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Google, the GSA and the Competition

Google, the GSA and the Competition

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Today, the General Services Administration made the decision to replace several different versions of IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino software with Google for its own email.  While we are disappointed we will not have the opportunity to meet the GSA's internal messaging needs, we will continue to serve its productivity needs through the familiar experience of Microsoft Office and we look forward to understanding more about GSA's selection criteria - especially around security and architecture.  We are also gratified so many state and local governments continue to choose Microsoft.   There are clear reasons behind these choices. 

Adding Random Functionality is not Really Adding Functionality

Recently, Google has added additional functionality to its productivity applications in an effort to bolster them.  While it's not clear to us how useful business customers will find applications such as Picasa Web Albums, Google Voice and Adwords, some of our customers don't seem to be impressed with the value they receive from Google.  Business such as WinWire, Bradshaw and WeilPhaeton Automotive, Vinci and others have all been consistent in their message:  Google cannot meet their requirements


You have to meet the Height Requirement to Ride in the Enterprise

There's no doubt that businesses are talking to Google, and hearing their pitch, but despite all the talk, Google can't avoid the fact that often times they cannot meet basic requirements. For instance, in California, the state determined that Google couldn't meet many of their basic requirements around functionality and security.  Rather than address deficiencies in their product by developing a more robust set of productivity tools, Google cried foul instead of addressing these basic needs.

Constraints such as inadequate product support, failure to provide a roadmap, poor interoperability with other line of business applications and limited functionality are all reasons why public sector organizations such the State of Minnesota and New York City have said "no thanks" to what Google is offering.  In a Wall Street Journal story on the NYC implementation, a NYC official reinforced this point:

"We have a relationship with Google. We certainly explored what they could bring to the table with respect to offering opportunities for our workforce," said Carole Post, commissioner of Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. But Microsoft's proposed package "both from a cost perspective as well as the suite of tools and opportunities was a more compelling opportunity," she said.

It's no secret that large public sector organizations have consistently valued Microsoft's cloud offerings not only because of our deep understanding of enterprise organizations, but also for their ease of use, security and privacy capabilities.  Regardless of how organizations are thinking about the cloud, Microsoft provides a choice for their productivity needs; on premises, in the cloud or as a hosted solution.  Google does not offer any such choice


Clearly, the GSA news underscores how robust competition is today, not only between Microsoft and Google, but also Cisco, IBM, VMWare and many others.  Competition is good for our customers, our business, and the industry.  It drives us to deliver our very best and use every day to continue earning the trust of the 750M people who use Office today.

  • Good response under the circumstances. At least you didn't blame the customer or cry unfair like Google does when it loses.

  • "While it's not clear to us how useful business customers will find applications such as Picasa Web Albums..."

    Might be useful when putting a collection of company holiday photos on the Intranet. There are other options, yes, but having this as an option is nice.

    "...Google Voice..."

    You're right. This one isn't quite there yet. It might be nice for a small business, but not an enterprise. At least, not yet, in its current form.

    "...and Adwords."

    I hope this was just a joke. You don't know how useful business customers would find advertising on the most used search engine?

  • I wouldn't be surprised by next year you hear the GSA is disappointed with the experience and will be moving to Office 365 immediately.

  • We had too much difficulty using Exchange for our small business. In addition, the costs associated with maintaining a server with overly burdensome.  We made the switch to Google Apps a year ago and couldn't be happier.  Greater access of use (especially since we are pretty mobile) and have saved nearly $14,000 annually.   We still do, however, user MS Office suite products (with the exception of OneNote - Evernote is a FAR superior product).  

    I enjoy seeing the competitive forces work though!  

  • It seems odd Microsoft is claiming superiority with their cloud services when since it is Microsoft who is scrambling to play catch up with Google. Microsoft would not be doing any of these web-based solutions if it wasn't for the innovations Google produced and the obvious growing demand for it in the marketplace.

  • @StareClips.com - I just put up some examples from the 60 or so consumer focused applications Google added. While I agree that Ad Words would be useful for ads for your company on the Internet, how useful is adding this as an application for your internal users to access?  Maybe there is a new trend of adding paid advertising to Intranet sites that I missed :)  Regardless, your point is well taken.

    My examples were just a few from the 60 or so CONSUMER applications that Google added to their business offering.  From what I hear from customers, these new additions just make their corporate identity work in the consumer application so it's easier identity federation.  Plus, none of these apps are supported or are part of your Google Apps SLA.  So you get 60 new apps with no support and SLA. . .

    Keep the comments coming.  Happy to address as many as I can.

  • @Thomas

    If you ever get a chance, try the free Exchange Online Trial.  I would love to hear how your experience with our cloud services compares to Google.  We're always looking for feedback both positive and negative to make our software and customer experience better.

  • Microsoft software wins in government contracts because it's the only thing the poorly-trained IT staffs know how to support.

