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Why are Businesses Leaving Google Apps?

Why are Businesses Leaving Google Apps?

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Security Concerns. Hidden Costs.  Document Fidelity.  Marketing Hype. No Support. Lack of Roadmap.  Oh My!

(NOTE: this is a duplicate entry from previous week due to blog platform migration at Microsoft)

These are a few of the reasons that the organizations I've spoken to have either left Google Apps or simply put it 'through its paces' and realized it's more pony than horse. 

You can check out our new site of customer testimonials.  In fact, this entire week, I'll be highlighting similar customers and partners stories, even guest blog entries. Phaeton Automotive blogs about why they left Google Apps on the Exchange Blog. TransCorp of Nigeria also blogs why they picked BPOS over Google Apps at the MS Online Blog.  Please also read Chris Capossela's blog on Productivity Applications and the Cloud.  UPDATE: Serena Software announces they are leaving Google Apps.  Read the customer blog.  CapGemini announces their partnership to sell BPOS. NZ Rugby Union announces they have picked BPOS over Google.

Customers Say:  "Google Apps isn't Business Ready."

Google's heritage is in advertising. Google Apps was born from consumer applications designed to serve more advertising. There is nothing wrong with this.  The Consumerization of IT is very real. However, when you start telling customers to use your consumer product as an enterprise solution, you have to at least deliver the basics - provide support, implement meaningful SLAs, understand enterprise customer's real concerns about security and privacy, invest in innovation that matters and deliver a real roadmap.

On the latter, Google Apps strategy continues to vacillate. Last week, they were touting Google Apps as a complement that "works well with Office". In April, they touted Google Apps as "an Office replacement", while simultaneously admitting that the Google Apps architecture 'hit a wall' and needed to be rewritten.  With less than 3 weeks' notice, they pulled offline access for an indefinite period of time and then suffered a widespread outage due to the fact they had deployed 'preview' code into the production environment used by paying customers. As a result, many of Google's customers are hitting walls of a different sort with Google's whimsical and 'see what sticks' approach to the applications their people rely on to get work done.

Rather than just hearing it from me, let's hear from customers who have tried Google and decided to go with Microsoft solutions:

  • "Google Apps is not an enterprise-class solution. It's a consumer solution, and we did not want to risk our business on it." - Credit Immobilier de France
  • "The Google applications just weren't robust enough to compete with Office Outlook functionality," - James C. Nolan Law Firm
  • "The Microsoft online and offline applications complement each other. Google is online only and posed compatibility and formatting issues" Competitiveness .

Customers Say:  "Google Apps can require more work for IT."

Google claims to have 'no dependency on desktop' software, but some customers quickly found that that in order to "Go Google" they needed to deploy software on the desktop!

For example, IT might need to run and maintain additional servers with Google LDAP Server Sync Tool, separate Postini Directory Sync Tool, separate Free Busy Sync Tool for co-existence while also deploying the following to every users machine;  a Gtalk client,  Video Conferencing Add In, an Outlook Sync Tool, Google Gears Add In  and recommended new browsers. 

Again, customers are finding they experience increased support calls, greater end-user training costs, loss in productivity and challenges collaborating with customers and partners:

  • "Many of the things you normally expect to be able to do at an enterprise IT management level were not available with Google Apps-things like the ability to easily manage groups and users." Vinci PLC
  • "Google has Google Docs and Google Sites, but what's the point of having Google Docs when everyone is working in Office Word...If I threw Google in the mix, I'd have to code all that integration." Kellwood
  • "The ability to have an archiving solution that integrates more fully with our e-mail system gives us a level of integration that we never had before when we using the Google Apps platform" - Phaeton Automotive Group

Customers Say: "$50 per user doesn't get you much."

Finally, there's the attractive price.  Even if you ignore all the labor, support and hardware costs mentioned above, other hidden costs quickly emerge.  Take a hypothetical example of a 10 person business that requires email, lightweight document editing, Microsoft Office document synching, digital signatures and workflow.  The first two are clearly included for the $50 price point.  But for the rest of these basic features, the customer must now buy additional software: OffiSync $12/user/yr for Office synchronizing, $358/user/yr for EchoSign's Digitial Signature Package, $40/user/yr for RunMyProcess Workflow. Total cost:  $460/user a year. Not $50. 

In addition, these software add on's have minimal or no integration with Google Apps beyond supporting single sign-on.  So you need to factor in development cost of integrating these solutions and managing multiple vendor contracts.

  • "Frankly, the Google value proposition is cost based, and once you take that away, what's left?" - Rexel
  • "When we looked at the actual difference in price over a 12-month period, and the amount of grief we'd have gone through with Google, sticking with Microsoft was the clear-cut choice." -SBFI
  • "Yes, we might have saved one or two dollars per month going with Google Apps, but it wasn't worth it. Selecting software that makes it more difficult to work is the wrong way to save money." - SaaS IT

 Why Microsoft: 25 years in Productivity

Juxtapose this with Office, SharePoint and Exchange, which appear as "Leaders" in 8 of 10 Gartner Magic quadrants related to Information Work.*  Forrester's recent IT Pro survey found Google was still a distant Office competitor despite Google's best attempts to appeal to IT departments with a message of 'support for':  Outlook, Office files, Active Directory and ActiveSync. 

