Microsoft v. Google Apps: Fact or Fiction?

Google, Microsoft
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Although this was to be expected eventually, Google seems to have jumped off their Application plank a little too prematurely in announcing that they are going after the enterprise market which what is arguably the feature set of an entry level web hosting provider. Mary Jo Foley offers an excellent “top 10 questions” any enterprise customer should ask before switching to Google Applications and they are literally shaming Google in a way that is just spectacular:

“1.      Google touts having enterprise level customers but how many “USERS” of their applications truly exist within the enterprise?

“2.      Google has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a “known only to Google” schedule – this flies in the face of what enterprises want and need in their technology partners – what is Google doing that indicates they are in lock step with customer needs?

“3.      Google touts the low cost of their apps –not only price but the absence of need for hardware, storage or maintenance for Google Apps.  BUT if GAPE is indeed a complement to MSFT Office, the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain.  Doesn’t this result in increased complexity and increased costs?

“4.      Google’s primary focus is on ad funded search.  Their enterprise focus and now apps exist on the very fringe and in combination with other fringe services only account for 1% of the company’s revenue.  What happens if Google executes poorly? Do they shut down given it will them in a minimal and short term way?  Should customers trust that this won’t happen?

“5.      Google’s apps only work if an enterprise has no power users, employees are always online, enterprises haven’t built custom Office apps – doesn’t this equal a very small % of global information workers today? –On a feature comparison basis, it’s not surprising that Microsoft has a huge lead.

“6.      Google apps don’t have essential document creation features like support for headers, footers, tables of content, footnotes, etc. Additionally, while customers can collaborate on basic docs without the above noted features, to collaborate on detailed docs, a company must implement a two part process – work together on the basic doc, save it to Word or Excel and then send via email for final edits.  Yes they have a $50 price tag, but with the inefficiencies created by just this one cycle, how much do GAPE really cost – and can you afford the fidelity loss?

“7.      Enterprise companies have to constantly think about government regulations and standards – while Google can store a lot of data for enterprises on Google servers, there is no easy to use, automated way for enterprises to regularly delete data, issue a legal hold for specific docs or bring copies into the corp.  What happens if a company needs to respond to government regulations bodies?  Google touts 99.9% uptime for their apps but what few people realize that promise is for Gmail only.  Equally alarming is the definition Google has for “downtime” – ten consecutive minutes of downtime.  What happens if throughout the day Google is down 7 minutes each hour?  What does 7 minutes each hour for a full work day that cost an enterprise?

“8.      In the world of business, it is always on and always connected.  As such, having access to technical support 24/7 is essential.  If a company deploys Google Apps and there is a technical issue at 8pm PST, Sorry.  Google’s tech support is open M-F 1AM-6PM PST – are these the new hours of global business? And if a customer’s “designated administrator” is not available (a requirement) does business just stop?

“9.      Google says that enterprise customers use only 10% of the features in today’s productivity applications which implies that EVERYONE needs the SAME 10% of the feature when in fact it is very clear that in each company there are specific roles people play that demands access to specific information – how does Google’s generic strategy address role specific needs?

“10.     With Google apps in perpetual beta and Google controlling when and if they rollout specific features and functionality,  customers have minimal if any control over the timing of product rollouts and features – how do 1) I know how to strategically plan and train and 2) get the features and functionality I have specifically requested?  How much money does not knowing cost?

“I invite you to speak with customers, partners and analysts who can validate Office’s business model.”

I must admit that I’ve been on the receiving end of Microsoft muscle at times, but my hat is off to whoever put the top ten questions above, they are head and shoulders above the tired FUD Microsoft uses against free and open source software and are just dead on attacks on the way businesses rely on software.

Will “GAPE” be another “Google Pack” or will it be a “Google Search”; Judging by whats on sale Microsoft and Microsoft Partners that relish on the complexity of these systems to provide value-add it’s good times ahead if this is the type of competition Google was thinking about bringing. A webmail & pop3 account. Yah, right.

One Response to Microsoft v. Google Apps: Fact or Fiction?

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