As soon as I saw Google Calendar for the first time, I knew I’d ultimately be faced with a difficult dilemma: is it suitable for RedMonk’s collaboration business? Our need, of course, has been well documented. The arguments for Google Calendar, likewise, are fairly straightforward to anyone who’s used the application. It’s fast, easy to use, and provides thoughtful features like SMS notification.
The arguments against are more subtle. There’s the fact that it’s free, of course; for many businesses, RedMonk included,free is a paradoxical barrier to entry because it’s difficult to trust something you don’t pay for. But that, in my mind, at least, is surmountable. Especially if Google offers a for pay version.
But what of the technical obstacles?
- Email Integration:
One the nice things about Exchange/Outlook is the integration between calendar and email. Gmail/Gcalendar have this – and actually go one better than the Microsoft combo by reading every message, not just invites – but due to this limitation we cannot currently use Gmail as a front end for our work email. In theory, this could eventually be addressed via Google Hosted, but that’s putting even more of our enterprise eggs in the Google basket – which I have questions about.
- Which Calendar?
One of the things I’ve been struggling with since moving most of my schedule into Google Calendar is what the best way to use it is. I have two basic types of events – work and personal – and two general audiences – you guessed it: work and personal. Google offers the functional ability to create and maintain separate calendars, and granularly adminster permissions on each. But I’m finding a fair amount of overlap between the two, and managing them individually is tiresome. When I travel, for example, I’d like that to be seamlessly reflected in both calendars so that both audiences know when I’m out of town. Currently, however, I need to create the appointment in one calendar and copy it to the other. The various solutions I’ve entertained – selective read only access, collapsing to a single calendar, etc – have one drawback or another. It’s interesting, because the problem here is not a lack of functionality, but rather a lack of understanding as to how to use it. Anyone have any bright ideas here?
- URI Access to Calendar Resources:
Despite the above, Google Calendar is one of the top three collaboration options (along w/ Joyent and Zimbra) under consideration at the present time. In the next two or three weeks (because of travel), I’ll sit down with Cote and James to try and determine just what we’re going to use, because the status quo just isn’t acceptable. What are your thoughts on Google Calendar (or alternatives) – pro or con?