Customers want certainty, reliability, security, privacy, roadmaps and experience when it comes to a mission critical set of scenarios like Productivity, Messaging and Collaboration.  That's why after 25 years, Microsoft Office remains the best suite of applications for the PC, Phone and Browser and it's why these customers have picked Microsoft as their trusted partner. 

* related Gartner Magic Quadrants - Business Intelligence, Enterprise Content Management, Unified Communications, Horizontal Portals, Information Access Technology (Search), Enterprise Wireless E-mail, Social Software in the Workplace. Challenger: Web Content Management, UC as a Service.


  • Until Google learns to respect customer and have proper customer support, Large companies will keep away from Google.

  • Apparently, lots organisations are switching to <a href="http://openoffice.org">OpenOffice</a> and sticking with existing Win XP/Mac desktops, or shifting to Linux (some using thin clients) than sticking with Google Docs. Functionally, OpenOffice.org <a href="www.linuxjournal.com/.../openofficeorg-vs-microsoft-office quite favourable</a> to Microsoft Office.  

    I can't imagine how businesses make a sound business case for upgrading to newer versions of MS Windows or MS Office. It's a total money hole - and you're paying for the privilege of further proprietary file format lock-in. (And please don't mistake DOCX,XLSX, and PPTX for open standards. Do your homework - they are *not* OOXML, which in itself has only a tenuous claim at being an open standard).

  • @ Dave - I understand your comment re MS products not offering open standards, such as open source products like Open Office.Org, which I run on my pc.  However, to run OO.o one still needs an Operating System and for reasons of compatibility the obvious choice of OS for businesses will always be Windows, particularly Windows 7, which has basically wiped MS's slate clean now with a great product, which I also use.  Incidentially, the stats this week reveal it has achieved the most downloads of any OS ever on historical record.

    Therefore, it is my guess that businesses using Windows don't mind investing the additional $$ for MS Office in order to engage the use of Microsoft's Cloud Computing/MS Live Essentials, which are very impressive - not only for employee video conferencing, file sharing/doc exchange/project collaboration/email and phone conferencing apps, but cloud computing gives businesses that extra security.  

    Open Office.org is great software, partic considering it is free, but with the advent of cloud computing it does mean, for now, that OO.o has a lot of catching up to do before it can offer these live collaboration apps.  Even Android enables this, now ahead of Apple Mac. (I know Apple Mac die-hards won't agree, but the truth is, that there will be nothing new or magical that iPhone can add in the June update release, that Android has not already got).

    Personally I think one company operators, like Apple Mac and all others, are going to have to change their approach to keep up with Google & MS, for MS and Google are buying up and/or partnering with so many other different software product owners - in order to cover the broad spectrum of IT apps on offer - so much so that it is becoming impossible for single operations to keep up with the ongoing flow of releases of new apps.  Unless Apple & others too spend up big on making some acquisitions or entering into partnering ventures, I think they will find, in the not too distant future, that they will be left behind, because of the explosive ongoing prolifieration of apps being developed and released from third parties, which sadly, Apple will not engage with.

  • Businesses (and, more importantly, governments) are becoming increasingly aware of the hidden liability of proprietary data (i.e. file formats). Microsoft have always been arrogant to the extreme in order to hold on to their monopoly. I would hope that businesses will choose interoperability over MS. I know that in NZ, we're seeing a major internal shift in our government away from Microsoft - gov't officials are sick of the attempts to man-handle and manipulate politicians in order to maintain the MS-only hegemony here. If gov't mandates open standards (not including OOXML, which doesn't exist in the wild in a strict sense), then businesses will have less reason to try to maintain compatibility with MS's purposely non-interoperable file formats. I, for one, hope that ripples throughout the world.

    I don't know much about MS's cloud strategy, but personally I think that the "big cloud" approach of MS and Google is short term. Private clouds will be commodity within the year. We deploy Ubuntu Linux-based clouds now, and I don't see how low cost can compete with no-cost when it comes to scaling for massive organisations... who are concerned with data security and limiting liability (as all businesses and gov'ts should be).

  • Excellent paper!! I love the fact that you have absolutly no objectivity!

    I also love the fact that you mention RunMyProcess! However may I suggest that you take a look at what we are doing? You can't  make an hypothesis that customers subscribe to a bunch of products including RunMyProcess and then do not get any integration capabilities. Because powerful integration capabilities in the Cloud (fully integrated with workflows) is exactly what we offer. With 1,200+ connectors available, I think it is a reasonnably accurate statement, isn't it?

    I'll avoid noticing other misleading facts, that would pretty much be equivalent to commenting on Toy Story saying toys don't speak for real.

    Best regards

  • @Matthieu  Thanks for commenting. I fully respect Runmyprocess as a company and while I haven't tested the software I am sure it's great.  I wasnt remarking about the merits of Runmyprocess.  If you reread the post, I think you get the point that I was stating facts that if someone would like features not included in Google Apps, they would need to pay extra and then wire it together.  All of this is cost.

    So per your Toy Story metaphor, this is akin to getting the Buzz Lightyear Toy and being told "it flies, it talks, it can swim..."  Then being showed that Batteries not included, Swim adapter needed for extra money and flying scenarios only if you get a pilots license.  

  • There may be noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I assume you made sure good factors in features also.

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