Gmail for Your Domain
I decided since I already use Gmail for my email anyway, I figured I might as well take the plunge and use Gmail for phoneboy.com. I signed up for the "beta" earlier this week and got a note in my inbox today saying it was available for my domain. Eager to try something new and exciting, I jumped in and gave GFYD a shot.
Here are some screenshots of the interface for your amusement. Commentary will be provided in-line.
As you can see, you can create up to 25 accounts under your domain. This implies they may let you have more accounts if you're willing to pay, though their help forums suggest you can request more accounts by asking for them. The 25 account limit is more than enough for my needs, though there is a gotcha that might require you to use more of these accounts than you might think. See below.
Also, until you are able to point the DNS MX record for your domain to Google's servers, you will not be allowed to send email via your GFYD accounts. Even after you have made that change, as I have, it still "takes a while" before it lets you sign in. As a bonus, your users are warned when they try and send email via the web interface.
You can get a list of your accounts and find out how much space they're using. The limit for each account is 2gb and, unlike a regular Gmail account, it doesn't increase. Still, 2gb is plenty of storage.
When you create a new account, you are given the option to give a temporary password (which the user must change after logging in) or you can set a permanent password. Getting the password to the end user is, of course, your responsibility.
You can create an "email list," which is basically an alias. Notice you can only forward emails to accounts within your domain, which is kind of a bummer. You can work around this by creating a new User account, logging into that user account, and going to Settings > Forwarding and POP and change the forwarding address there. Kind of a pain, but it works.
Some interesting features here:
Catch-all for the domain: Basically takes [email protected] and forwards it to one of your accounts. This is a feature that some ISPs have. Personally, I turn this off. I get so much spam…
Google Chat: Your GYFD email addresses suddenly become valid Google Talk accounts. Nifty.
Contact Sharing: This is way cool for business users. Not a feature that I am personally going to use, but I can see how a business might like this "contact sharing" feature.
Another feature, which I am not going to waste a screenshot on, is the ability to import a CSV file with account information in this. This will allow you to create accounts en-masse. Very cool.
Each GFYD account also gets their own Google Calendar account. This is very handy in a corporate setting. I found a use for it myself, which is to "store" the moderation schedule for one of the FireWall-1 Gurus mailing list. I have a rotating cast of characters (someone different moderates each week). Now I have a place to store it where all of the moderators can see it.
I've also noticed the [email protected] syntax you can use in Gmail isn't valid in GFYD accounts. The +whatever can be used to "filter" email into different folders. Very slick. Doesn't appear to work on GFYD accounts.
All in all it's a good first attempt at this. My biggest gripe is needing to create a user account to do off-site forwarding. Seems wasteful to me.