How to choose a Google Workspace plan

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New customers may choose any plan, but legacy G Suite customers will want to pay attention to pricing and features.

Illustration: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Google Workspace represents a rebranding of the set of applications formerly known as G Suite. The announcement signals Google’s desired direction: A unified workspace. Workspace pricing however, sends a more significant signal than the renaming of Google’s current app offerings (Figure A). Here’s a look at the new Workspace plans and pricing–along with a few key features customers might consider when selecting a plan.

SEE: Google Sheets: Tips and tricks (TechRepublic download) 

New plans and pricing for Google Workspace

Google Workspace now offers three Business plans (Starter, Standard, Plus) and two Enterprise plans (Standard, Plus). 

Google lists pricing for the Business offerings as:

  • Google Workspace Business Starter: $6 per user, per month
  • Google Workspace Business Standard: $12 per user, per month
  • Google Workspace Business Standard: $18 per user, per month

Figure A

Screenshot of Google Workspace pricing page, with per user, month pricing for Business Plans displayed (Starter $6, Standard $12, Plus $18).

Google Workspace offers three Business plans (Starter, Standard, and Plus) with published pricing and two Enterprise plans (Standard and Plus).

Pricing for Enterprise plans is not published. As a legacy customer when I walked through the upgrade process, the offers I saw included:

  • Google Workspace Enterprise Standard: $20 per user, per month
  • Google Workspace Enterprise Plus: $30 per user, per month

Of course, the per user pricing Google offers your organization for Enterprise plans may be different. Google requires that new customers who seek Enterprise licenses contact Sales. Note: There are no minimum or maximum number of users for Enterprise plans.

Google provides a comparison page with an overview that compares legacy G Suite Basic and Business plans to currently offered Business Starter, Standard and Plus plans (Figure B). 

Figure B

Screenshot of

For current G Suite customers, Google provides a detailed comparison of G Suite Basic and Business bundles to the three Google Workspace Business plans.

Current customers can either remain on a prior plan (e.g., G Suite Basic, Business, or Enterprise) through the terms of the plan or choose to switch to a new Workspace plan. No changes to G Suite Education or Nonprofit plans have been announced, other than Google’s intent to “roll out Google Workspace to education and nonprofits over time.” 

The adjusted prices align Google Workspace pricing more closely with Microsoft 365. For example, Microsoft lists pricing for their 365 Business offerings as:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $5 per user, per month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 per user, per month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium: $20 per user per, month

The following analysis compares key features of Business Starter, Business Standard, and Business Plus plans with legacy G Suite Basic and Business plans.

User limits

The Google Workspace Business plans all add one key constraint not previously present in prior G Suite plans: A maximum of 300 users. If you need more than 300 user accounts, you’ll need an Enterprise plan. Microsoft similarly sets a limit of 300 user accounts on their Microsoft 365 Business plans.

Storage limits

Per user limits for Workspace Business storage plan are:

  • 30 GB per user for Business Starter
  • 2 TB per user for Business Standard
  • 5 TB per user for Business Plus

Unlimited storage is now available only with Workspace Enterprise plans. 

Remember that files in native Google formats do not count toward a user’s storage limit–people may create as many Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Sites as desired. Files such as images (e.g., JPG, PNG), PDFs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other formats will count toward storage limits.

External sharing

Of the three Business plans, only Business Plus offers an administrator the ability to turn off external file sharing. Historically, G Suite Basic and G Suite Business both allowed an administrator to prevent external file sharing. 

Google Meet recording

Business Standard and Business Plus add the ability to record and save Google Meet video conferences. While Google had made recording available to G Suite users in support of COVID-19 work-from-home initiatives, recording had not been a standard benefit of either G Suite Basic or G Suite Business plans.

The maximum number of Google Meet participants for the plans are:

  • 100 people for Business Starter
  • 150 people for Business Standard
  • 250 people for Business Plus

Google’s feature comparison page lists several Meet features, such as polling and Q&A, breakout rooms, and attendance tracking. All of these features require a Business Standard or better account.

eDiscovery and retention

Google Vault is the organization’s offering to support administrative eDiscovery and data retention. Only Business Plus includes Google Vault, although organizations on Starter and Standard may select Vault as a paid add-on. When I browsed through my offered pricing, Vault displayed a $5 per user, per month add-on price. Historically, the G Suite Business plan included Google Vault.

How to choose a new Google Workspace plan 

If you’re a new customer, your task is relatively simple. Define your needs, then select the plan that best fits the balance of your needs and your budget.

If you’ve historically been a G Suite customer, an administrator can sign in to the Admin console to access account options. To do this, sign in at https://admin.google.com, select the three-horizontal line menu in the upper left corner, then choose Billing and select Get More Services from the sub-menu. 

For current customers, the Google Admin Get More Services page highlights available Google Workspace plans (Figure C).

Figure C

Screenshot from Google Admin console with current plan in a box, along with available Google Workplace Business and Enterprise options.

The Google Admin console displays Google Workspace plan options. This example shows plans for a G Suite Basic customer, along with Google’s assessment of whether the plan is an upgrade or downgrade.

The system also indicates whether the option might be considered an “upgrade” or “downgrade.” Select any of the options, and the system will display the details of key features your account will either gain or lose. Select your option, address any identified issues, and follow any step-by-step instructions to switch.

How to update G Suite Business to a Google Workspace plan

In recent years, I’ve been on the G Suite Business plan, which was $12 per user, per month. Here’s how I considered the three new Workspace options.

First, I could choose to spend the same amount: $12 per user, per month for Google Workspace Business Standard (Figure D). 

Figure D

Screenshot of side-by-side columns for G Suite Business and Workspace Standard, with 4 features listed as downgrades: number of users, storage, Google Vault, and Security and compliance.

For my G Suite Business account, the Admin console indicates that the plan with the same pricing, $12 per user per month, would be a downgrade. The Admin console also details the specific features that would change.

Google labels this a “downgrade,” since I would be allowed fewer users (300, not unlimited), less storage (2 TB per user, not unlimited), and would lose Google Vault, access to data regions, endpoint management features, and more.

Second, I could choose to spend more: $18 per user per month for Google Workspace Business Plus. Google also labels this a downgrade, since I would be allowed fewer users (again, 300, not unlimited) and less storage (5 TB per user, not unlimited).

Third, I could choose to spend even more: $20 per user, per month for Google Workspace Enterprise Standard. This is the first option that the Admin console labels an “upgrade,” since I keep the ability to add unlimited users, unlimited storage, and also gain some security controls.

According to the Google Admin panel offered options, I could:

  • pay the same ($12 per user, per month) for a downgrade of features;
  • pay $6 more per user per month ($18 per user, per month) for less of a downgrade; or
  • pay $8 more per user per month ($20 per user, per month) for an upgrade.

For the record, I upgraded to Enterprise Standard, simply because I value access to enterprise features for my writing and work. Of course, organizations on other plans will have different considerations and priorities.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of savvy IT adopters who selected G Suite (or Google Apps) in the past precisely because Google allowed an unlimited number of users for all paid plans. Will those customers choose to pay more? Or will they instead see this as an opportunity to explore alternatives? Let me know what you think of the new Google Workspace plans and pricing–either in the comments section below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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