Does G Suite feature the ability to manage groups of users and systems in a way that is equivalent to GPOs (Group Policy Objects)? The short answer is no, it doesn’t. But to really understand why, we need to look at what Google is doing with their G Suite Directory and Google Cloud Identity solutions. This will allow us to understand – or at least take a guess at – the path G Suite is taking and whether G Suite GPOs are a real possibility or merely a nice concept.
The Beginnings of G Suite
G Suite really started in 2006 as Gmail. One year later, Google released Google Apps Premier Edition, which included Google Docs and Sheets. Google Apps revolutionized the world of email and productivity software by taking advantage of emerging cloud technology. The popularity of Google’s SaaS productivity platform skyrocketed – sending a clear message to Microsoft Exchange, Windows® File Server, and Microsoft Office. As the Google Apps platform continued to grow, business adoption grew with it. Today Google Apps for Work has been rebranded to G Suite, and more than three million businesses are paying customers (TechCrunch 2017).
The reason for G Suite’s success was pretty straightforward. With G Suite, IT admins could off-load the cost and effort of Exchange servers, Windows file servers for file storage, and Microsoft Office. On top of that, users could get easy access to their email, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations all from the browser. It was a win-win for the enterprise.
In response to the popularity of G Suite, Microsoft adapted many of their offerings and released Office 365™. Today, the two productivity platforms are in fierce competition, but that’s a topic for another post.
Why G Suite GPOs Don’t Exist
G Suite is the ideal replacement for much of the old on-prem Microsoft infrastructure, and as a result it often brings up a couple of questions for IT admins. Can the G Suite Directory be a replacement to Active Directory? Can Google’s concept of identity/device management services be a replacement for AD GPOs?