G Suite

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G Suite
Gsuite logo.svg
Developer(s) Google
Initial release August 28, 2006; 10 years ago (2006-08-28) (as Google Apps for Your Domain)
Development status Active
Platform Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Jamboard and Vault.
Type Brand and software suite
License Trialware (Retail, volume licensing, SaaS)
Website gsuite.google.com

G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Your Domain) is a brand of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google, launched on 28 August 2006. It includes Google’s popular web applications including Gmail, Drive, Hangouts, Calendar, and Docs.[1] It also includes the interactive whiteboard Jamboard.

While these products are included for consumers, G Suite adds enterprise features such as custom email addresses at a domain (@yourcompany.com), 30GB+ of storage for documents and email, and 24/7 phone and email support.[2] Being cloud-based, the service also hosts customer information in Google’s network of data centers,[3] rather than traditional in-house servers located within companies.[4]

According to Google, more than 5 million organizations use the service worldwide, including 60% of Fortune 500 companies.[5]


  • February 10, 2006 - Google launched a Gmail for Your Domain test at San Jose City College, hosting Gmail accounts with SJCC domain addresses and admin tools for account management.[6]
  • August 28, 2006 - Google launched Google Apps for Your Domain, a set of apps for organizations. Available for free as a beta product, it included Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and the Google Page Creator which was replaced with Google Sites. Dave Girouard, then Google’s vice president and general manager for enterprise, outlined its benefits for business customers: “Organizations can let Google be the experts in delivering high quality email, messaging, and other web-based services while they focus on the needs of their users and their day-to-day business."[7]
  • October 10, 2006 - An edition for schools, known as Google Apps for Education, was announced.[8]
  • February 22, 2007 - Google introduced Google Apps Premier Edition, which differed from the free version by offering more storage (10 GB per account), APIs for business integration, and a 99.9% uptime service-level agreement. It cost $50 per user account per year. According to Google, early adopters of Google Apps Premier Edition included Procter & Gamble, San Francisco Bay Pediatrics, and Salesforce.com.[9]
  • June 25, 2007 - Google added a number of features to Google Apps, including mail migration, which allows customers to transfer existing email data from an IMAP server.[10] A ZDNet article noted that Google Apps now offered a tool for switching from the popular Exchange Server and Lotus Notes, positioning Google as an alternative to Microsoft and IBM.[11]
  • October 3, 2007 - A month after acquiring Postini, Google announced that the startup’s email security and compliance options had been added to Google Apps Premier Edition. Customers now had the ability to better configure their spam and virus filtering, implement retention policies, restore deleted messages, and give administrators access to all emails.[12]
  • February 26, 2008 - Google introduced Google Sites, a simple new Google Apps tool for creating intranets and team websites.[13]
  • June 9, 2010 - Google launched Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, a plugin that allows customers to synchronize their email, calendar, and contacts data between Outlook and Google Apps.[14]
  • July 7, 2010 - Google announced that the services included in Google Apps—Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Talk—were no longer in beta.[15]
  • March 9, 2010 - Google opened the Google Apps Marketplace, an online store for third-party business applications that integrate with Google Apps, to make it easier for users and software to do business in the cloud. Participating vendors included Intuit, Appirio, and Atlassian.[16]
  • July 26, 2010 - Google introduced Google Apps for Government, an edition of Google Apps designed to meet the public sector’s unique policy and security needs. It was also announced that Google Apps had become the first suite of cloud applications to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification and accreditation.[17]
  • April 26, 2011 - Nearly five years after the launch of Google Apps, Google announced that organizations with more than 10 users were no longer eligible for the free edition of Google Apps. They would have to sign up for the paid version, now known as Google Apps for Business. A flexible billing plan was also introduced, giving customers the option of paying $5 per user per month with no contractual commitment.[18]
  • March 28, 2012 - Google launched Google Vault, an optional electronic discovery and archiving service for Google Apps for Business customers.[19]
  • April 24, 2012 - Google introduced Google Drive, a platform for storing and sharing files. Each Google Apps for Business user was given 5GB of Drive storage, with the option to purchase more.[20] Observers noted that Google had now entered the cloud storage market, competing with players like Dropbox and Box.[21]
  • December 6, 2012 - Google announced that the free version of Google Apps would no longer be available to new customers.[22]
  • May 13, 2013 - Google increased the Drive storage quota for Google Apps customers. Google combined the 25GB on Gmail and 5GB on Drive, increasing it to 30GB total per user that can be used across all Apps products including Gmail and Google Drive.[23]
  • March 10, 2014 - Google launched the Google Apps Referral Program, which offers participating individuals a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user they refer.[24]
  • June 25, 2014 - Google announced Drive for Work, a new Google Apps offering featuring unlimited file storage, advanced audit reporting, and new security controls for $10 per user per month.[25]
  • September 2, 2014 - Google Enterprise, the company’s business product division, was officially renamed Google for Work. “We never set out to create a traditional ‘enterprise’ business—we wanted to create a new way of doing work,” explained Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. “So the time has come for our name to catch up with our ambition.” To reflect this larger change, Google Apps for Business was renamed Google Apps for Work.[26]
  • November 14, 2014 - In the free edition of Google Apps secondary domains are not supported. The free edition of Google Apps only supports domain aliases.[27]
  • October 2015 - Changing the primary domain (i.e., swapping primary and secondary domains) becomes possible using one of Google APIs in all editions.[28]
  • March 2016 - Changing the primary domain is no longer available for the free edition of Google Apps[29]
  • September 29, 2016 - Google announced that Google Apps for Work would be rebranded as G Suite.[30][31]
  • October 19, 2016 -Google's G Suite announced five new updates/features focused on supporting more of the existing workflows in larger companies and bringing more of Google's smarts to these apps.[32]


