I'm a big fan of Google Apps for work. Of the three major solutions I use on a regular basis (IBM Connections, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps), it's easily the simplest to set up. In fact, I'd recommend it as the number 1 solution for small to medium sized companies. I haven't tried it in a large company setting but I suspect it might be a pretty good fit there too.
A Little about Timing
In the recent past, getting established on the IBM ecosystem (IBM Connections), took about a week, while getting onto Microsoft's systems took more than two weeks (and it still causes a lot of daily pain). By contrast, you can get yourself established, without needing any help, on the google ecosystem in less than an hour -- yes, it's that easy.
1. Go to the Google Apps for Work Site (https://apps.google.com/ - or in Australia, https://apps.google.com.au/) and click Start Here.
3. You'll be prompted to create your first user -- I always make this the Admin user.
- Provide a Name: eg: CompanyXYZ Support
- Provide your current Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. In the Section marked About Your Business provide
- A Business Name: CompanyXYZ Limited
- The Number of Employees: (2-9 is a good start, since one will be your admin user)
- Choose a country: eg: Australia
- Phone: +61 2 9999 9999
- Click Next
5. In the Business Domain address section,
- Choose Use a Domain Name that I have already Purchased
(if you already have one - these instructions assume that you do).
- You'll need to type your company domain name and click next.
- Note that you can choose to buy a New Domain
- The prices apparently start from AUD $9 per year including Automatic Setup. (very reasonable).
6. Setting up your Admin User
- The next section gets you to set up the first user in your domain (usually the admin user).
- Give them an email like email@example.com
- Give them a good Password
- Enter the Captcha
- Agree to the Terms
- Click Accept and Sign Up
7. The next screen asks how you would like to set up your account.
- Since I want to do this without support, I ignore the Google Advisor option
- Choose Set up on your own. (and click NEXT)
8. The next screen allows you to add people to your account.
- If you want to add a person, click Start
- Provide a First Name,
- Provide a Last Name
- Provide a User Name,
- Click Add. (Repeat as Required but remember you can set the users up later).
9. When you're ready to move on, click the box marked
- I added all user email addresses currently using @companyxyz.com
- Click Next
10. Next, Google wants you to notify your team.
- Personally I don't like notifying people this early into a new domain,
- I just used my own email address and sent myself a mail here.
11. The Next Steps are used to verify your domain
- Since we don't have a website YET, we're going to verify via CNAME.
- Click on - Choose a Different Method
- Choose Add a CNAME or TXT Record
- Follow the prompts.
- On your domain provider's web portal, (instructions may differ depending on vendors)
- Go into Manage Domains and choose your domain.
- Choose Edit AAA CNAME Records
- Go to TXT Records
- Set Hostname to @
- Set TXT VALUE to what Google gives you.
- Click Add. (this takes seconds).
- Google walks you through these steps, just tick them as you do them and you won't get lost.
12. After the TXT Record verification, you'll need to set up your mail domains.
- This is in your domain provider's interface again, probably near the TXT bit.
- Look for a way to edit the MX records.
- There are about 5 to add.
- Add the Record and the priority (one at a time)
- Each record should take seconds to add.
NOTE: Some domain providers such as Melbourne IT will give an error if you just paste the google records in. Their error is: "Zone Integrity Error: A Relative MX Record should point to an existing A or AAAA Record". All this really means is that you need to have a period (.) at the end of the record.
ie: Instead of: ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM
it should be: ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.
13 .Back at Google, Click Verify Domain and Setup Email
- At the "Your Domain is Verified" message, click Next
- At this point, technically, you're done.
14. All of this is on the free trial (so there's no payment)
- Google will recommend that you set up a payment option.
- Click Continue
- You'll be taken to the Admin Console where you can set up the billing
- You don't have to do that yet and can click cancel if you want.- If you do continue, Agree to the terms, click Continue.
- Fill in the Billing details and click Continue
- You'll be told that you're now subscribed. click Continue
16. Next we need to Set up one of our Users
- On the Admin Console, click Users.
- Choose your non-admin user
- Click on the three dots and choose change password
- You might want to deselect the "force password change" box too.
- Open a different browser, eg: Opera
- Go to https://mail.google.com/
- Login as your other user.
- Send an email to it from another application on your desktop.
- If all is working smoothly, the email will appear (and you'll be able to respond).
That's it.... You now have a fully functional Google Environment to explore.