- Secure Video Meetings
- Seamless Share Screen
- No Download Required
- Schedule & Join from MS Outlook
Every piece of software application which we see today is created either as a solution of an unsolved problem OR as a better version of existing solution.
This also includes Google Workspace Essentials.
So What is Google Workspace Essentials?
Google Workspace Essentials is a new collaboration suite from Google which allows functional teams & organizations to leverage Google Workspace’s collaboration and video conferencing functionality along with their existing email and calendar solution.
Before I talk about Essentials in details, first, let me give you a quick overview of Google Workspace as it is really required to understand, “Why Google Workspace Essentials”?
Google Workspace Overview
Google Workspace is an enterprise class messaging and collaboration suite offered by Google, which includes products like Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive, Meet, Chat, Sites and much more. It allows businesses to create professional email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org along with additional security and controls.
Now, if Google already has Google Workspace as a solution, why did they come up with Google Workspace Essentials?
If you have this question, Bingo!!!, we are right on track to understand it well.
There are two concerns with Google Workspace (at least in the context of understanding need of Essentials here)-:
Concern : If you are a small functional team within a big organization and want to use Google Workspace just for your team, you can not, as you do not have required IT privileges for domain verification.
Concern : If you are either happy or under contractual obligations with your current messaging provider, and exclusively want to leverage Google’s collaboration and video conferencing applications, you can not, without signing up for complete Google Workspace.
I mean, you can surely turn off the services you do not need like Gmail and Google Calendar, but you would still need to pay for them.
These functional teams can sign up for Google Workspace Essentials with just their work email address (instructions provided later in this post).
Organizations (and their IT Teams) can also extend Google Workspace Essentials to whole company for secure collaboration via Google Drive and secure video meetings via Google Meet without a need to change their current messaging system for emails and calendar.
When/If your organization is ready to start leveraging Gmail and Google Calendar, there is an easy defined path to upgrade from Google Workspace Essentials to Google Workspace (which we’ll see later in this post).
* Only available in Google Workspace Enterprise Essentials, detailed comparison between Google Workspace Essentials & Enterprise Essentials is covered later in this post.
If you have read the section above, I think you already understand the difference between Google Workspace Essentials and Google Workspace.
However, to summarize in simple terms, you can think of Google Workspace Essentials as a sub-set subscription from Google Workspace where primarily you get all Google Workspace applications except Gmail, Calendar, Chat & Tasks, so that organizations can leverage Google’s collaboration and video conferencing along side their existing email and calendar system.
Should you sign up for Google Workspace Essentials?
I can see following cases where you may consider signing up for Google Workspace Essentials :
Can you sign up for Google Workspace Essentials?
Can you sign up for Google Workspace Essentials or not really depends on where you are in your journey to leverage Google Workspace for your messaging and collaboration.
I have put together this decision tree flow chart, which might be helpful to understand whether you should / can sign up for Google Workspace Essentials.
If you are with me so far, and convinced that Google Workspace Essentials can indeed help your teams become more productive, your next question would be ‘how would it cost me’?
so, how much is Google Workspace essentials pricing?
Google Workspace Essentials has two pricing plans (i) Google Workspace Essentials, which costs $10 per user per month, whereas (ii) Google Workspace Enterprise Essentials costs $20 per user per month.
Pricing is based on monthly active users, where active user is defined as any user who hosts or joins a Google meeting or use Google Drive (e.g create, open, view, download files).
Let me show you the functionality difference between Google Workspace Essentials and Enterprise Essentials.
Let me explain some of the features mentioned in above table :
(i) Outlook Calendar plugin : Google offers plugin for Microsoft Outlook which allows your Windows users to create Google Meet video conferencing link right from Outlook calendar.
(iii) Context Aware Access : It allows you to create conditional access policies based on user and device context (e.g IP or location based access, device based access etc).
(iv) Advanced Protection Program : It is designed to protect Google accounts against targeted online attacks. It includes a curated group of high-security policies that are applied to enrolled accounts, you can learn more about it here.
All you need to sign up for Google Workspace Essentials is your work email address, where Google would send you a confirmation code, once you verify that you own this email address. You would be all set to use Essentials for your team.
Let me show you how to sign up Google Workspace Essentials step by step now.
Go to Google Workspace Essentials sign up page to get started, if you plan to go with Enterprise Essentials plan, you would need to contact Google sales team.
In this post, I would show you how to sign up for Google Workspace Essentials plan.
Once you are here, click on “Get Started” to start the sign up process.