The range of G Suite products and services comprises Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Hangouts, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, Google+, Jamboard and Vault. With the exception of Google Apps Vault,[33] all are included in the basic plan, which costs $5 per user per month or $50 per user per year. A premium package, Drive for Work, includes Google Apps Vault plus unlimited storage is available for $10 per user per month.[34]


Launched in a limited rollout on April 1, 2004, Gmail is now the most popular web email service in the world.[35] It became open to all consumers in 2007. As of May 2015, 900 million people use Gmail, according to Google.[36]

The free consumer version of Gmail is supported by text ads related to the contents of people’s email messages.[37] Popular features include 15 GB of free storage, threaded conversations, robust search capabilities, and an app-like interface.[38]

While similar to the free version, Gmail in G Suite adds a number of features designed for business users.[39]

These include:

  • Custom email including the customer’s domain name (@yourcompany.com)
  • 99.9% guaranteed uptime with zero scheduled downtime for maintenance[40]
  • Either 30 GB or unlimited storage shared with Google Drive, depending on the plan
  • 24/7 customer support
  • G Suite Sync for Microsoft Outlook[39]

Google Drive[edit]

Google’s file storage and synchronization service was released on April 24, 2012,[41] at least six years after rumors about the product first began circulating.[42] Google’s official announcement described Google Drive as “a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.”[41]

With Google Drive, users can upload any type of files to the cloud, share them with others, and access them from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Users can easily sync files between their computer and the cloud with a desktop application for Mac and PC. This app puts a special folder on their computer and all changes made to files sync across Drive, on the web and across devices. The consumer version of Google Drive includes 15 GB of storage shared across Gmail, Drive and Google+ Photos.[43]

When offered as part of G Suite, Google Drive comes with additional features designed for business use. These include:

  • Either 30 GB or unlimited storage shared with Gmail, depending on the plan
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Sharing controls that keep files private until customers decide to share them
  • Advanced audit and reporting[44]

Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms[edit]

Google Apps includes online editors for creating text documents or document file format, spreadsheets, presentations, and surveys.[45] The set of tools was first released on October 11, 2006, as Google Docs & Spreadsheets.[46]

Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms work within any web browser or on any web-enabled mobile devices. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and surveys can be shared, commented on, and co-edited in real time. Additional features include unlimited revision history that keep all changes safe in one place and offline access that lets people work on their documents without internet connection.[47]

On June 25, 2014, Google introduced native editing for Microsoft Office files in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.[48] Echoing similar remarks in other articles, a Mashable journalist wrote, “Google is clearly positioning its apps as a more affordable solution for companies that need to occasionally edit Office files.”[49]

Google Sites[edit]

Introduced on February 28, 2008, Google Sites allows people to create and edit web pages even if they are not familiar with HTML or web design.[50] People can build sites from scratch or with templates, upload content such as photos and videos,[50] and control access permissions by choosing who can view and edit each page.[51]

Google Sites launched as part of the paid Google Apps suite but soon became available to consumers as well. Business customers use Google Sites to build project sites, company intranets, and public-facing sites.[52]

Google Calendar[edit]

Designed to integrate with Gmail, Google’s online calendar service launched to consumers on April 13, 2006. It uses the iCal standard to work with other calendar applications.[53]

Google’s online calendar is an integrated online, shareable calendar designed for teams.[54] Businesses can create specific team calendars and share them company wide.[55] Calendars can be delegated to another person to manage a specific calendar and events.[56] People can also use Google Calendar to see if meeting rooms or shared resources are free, and add them to events.