  • the wheel of fortune keeps on spinning. get in and get out while the getting's good.

    microsoft lost the war ten years ago, it just doesn't know it yet.


  • After two decades of dominance, this blog post is just proof of Microsoft's fear that Google taking away enterprise and government marketshare.  If Microsoft is so superior, then why respond to Google wins in the press?  Is it because they are starting to lose ground to Google?  The market decides whose products win.  The fact that MS's product management has launched a smear campaign against Google only makes it clear that they have identified a real contender.  Next MS renewal it's time for some real competition -- finally!

  • @thomriz

    Thank you for responding. It is true that Google's announcement of "adding new apps" to Google Apps was a bit exaggerated, since these were applications which have always existed that anyone could have used their own account to access.

    However, significance (and the reasoning) of this move isn't about giving businesses access to new applications to use in the workplace. The reality of it is, many people were using their personal email addresses (usually a Gmail address) to access these services from within the office. If that office happened to use Google Apps, employees would find themselves logging out of their personal account, then back into their Google Apps account, then back into their personal account, depending on which service they wished to use.

    This was an inconvenience to say the least.

    So, there are two solutions to this. The first is to allow a person to be signed into any service using multiple accounts simultaneously, switching easily between accounts. The second is to give the Google Apps accounts the ability to login to these services as well.

    So, both of these are being worked on and obviously the ability to login to any Google service using a Google Apps account rolled out of the gates first.

    The other significant aspect is that System Admins can control which apps employees can or cannot see or login to using their Google Apps account. So, in a sense, what has been done is the entire ecosystem of Google-based applications has been replicated, giving each Google Apps admin the ability to tweak this ecosystem, giving or taking away various services to streamline things.

    So, obviously you grabbed some random examples and chose poor examples. That's understandable. Where you missed the boat is thinking that it had anything to do with, say, using AdWords to put ads on an Intranet. This isn't what it's about at all. The point is to give the users who are already logged into the Google cloud using a Google Apps account the ability to login to the AdWords interface with that same account, rather than a separate account, then the ability for admins to control which employees have access. Again, the significance of this move isn't "why would people use this in a company?" The reality is, people already were. They were just doing so unofficially on personal accounts. Bringing this into the Google Apps umbrella gives more control for the enterprise and a better experience for the employees.

  • I could only hope for some google integration at my company. We currently use a mashup of MS, Lotus NOTES,  SAP and an intranet that offers useless search capabilities.

  • The company that I work for uses Office for it's thousands of workstations. All of the machines are Windows XP, and most are using IE6. This is probably typical for a lot of enterprise customers. They are not switching to Google for the same reason they are not upgrading the OS and much of the software: the workload involved and an ingrained fear of any kind of change. They are also overemphasizing the short-term costs and underestimating the long-term savings. So when I hear the testimonials of MSFTs loyal customers saying Google doesn't meet their needs, I think some of it is coming from this same mindset.

  • You'd enable AdWords for the marketing department. It's odd to point to the availability of 60 additional applications at no cost as a negative event...

    As a federal agency perhaps the GSA took Google Apps' FISMA certification into account and BPOS' lack there of or perhaps they didn't consider 4 year old hosted server products as very innovative.  

    It was reported that New York and Minnesota did not go out to competitive bid. Is this incorrect? Also wouldn't New York be on the "dedicated" platform of BPOS/Office365? A single-tenant stack is not cloud computing, it's ASP hosting.  

    The current version of BPOS runs the 2007 server products - it's almost 2011. By the time Office 365 comes out on the 2010 server products, 2011 will be half way over. Will customers have to wait another 4 years for the next upgrade? Why can't Microsoft run large organizations in a multi-tenant environment? That doesn't sound like a very scalable environment. Why are you still building on-premise server products first and then providing watered down hosted versions as innovation?

    You should look into the trend known as consumerization. This should clarify why CONSUMERS are people and they expect the solutions they use at work to be at least as powerful, accessible and easy to use as the applications they use at home. People are becoming more confident in their knowledge and expectations of how technology should work. They're going to use Google Sites with or without their IT department's help because they know they shouldn't have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or wait 6 months to share videos or leverage dynamic team sites.

    It would be great to see competition beyond FUD and cloud-washing. The easiest thing to do on Office Live is buy a copy of Office 2010.

    There is hope, according to Don Dodge Google is hiring...

  • Sorry, but this is just the *wrong* type of messaging for someone supposedly in a superior position.  Good prize-fighters 'cuss the opposition before the fight by way of taunts and insults, then afterwards nod in admiration and move on.  This does neither, Microsoft see the world as its enemy and then ticks it off afterwards.  So it will be with Office and Linux in the coming 2 years.

    All signs of an organisation akin to a limping animal, woulded and dangerous.

    Good luck.

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