Note : If you get an error like this domain is already using Google Workspace Essentials, then you can not sign up, you should rather reach out to your IT Admin as they already signed up for either Essentials or Google Workspace.
Google would send you an email to confirm that you own the email account you provided to sign up for Google Workspace Essentials.
Go to your work email account, look for the email that Google sent you, and click on “Verify email address” button.
Note : If you do not see this email in your inbox, do check your spam / junk email folder.
Provide the required personal information including First Name, Last Name, Country, and then click on Next.
Google should now start creating your Google Workspace Essentials account (cozy space:)
Once your account is created, you can login to it, you can either go to https://gsuite.google.com/u/1/dashboard OR you directly login to applications like drive.google.com, meet.google.com etc.
Enter your work email address that you used to sign up for Google Workspace Essentials
Enter the password you created when signing up for Google Workspace Essentials
Read the Google’s terms of service, once satisfied, click on Accept
You may consider updating your password recovery information, otherwise click on Confirm
Now, you should see the Google Workspace Essential plan and pricing details, click Next
Enter your company / team details
Enter your address
Enter your payment method (e.g credit card or debit card) details and click on Next
Your account creation has now been done, click on “Get Started” button
You are all set, you would see a welcome screen by Google, which includes a link to help article on how to use Microsoft Outlook with Google Meet.
If required, click on this link to setup your Outlook to create Google Meet invites right from your Outlook calendar
You can access all Google Workspace Essentials by clicking on the Launcher icon as shown in the screenshot below
You should have received a welcome email from Google, that includes a link to your Google Workspace Essentials Admin Console as you see in the screenshot below.
You can also directly login to Google Admin Console at admin.google.com, you would need to enter your work email and password (which you used to sign up for Essentials).
If you signed up for your Essentials just for your team, then you would want to invite rest of your team to create their Google Workspace Essentials accounts. Let me show you how to do it.
Once you are in Google Workspace Essentials Admin Console, Click on Users
Note : User’s email address should be on the same domain, you can not invite users with personal email id (e.g gmail.com, yahoo.com) or email on any other domain that the one you signed up with.
Invited users can be seen under the “Pending Invites” as shown in the screenshot below.
Once these users accept the invite, they would move to Active users tab.
Invited user would receive an email (similar to the one shown below) which would have a link for them to sign up and join your Google Workspace Essentials team.
Invited user would need to (read and) accept Google’s terms of service.
User would be provided an option to update account recover information.
Now invited user has an active Google Workspace Essentials account, and can access any of the applications either from the Launcher or directly going to application URLs (e.g drive.google.com, meet.google.com).
As an Administrator, you would now see that invited user has moved to the Active User status.
Google Workspace Essentials also allows you to send bulk invite to your users, to do this:
You csv file would have just one column with users’ work email address as shown below.
You should now come back to your Google Workspace Essentials Admin Console –> Go to Users –> Click on “Bulk Invite Users” and upload the csv file you prepared.
You should be able to see the result of your csv file processing with Google Admin Console as shown in the screenshot below.
If everything goes well, you would see all the users you bulk invited under the “Pending Invites”.
If you are a functional team within an organization, you can simply sign up for Google Workspace Essentials with your work email address (no IT involvement required) as you see above.
However, If you are an IT decision maker, and want additional security controls, then you may consider verifying your domain to Google.
Once you verify your domain ownership, lot of additional security controls would be available in your Google Workspace Essentials admin console.
Below is a list where you would see some of the additional controls you get with domain verified Google Workspace Essentials setup.
Note : It is not a complete list, rather some of the prominent differences between email vs domain verified Essentials setup.
If you are ready to gain more security control, you should verify your domain ownership to Google.
I would be verifying my domain ownership via TXT record creation, but Google offers other ways to verify your domain too.
You must have access to either your domain registrar console OR your web host depending on where you have your name servers pointed.
This domain ownership verification would not impact your existing systems (e.g your website, emails etc) in any way.
Let’s start our domain ownership verification now…….
Login to your Google Workspace Essentials Admin console at admin.google.com entering your email address and password.
Click on Domains as shown in the screenshot below.
You would see two options here, click on “Manage Domains”.
Read Google’s note, and then click on “Verify Domain Ownership”.
Google would tell you that you would gain additional security controls once you verify the domain.
Click on “Verify your domain now”.
You would be taking over the ownership of your Google Workspace Essentials from the team who signed up, hence Google would highlight that it’ll send an email notifying of this change to existing essentials users.
If you are are satisfied, click on “Continue to domain verification”.