Helpful features of Google Calendar include:

  • Share calendars with teammates and others to check availability
  • Overlay teammates’ calendars into a single view to find a time when everyone is available
  • Use the mobile app or synchronize with the built-in calendar on mobile devices
  • Publishing of calendars to the web, and integration into Google Sites
  • Simple migration from Exchange, Outlook, or iCal, or from .ics and .csv files
  • Book shared rooms and resources[55]

Google Hangouts[edit]

On May 15, 2013, Google announced that a new text, voice, and video chat tool would replace its Google Talk, Google Voice, and Google+ Hangouts services.[57] Known as Google Hangouts, it allows up to 10 people for the consumer version and up to 15 people for the work version to join conversations from their computer or mobile device.[58] Participants can share their screens, and view and work on things together.[59] The Hangouts On Air service lets people stream live broadcasts to Google+, YouTube, and their websites.[60]

The version of Hangouts included with G Suite[61] supports up to 15 participants, and administrators can choose to restrict Hangouts to only people on the same domain, limiting the access of external participants.[62]

The Hangouts app keeps messages stored online in Google’s cloud, and offers an option to toggle off history if people want to go off the record.[63] And the Google+ integration saves every photo people share with each other in a private, shared album on Google+.[63]

On July 30, 2014, Google announced that all Google Apps customers will have access to Hangouts, including those without a Google+ profile.[64] Google also partnered to integrate with other video chat providers - like Blue Jeans Network and Intercall.[65] Google also announced that Hangouts is covered under the same Terms of Service as other G Suite products like Gmail and Drive. Apps for Work customers also get 24/7 phone support for Hangouts, 99.9% guaranteed uptime, and ISO27001 and SOC 2 certification.[66]

On December 19, 2014, Google announced via Google+ post that they brought back one of the most requested features for Hangouts in Gmail. The Apps admins have control to keep status messages to be only visible internally.[67]


Google’s social networking service, Google+, launched on June 28, 2011, in an invitation-only field trial.[68] Observers declared it Google’s latest attempt to challenge social giant Facebook.[69] While Google+ has since overtaken Twitter to become the world’s second largest social network after Facebook,[70] it has been criticized for disappointing users and failing to generate referral traffic.[71]

On October 27, 2011, Google announced that Google+ was available for people who use Google Apps at college, work and home.[72]

On August 29, 2012, Google announced that after receiving feedback from business customers that participated in a pilot program, they tailored Google+ features for organizations. These features include private sharing within organizations and administrative controls that restrict the visibility of profiles and posts.[73]

On November 5, 2013, Google added an extra layer of security for restricted communities that could only be joined by people in an organization. Administrators have the option to set restricted communities by default and choose when people outside of the organization can join.[74]

Google+ as a business network received mixed reviews from having features that help small businesses get noticed online[75] to confusing people over its branding[76] to being an important player in social marketing strategy for businesses.[77] Many online articles emphasize that having a Google+ presence helps businesses with their Google search result rankings since Google+ posts and shares are immediately indexed by Google.[78]

Google Vault[edit]

Google Vault, an archiving and electronic discovery service exclusively available to Google Apps customers, was announced on March 28, 2012.[79] Vault allows customers to find and preserve email messages and on-the-record Hangout chats that may be relevant to litigation. It also helps them manage business data for continuity, compliance, and regulatory purposes.[80] As of June 25, 2014, Vault customers can also search, preview, and export Google Drive files.[81]

Google Apps Vault is included as part of Drive for Work with unlimited storage, available for $10 per user per month.[82]


When prospective customers sign up for G Suite, they get a free 30-day trial for up to 10 users.[83] After the trial, they may choose either an annual plan at $50 per user per year or a flexible plan at $5 per user per month or $60/year. Both plans are billed on a monthly basis.[34]

With the flexible plan, customers have the option of adding unlimited storage and Google Apps Vault for a total monthly cost of $10 per user. For organizations with fewer than five users, storage is capped to 1TB per user with this option.[34]

