January 3, 2015 by Pete
A Good Thing While it Lasted (Google Apps Free Legacy)
I first signed up with Google apps for Business shortly after December 6, 2012. If you are familiar with Google Apps for Business, this is an important date. Before this date, you got Google Apps for Business for Free. Now you have to pay either $5 or $10 per user per month. It is still a good deal. And Google has excellent phone and online support and service that just makes sense. It is easy to find answers and tutorials for getting things done. I’ve had to work with Microsoft Hosted Exchange Support for over four years and it is a significant difference. I much prefer the support I’ve had from Google, both simply reading online user walk-throughs and on the phone.
I took advantage of the free accounts (limited to 10 users per account) with two personal sites, and for a non-profit that I work with. So three different admin accounts, 3 x 10 users = 30 users. At the time, and still today, I thought, “what a great deal”. Google was helping out small organizations an easy way to customize their email addresses”. Well now that is gone. Now you have to pay. (Although I do think you can still have a Google apps account with 1 user with limited functionality for free).
My last blog post detailed How I changed 20 employees from Microsoft Hosted Exchange to Google for Business. We didn’t just change email providers, we also changed web domains. One of the last steps of the process was to add our original domain as a domain alias. Until this step, our Microsoft Exchange email addresses were simply forwarding users emails to the new domain hosted by Google. Users didn’t really have a way to reply using their old email address unless they logged into Microsoft Online.
I ran into a road block when I tried to add our old domain as an alias in Google Apps. The Control Panel told me: “This domain name has already been used as an alias or domain.” Strange, I thought. Our email is hosted with Microsoft on the old Domain. How can we have a Google Apps account? After some digging and working with Google support, I found out that we had created an account in 2010 that afforded us not 10, but 50 free accounts.
Fifty user accounts with Google Apps is the equivalent of $3,000 per year worth of email service (minus support, Outlook integration, and 99.9% SLA uptime guarantee, and the accounts are limited to 15 GB instead of 30GB). Despite these exclusions, I trusted my personal email with gmail for years, so despite the restrictions of the legacy free service, it is a great deal.
I faced a dilemma. I just spent hundreds of hours moving to a new domain with a paid version of Google Apps for Business. Now it comes to my attention that I am also in control of a grandfathered legacy version of Google Apps for Business account that could accommodate up to 50 users per year for free. The savings for just the 24 people we already have signed up is $1,440. Per year. Every year. That is a like a trip to Europe. Even the helpful Google support contact on the phone was chuckling outloud – “If I were you, I would just use the free version”. There is no easy way to merge accounts. I would have to re-migrate hundreds of thousands of emails.
I thought about this for a few hours and talked to some people I trusted and decided not to waste further time on it. I would leave things the way they were. We don’t want to be in a position to not have paid Google support and an SLA. When I finally also saw the comparison of what I would be missing – notably the Outlook / Exchange sync, it was obvious what I had to do.
Unfortunately, there is no way to transfer a Google Apps Account to a new domain. So I couldn’t transfer these grandfathered legacy benefits. But I needed to free up the domain’s identity with Google Apps because I need it as an alias. I logged in and deleted the account. You’ll notice in the photo below that afterwards, I reached my max at just one user. I was a little sad. 🙁
But I still have three other accounts with Google Apps that are in the 10 user legacy version. If only I could transfer or merge the domains.
Happy New Year,