Google would try to detect your domain name provider so it can show you the relevant instructions to verify your domain.
You may also click on the dropdown and select your DNS provider to see respective instructions.
Now Google would give you a TXT record, which you should copy as you would need to create an entry in your DNS with its value.
Once you create an entry in your DNS, you may consider doing a lookup to confirm that it is reflected.
I would use Google Workspace toolbox (https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/) but you may use look up provider of your choice.
Once the TXT record is reflected in your DNS, come back to Google Admin Console and click on verify.
You domain should now be verified.
Google would send the email to all your Google Workspace Essentials existing users at this time.
This email should look like this.
Now you should see the additional administration and security controls in your Google Workspace Essentials Admin Console.
There might be scenarios where you would want to upgrade (or downgrade) from various different Google subscriptions to Google Workspace Essentials.
In this section, let us look these scenarios in more details along with upgrade / downgrade instructions (where possible).
Upgrade from Google Cloud Identity to Google Workspace Essentials
Google Cloud Identity is the most basic subscription for managed Google accounts, for e.g If you are a Google Cloud Platform customer, you already have Google Cloud Identity where you create your identities (e.g users, groups).
As a Cloud Identity customer you would have already verified your domain to Google, and now it is very simple for you to upgrade to Google Workspace Essentials.
(i) Login to your Google Cloud Identity Admin Console, under Billing, click on “Get More Services”.
(ii) You would see all the subscriptions for you to try here, click on “Start Free Trial” to try out Google Workspace Essentials.
Google would show you information about Google Workspace Essentials, click on “Get Started”.
You should read the terms of Google Workspace, accept them and click on “Continue”.
You should now have an active Google Workspace Essentials subscription (along with Cloud Identity) ready for you to use.
Google Workspace Essentials to Google Workspace Upgrade
If Google Workspace Essentials have been helping your organization become productive, and now you are ready to transition even your email and calendar to Google, then you can upgrade to Google Workspace.
If you have verified your domain ownership, then it is very simple to upgrade to Google Workspace Enterprise as you see below.
Note : At the time of writing this article, Google Workspace Essentials customers can upgrade to Google Workspace Enterprise, upgrade to Google Workspace Basic or Business is not supported.
(i) Login to your Google Workspace Essentials Admin Console, and from under Billing, click on “Get More Services”
Click on “Start Free Trial” for Google Workspace Enterprise.
You may read about the additional functionalities and security controls here, and then click on “Get Started”.
Select your payment plan (e.g flexible or annual) and then click on Continue.
Accept the terms of Google Workspace, and then click on Continue.
You should now have an active Google Workspace Enterprise subscription including all the data your users had in their account (e.g Google Drive) while using Google Workspace Essentials.
Google Workspace Essentials offers suite of collaboration apps on your own domain. It comes with two pricing plans.
If you are looking for Google Workspace Essentials like functionality for free, they you may either use your existing gmail account or create a new one.
This error indicates that someone from your organization has already signed up for either Google Workspace or Google Workspace Essentials.
If you get this error, then you would not be able to sign up for essentials, you should contact your IT administrator to join Google Workspace or essentials.
It seems Google has not yet published the pricing of Google Workspace Enterprise Essentials plan.
I would keep an eye and would publish the pricing here once Google announces it.
When you sign up for Essentials with your work email address, this account can later be taken over by your organization’s IT team.
Once that happens, they can control /own the data, so I would recommend you to only use Google Workspace Essentials for business purposes and not personal.
Ideally, in that case you should be leveraging Google Cloud Directory Sync or Directory API.
If by chance, you use any identity provider for centralized user lifecycle management, then you should check if your IdP supports provisioning to Google, as most of the prominent IdPs do that.
You may see my Google user lifecycle management via Okta guide as a reference here.
It seems Google Workspace Essentials SKU is not yet part of Google’s Enterprise License Management API (https://developers.google.com/admin-sdk/licensing/v1/how-tos/products), so assigning bulk licensing via Directory Sync or API is not possible.
You may consider leveraging Google’s auto license assignment feature in admin console, once you do that, your newly added users would automatically be assigned Google Workspace Essentials license (Note : For this, you should have more than one Google subscription, if you only have Essentials subscription, you may add “Cloud Identity” free subscription as a second one).
Do you want to know who attended your Google Meeting and for how long? This self service tool can help.
Used by over million Google Workspace Admins to bulk create, Update, suspend, delete, export Users, Groups, Members & Aliases.
Understand Google Conflicting Accounts, how are they created, their impact, deal with them, restrict them.