Yes. Would it be a good solution? Possibly, but it would not be adding any value over our current system other than more storage space and a centralized directory. With the way things work around Catholic Charities, one thing that we needed was a better way to share information and documents. Knowing this, I began looking at solutions with collaborative elements. This is when I came across Hosted Office 365 and Google Apps for Business. In the Next Installment, I will be going over my evaluation of these two potential solutions.

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