203 Comments

Summary:

A few months ago, at the insistence of some of my team members, we switched from Zimbra to Google Apps for our own domain offering. The argument was that Google’s quality of service, thanks to its great infrastructure, would be great and that we could also […]

A few months ago, at the insistence of some of my team members, we switched from Zimbra to Google Apps for our own domain offering. The argument was that Google’s quality of service, thanks to its great infrastructure, would be great and that we could also use Google Docs for easy sharing of information.

And since everyone on the team (barring me) loved the Gmail interface, I acquiesced to their wishes. I shouldn’t have. Six months later we are getting frustrated by schizrophrenic nature of the Google Mail system. At the time, these ideas looked like they were all such great ideas in theory — but six months later we are all experiencing all sorts of problems with Google Mail.

Messages are either not getting sent or being lost by the system. Several people have complained about not receiving replies, even after we have sent them back. The mail system hangs up and you keep waiting for something to happen. And don’t get me started on the sub-par IMAP features of the system. How is one supposed to run a business on such an unreliable platform? The integration of Google’s services remains a distant dream, reminding us of the limitation of its competence beyond search and advertising.

And in order to get support we would need to upgrade to a premium version of the service that could set us back by $1,200 a month year. I don’t mind paying, but if their recent track record is any indication, I might as well light a cigar with 12 $100 bills. For the longest time I though we were the only ones with this problem. Apparently not. At least two other friends with startups who are using Google Apps for their domain are finding similar issues.

That is why I feel terrible for those 1.5 million Australian school kids who will now have to use Gmail instead of Exchange/Outlook. In some ways it’s like jumping from fire into the frying pan (being heated in that fire.)

Are you experiencing those issues as well? Go ahead and kvetch in our comments!

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  1. My Gmail is just great – I wouldn’t go back to another system if you paid me (and Google hasn’t/doesn’t pay me)

  2. We are using Google Apps for our organization which provides 84 of our active members an email account. Unlike you guys, we haven’t had any issues so far. We’ve been with them since last year.

    Sorry to hear that.

  3. We have a school with 30 employees running on it for the past year, no issues at all.

  4. Stacey Higginbotham Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    I hate it, primarily because it’s a pain to sync with BlackBerries. Sure it can be done, but the beauty of Exchange and BlackBerry is that it’s easy and doesn’t require a lot of extra effort. Maybe if it worked with Gears, I’d give it more of a chance. I never thought I’d dream of Outlook.

  5. Gmail has been fine for me since I switched late last year. I use the web interface on my Mac, and the Gmail IMAP implementation on my iPhone. That said, it’s a personal account not linked to Google Apps for a specific domain.

  6. Alan Wilensky Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    I am nit having your experiences; Gmail, for me, is one of the most reliable services I have ever used. I am possibly too dependent on it.

    I would, however, like to have a video of Om Malik lighting a Chocolate Cigar with a burning wad of monopoly money!

  7. Wayne Schulz Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    I am using Google Apps for Domains. Switched from an outsourced Exchange provider roughly 6 months ago (for similar reasons as you stated).

    The last week or so I have seen what you are talking about. I have periodic hanging when trying to send an email. I wouldn’t say that this has been a constant problem — more likely if it happens I’ll continue for three or four additional times within the space of a couple days – then things seem to go back to normal.

    My iPhone seems less “lucky” with the imap integration to Gmail. I’ve always had lengthy “stalls” periodically when trying to retrieve email via the GMAIL imap setup. I can’t figure out if it’s my phone or GMAIL (I’m guessing GMAIL but have no proof).

    For all that GMAIL can do wrong, it has several things I love.

    First, if you’re on a Blackberry – you can get push email to your device without needing to use an expensive BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server). If you use one of the Sprint Simply Everything plans you won’t even need to pay for the BIS (Blackberry Internet Server).

    Second, the spam filter is rock solid. On Gmail you would not even know that a Spam problem ever existed.

    Last, I love that I get into Gmail with any web browser at any time.

    Oh yeah — I do not miss the constant grinding away as some third party program struggles to index my outlook email. Instead I rely on Google to do all the searching of my inbox.

    Overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives — however I admit – GMAIL can be frustrating.

  8. Adwait Ullal Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Om,

    Since you’ve given up smoking, I would suggest donating the $1200 to charity :)

    – Adwait

  9. Sorry to hear you’re having problems. I use the GMail web app for my person email, IMAP on my WinMo phone and also have lightly used the Google Apps email for my domain.

    The only problem I’ve ever had was with IMAP when it was first released and they only tested it with the phone with the smallest market share (iCrap). HTML emails caused huge problems for WinMo users which account for a much, much larger market share and it took them several months to fix it. Hopefully all the angry WinMo users made Google realize how stupid it was to not test with the largest user base. Other than that I haven’t had any problems.

    Like Mark said, I wouldn’t switch to another email system even if you paid me.

  10. I am only using Gmail through IMAP, I have 2 Gmail accounts. One is working fine, the other keeps having some connections issues (password rejected sometimes, can’t update the folders, etc.). Which is weird since both accounts are set the same way in my email reader.

    I am glad that I am not the only one with Gmail IMAP issues. Fortunately, I do not rely exclusively on Gmail. I guess we get what we paid for.

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