Google Apps for Education, however, provides an unlimited amount of accounts per domain, with an unlimited amount of storage per account.[84]


Google has stated that they do not own the customer’s data. The data is stored in Google’s data centers, and access is limited to select employees and personnel.[85] They do not share data with others, will only keep data as long as required by the customer, and customers can take the data if they migrate off Google Apps.[86]

Google Apps offers enterprise-grade security and compliance, including a SSAE 16 / ISAE 3402 Type II, SOC 2-audit, ISO 27001 certification, adherence to the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, and can support industry-specific requirements like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).[87] Google claims that spam blockers are integrated into Google Apps with built-in virus checking and checking of documents before allowing users to download any message.[85]

Google ensures that all files uploaded to Google Drive are encrypted, and that every email sent or received is encrypted when being moved internally between data centers.[88] In a blog post, Google for Work stated that they offer strong contractual commitments to protect customer's information and they do not show advertisements or scan customer information for advertising.[88]


Google Apps claims that over five million businesses are using their tools, either the free or the paid version.[89] According to Google for Work President Amit Singh, 60% of Fortune 500 companies are using Google for Work services.[90] Customers range across industries around the globe including Uber,[91] AllSaints,[92] BuzzFeed,[93] Design Within Reach,[94] Virgin, PwC[95] and more. Many of the customers using Apps are featured on the Apps customer page.[96] As of July 2016, it trails, the more dominant competitor, Office 365[97]

Google resellers and referrers[edit]

Google has an ecosystem of resellers that help prospects get up and running on Apps. The Partner directory helps people find partners. On March 10, 2014, Google launched a referral program, that gives referrers $15 for every person who signs up.[98] This program initially debuted for anyone based in the US and Canada. The fine print of the referral program shows that people can refer an unlimited number of customers, but they’re rewarded for each referral customer’s first 100 users.[99]

On December 4, 2014, Google introduced the Google for Work and Education Partner Program which helps partners sell, service and innovate across Google for Work and Education suite of products and platforms.[100]

Google Apps Marketplace[edit]

The Google Apps Marketplace launched in 2010 is an online store with business-oriented cloud applications that augment Google Apps functionality.[16] The Marketplace lets administrators browse for, purchase, and deploy integrated business-oriented cloud applications. It is available for Google Apps, G Suite, and Google Apps for Education.[101]

Developers can also develop apps on the Marketplace, and sell apps and services in the Marketplace.[101] On March 6, 2014, Google shared that Google Apps customers have added over 200M installs from the marketplace since the launch of the Marketplace in 2010.

On September 17, 2014, Google released a blog post that employees can install third-party apps from the Marketplace without involving administrators.[102]


Google Apps has received many positive reviews online with an average of 4-5 stars on a 5 star scale.[103] Reviews praise Google Apps for its competitive pricing, all-inclusive suite offering, easy setup, and working well across devices.[104] Some negative reviews point out that Google Apps, Google Presentations and Google Documents lack the same level of features that provide professional-looking documents made in Powerpoint and Microsoft Word.[104]


The key competitor to the Google Apps suite is Microsoft Office 365—Microsoft’s cloud-based offering for businesses that includes similar products. Online reviewers vary as to which is the better offering. Reviews note that Google Apps and Microsoft 365 are similar in ratings but very different in features.

The key differences are in the pricing plans, storage space and number of features. Microsoft 365 tends to have a greater number of features than Google Apps, but many of them often go unused.[105] Google does not release revenue or user figures, making it hard for reviewers to compare Google Apps success to that of Microsoft Office.[106] As of October 2014, Microsoft has 7M customers for the Office 365 product and grew by 25% in the last quarter.[107] Microsoft also announced that it is giving away unlimited storage to customers who buy the cloud version of Microsoft Office 365.[107] [108]Additionally, academic institution that doesn't have Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus, individual students, faculty members, or staff can pay $79.99 for a four-year subscription to Office 365 University.[108]

There are currently no startups competing with Google Apps suite because the cost to compete on one product, like email, is too high and the revenue opportunity is hard.[107]

With Google Apps’ new SKU, Apps with Unlimited Storage and Vault, Google Apps has attracted new competitors - Box, Dropbox and OneDrive.[109]

Related products[edit]

G Suite is part of many other products within Google’s products for work.[26] These include Google Cloud Platform, Search for Work, Maps for Work and Chrome for Work.[110]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]