Hands on with the Google Apps administrator interface

AKA, "Administering Google Apps vs. Live@Edu"

Zack Whittaker put together a great gallery of the Live@Edu administrator interface, calling out a variety of features in the web-based collaboration platform that would be important or appealing to sysadmins. While Live@Edu is primarily a subset of Exchange Online with a smattering of Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) thrown in for good measure, it's interesting to note that the administrative side of Google Apps is more like that of Live@Edu than it is different.

Google Apps for Education has been criticized for lacking the administrative granularity of Live@Edu. I've actually been one of those critics, although recent improvements with group policies has made Google Apps more than adequate for most educational (and many business enterprises). In fact, Google Apps has always (usually quite successfully) walked the line with ease of use and simplicity on one side and a lack of administrative power and control on the other.

Microsoft's cloud-based offerings have walked the same line, but more often erred on the side of features. Neither is a bad approach; they're simply different. However, for the relatively savvy user who, as is often the case in education, steps in to bring a new system to users (imagine the power user/teacher who wants his class to be able to collaborate on documents together and have school-sanctioned email, but has no real system administration experience), Google Apps has always been a great choice.

That being said, with Microsoft rolling out its Office 365 for Education this year, Google will need to continue to up its game for new users and power users alike.

For now, though, let's take look at the administrative interface for Google Apps for Education (the interface is quite similar for the free version of Google Apps, Google Apps for Business, and Google Apps for Education, but some features are missing from the standard "Google Apps").

Click here to see the gallery and be sure to compare it with the Live@Edu gallery that Zack posted. The fact that Zack's gallery has three times as many screenshots as mine either means that he's a student and therefore has far more time on his hands than I do or that there is simply a lot more to administering Live@Edu than there is to running a Google Apps instance. Talk back below and tell me which one you think it is.