What’s the best cloud road to follow: Google Apps or Microsoft Online Services?

For many organizations it is clear that moving your e-mail and documents to the cloud is the right way to go. During the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference several resellers shared their experiences with both Google Apps and Microsoft Online Services and why they decided to choose for Microsoft. Of course these guys are more in favor of Microsoft, but still there’s a lot we can learn from them. Besides, I really agree with them.

For some time Google Apps was the only possibility

About four years ago we at Goyello decided to start using Google Apps to have our e-mail and calendar service hosted by Google. We didn’t feel like wasting time and money on managing it ourselves. Since then Google Apps has evolved a lot and we still like many of its features, but for sure it has some drawbacks as well. Since several weeks the first serious alternative for Google Apps is public available: Microsoft Office 365.

EligeoIT just switched from Google to Microsoft

Derek Major, CEO of the Canada based EligeoIT, focusses with his company on small businesses with up to 100 workplaces. When he started the business over 4 years ago he performed an intensive competitor analyses and decided to replace their Lotus Notes solution by Google Apps. At that time it was one of the best available solutions for them, free as well. After implementing it for themselves they became a Google Apps reseller. Anyhow, recently they decided to leave Google. The major reason was the lack of support. Google did not react quickly on their issues and communication was poor.

Besides, if you have used Google Docs, you will know it’s hard to import Office documents, the layout will be screwed up. Their clients were complaining a lot about this.

Another important reason is the hidden costs for Google Apps. The yearly fee Google invoices is just the peak of the iceberg. There are many hidden costs.

Last February they decided to switch to Microsoft Online Services. By now also all their clients have been migrated. The power of the Microsoft online services solutions is reliable support, brand recognition, reliability, a lot more integrated functionality and ease of use.

Wortell and Valorem Consulting have similar experiences

Domnick Parretta, CEO of Valorem Consulting and Danny Burlage, Wortell both have a lot of (previous) experience with on premisses solutions.

Danny explains that Steve Ballmer’s WPC “we are going to the cloud” presentation 4 years ago shocked him. He wasn’t thinking about the cloud yet. After WPC he investigated the opportunity and discussed it with his clients. Today 30% of their business is cloud impacted and this is expected to grow up to 80% next year. He just had the feeling Microsoft had a better offer than Google and decided to go the Microsoft road.

Some years ago a big client approached Domnick requesting them to investigate to move from a Lotus Notes solution toward the Microsoft cloud solution. In that year this deal was among the 10 biggest cloud deals for Microsoft. The interoperability and the future extension of the platform were the main reasons to choose Microsoft. In his opinion Google is moving consumer technology into a business solution and that didn’t give him a good feeling. Another client demanded offline access of documents, which Google Apps offered for some time. But Google decided to switch off this feature. The lack of a clear roadmap stating what features would be offered in the upcoming time was the major reason for this client to consider a Microsoft test. Thanks to a successful test they decided to choose Microsoft.

Danny mentions that he has been facing many Google Apps users who decided to switch back after some months, basically due to the poor integration with Outlook and Office.

Microsoft’s current offering is really powerful

For some time Google Apps was really a feature rich cloud solution. Unfortunately, may be due to a lack of competition their development seems to have slowed down.

On the client side I can imagine that for cost reasons the Google Apps solution seems to be the way to go. But this won’t make many Office “addicted” users very happy. That’s what I can confirm as a long-term Google Apps user as well. Besides, you might run into many hidden costs after implementing Google Apps that you didn’t thing about before. A good total cost of ownership calculation will have to be made.

For sure Google Apps can be a sufficient solution for many clients, but if you really want to make your Microsoft “addicted” users happy Microsoft is the way to go. The Office 365 roadmap I’ve seen this week at the Worldwide Partner Conference in LA combined with the Windows Phone 7 plans will offer the business users a very powerful cross-platform solution. By the end of this year you will be able to access your e-mails and files from every Microsoft based endpoint, whether this is a PC, slate or Windows Phone.

I’m in and I if you want to hear why feel free to contact me. I would love to have a discussion with you to make you decide what’s best for you. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter: @PetersOpinion.

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