11 min read
Feb 22, 2017
Applications Suite

Should Your Small Business Upgrade to G Suite?

Google rebranded its apps for work as G Suite, giving Google Drive for small business and its friends a more professional feel. Is it worth upgrading?

Suzie BlaszkiewiczAnalyst

G Suite? Google Apps for Work? Google Suite of Apps? Google Drive for small business?

What exactly is the difference between these terms?

Actually, nothing. What's now officially been rebranded and revamped as G Suite from its former official name of Google Apps for Work (and lots of unofficial nicknames like Google Drive for small business or Google Docs for small business), Google's pinned down its suite of apps for business as G Suite. This is part of Google Cloud, which encompasses all of Google's Enterprise offerings.

Good. Now that we've cleared that up, do you actually need it? You're a small business all-too familiar with using Gmail and Google Drive, Docs, and Sheets to communicate and collaborate with your team. You're not quite sure why you should start using G Suite, a fancy-pants, paid for version of Google's free offerings.

G Suite starts at $5 per user per month for its Basic offering, going up to $10 per user per month for more features and storage, even offering an Enterprise plan for an undisclosed price.

I'm not saying that you should or shouldn't pay for the advanced features offered in G Suite- that depends on what you need. If, however, you are considering making the switch, the newly rebranded G Suite offers some features that might be worth paying for. I'll break down the difference between G Suite and plain old Google apps, highlight some new-fangled perks of G Suite, and give you the low-down on security so that you can decide if it's worth taking the plunge.

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Gmail, Hangouts, and Google Drive for small business

As one of the most popular email service providers, you're likely already familiar with Gmail and its smart inbox, access to its chat platform Hangouts, and its connection to Google's storage center Drive. How do these functions differ in G Suite?


Gmail is the cornerstone of any Google account.

  • Without G Suite: If you've set up a Gmail account, you'll get an account@gmail.com email address, as well as storage space of 15GB that includes anything stored in both Gmail and Drive.

  • With G Suite: G Suite ups the ante with an account@yourcompany.com email address, letting you tailor your email to your company name and create mailing groups under aliases like sales@yourcompany.com . You also get double the space, with 30GB of combined Gmail and Drive storage.


Hangouts (formerly known as GChat) is Google's answer to chat and video conferencing.

  • Without G Suite: You can chat with up to 100 people in one conversation, while its video calling feature lets you talk to up to 10 people.

  • With G Suite: Google's updated Hangouts with two new features: Hangouts Meet, and Hangouts Chat. Hangouts Meet lets you have video conferences with up to 30 people using only a shared link, without the need for external participants to sign-in or download any plugins. Hangouts Chat is its mobile app for chatting with colleagues, which creates virtual chat rooms to talk about projects, letting you attach files and folders from G Suite within chats for more seamless communication.


Google's storage center is the place for team collaboration and file sharing, revolutionizing real-time collaboration in Sheets, Docs, and Slides.

  • Without G Suite: You get 15GB of combined storage with Gmail and Drive. You can categorize files in folders and use the star or search feature for quick access to any file. You can also share files with colleagues for editing or collaboration purposes simply using their email address.

  • With G Suite: You get 30GB of storage, with the option to upgrade to unlimited storage for $10 a month per user. If you're planning to use Google Drive for small business, another expected feature still in beta is Team Drive , which will let teams have one centralized drive where they can all access docs, instead of having to provide permissions for each individual doc or folder.

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G Suite gets smarter

Along with its rebranding as G Suite last year, Google's also added some pretty powerful machine-learning capabilities to its slew of GSuite apps like Docs, Sheets, and Calendar.

  • Docs: What used to be Google's research capability in Docs (where you could search the web straight from your Google Doc) is now Explore, which uses machine intelligence to recommend related documents or images for your text, or give you related documents in your own Google Drive.

  • Sheets: If, like myself, you aren't a formula aficionado, Google Sheets has added an Explore feature too. If you're ever short a formula, you can use plain language to tell Sheets what kind of data you're looking for; Explore will then use Natural Language Processing to suggest a formula for you. So, for example, if you type "what is the average number of visitors per post" in a sheet with your traffic numbers, it'll suggest a formula for you based on the data in the sheet.

  • Calendar: Calendar from G Suite has a smart scheduling feature that predicts when you and your colleagues will be available and suggests meeting times based on that availability.

  • Drive: If you're using Drive for Android, you'll see a handy Quick Access section, which will suggest documents that you've recently interacted with or that you might need based on your calendar or communication with colleagues.

  • Sites: Sites is G Suite's answer to an intranet where your employees can access all the information that your company wants to share with them. Drag and drop functionality lets you create your own tailor-made site, with security settings to limit access or to make it visible to external employees. Of course, Sites are optimized with intelligent mobile responsive designs.

  • Cloud Search: Tying it all together, Google's used its own powerful search algorithm and applied it to G Suite in the form of Cloud Search, which is basically a smart search function that lets you looks for files, emails, folders, or even people in your company directory. Basically, anything across the organization that you're looking for, Cloud Search intends on finding it. It will also give you smart suggestions based on what you may have previously been interacting with.

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What about security?

Security has always been the elephant in the room for large enterprises considering Google as their software suite of choice for collaboration, but G Suite has amped up its security in order to be able to play with the big boys. This includes being ISO 27001 certified, an international standard for security, as well as FedRAMP certification for its G Suite for Government and Education offerings. Aside from certifications, there's also more control.

  • Vault: Archive messages and emails, and set it up so that they are automatically deleted after a set time frame, or kept longer than the standard time for retention purposes. You can also search for content in closed accounts, as well as get audits and track activity. Vault costs an extra $5 per user per month.

  • Admin: G Suite has amped up its admin controls, allowing for better management of data. The controls let administrators set up or revoke access on desktop and mobile, and add things like two-step verification. Its mobile device management ( MDM ) gives administrators the ability to manage devices with sensitive company data on them, even with a BYOD (bring your own device) policy.

G Suite users also get 24/7 customer support via phone or email.

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Worth the cost?

It's clear that Google is taking all of the right steps to position itself as a more serious choice for businesses looking to make a move to the cloud. If you're already using Google's apps, it's an easy transition to G Suite. If you're using something like Microsoft Office 365, it might be more difficult to justify making the switch.

But, it's obvious that there are benefits to upgrade to G Suite. While some of the features are more for convenience (Quick Access, Explore), others really extend the usefulness of the product (branded email, more storage, and Team Drive) and protect users (security).

If you're curious to at least try G Suite, you can do so by starting a 14-day free trial.

If not, compare G Suite to Microsoft Office 365 to see how they stack up against each other.

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