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Four Great Reasons to Cast Your Vote for Microsoft Office 365

Four Great Reasons to Cast Your Vote for Microsoft Office 365

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How do you decide who should get your vote in this election? From races for city council across the United States to the race for U.S. president, there’s no shortage of campaign literature out there. What is the candidate’s experience? What is their strategy for addressing local or national problems? How likely are they to execute on their promises? What support are they likely to lend the average American? For most voters, it will come down to examining each candidate’s track record.

In the same way, companies that choose between Office 365 vs. Google Apps should first examine the track record of both Microsoft and Google. By examining the experience, strategy, execution, and support offered by Microsoft vs. Google, organizations can get a better picture into the strength and weaknesses of each solution.

One issue to examine is the  experience of both companies. Google builds products for consumers, and hopes businesses will adapt. According to Michael Lock, Google Enterprise Vice President, Google’s enterprise business will simply follow the company’s success in the consumer space.  Asked earlier this fall what products were specifically designed with the enterprise in mind, Google executives could only name one: Google Vault, an archival and e-discovery system.


Microsoft, on the other hand, has been working hand-in-hand with businesses to build productivity solutions for more than 20 years.  From Office to Dynamics CRM to Exchange, Microsoft creates hundreds of enterprise products that meet the productivity, collaboration, and communication needs of every role, and continues to adapt features and capabilities for the ever-changing needs of today’s mobile workers. All of these products build on our years of experience and a detailed knowledge of business needs.

When customers make an investment, they want to know that the company they’re dealing with has a long-term strategy. Google doesn't provide businesses with a roadmap of its strategy and where it’s headed. Google has said it can’t share much beyond a six month vision, because it doesn’t know what it is planning beyond that timeframe. To make matter worse, the company often phases out products with little to no warning, forcing enterprises to shift gears without advanced notice.

By contrast, Office 365 is updated on a regular schedule and offers a 12-month advance notice of significant changes. Office 365 offers customers the flexibility to change services and number of seats licensed as needed. Customers avoid unpleasant surprises and gain visibility into the Office 365 technology roadmap via the publicly available Service Update Wiki.

A CIO of a billion dollar plus company who writes for Information Week under the pseudonym John McGreavy, called Google’s lack of a roadmap unsettling for an enterprise CIO. “I could be part of the in crowd and say that I get it,” he wrote. “But I'm not sure I do. It can take me six months to socialize (my favorite new buzzword) an innovation, and another six to implement it. Google, is that product going to be around after six months, or replaced?”

He’s not the only one who doesn’t respond well to Google’s lack of a roadmap. As one reader told Information Week:  “Having a 3-5 year roadmap is essential. Having our business units and users work with us is essential. While I can't predict what the world is going to look like in that time, I can dang well provide a direction. Road maps are not written in stone, they are a guide for the entire organization to reach the goals of the business.”

Said another reader: “This is not a model that any sane enterprise should hang their hat on. There needs to be predictability, continuity, and longevity to the critical IT functions.”

Still another issue to consider is whether the company delivers what it promises. Google signed several deals with customers only to disappoint them after the ink has dried. For example, when the University of Michigan signed a 10-year contract to transition the university to Google cloud-based services, it was under the impression that Google would work to make its products accessible to people with disabilities. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Laura Patterson, the university's chief information officer, said “we thought that all accessibility issues would be resolved by the time we completed our migration.”

Likewise, other organizations from the City of Los Angeles to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the General Services Administration, have adopted Google services only to be disappointed further down the road.

On the other hand, Microsoft has a strong record of executing on its agreements and getting customers up and running in the cloud. Microsoft is committed to providing an enterprise-grade service that’s designed to meet the most rigorous requirements for security, privacy, reliability, and manageability. We treat enterprise productivity as our center business, not a side project. And we work proactively and consistently to earn our customers’ trust.  

Says one Information Week reader: “Microsoft takes enterprise seriously. Period. They provide products and support that you can rely on day in and day out. And, you always get an EOL date and a migration path so you have time to plan for upcoming changes.”

Finally, customers should examine the support each company is willing to provide if problems occur. Google’s support sorts issues into different priority levels. To receive the highest priority (P1), the customer must have “service unusable in production.” Google’s definition of “service unusable” is that the majority (more than half) of end users are not receiving inbound or outbound email. Google phone support is a callback model. Customers must wait for Google to assign the priority level status before receiving support.

By contrast, Microsoft offers the highest level of support and service. For enterprise customers, Microsoft provides 24/7 phone support for even one-user outages—with no caveats or minimum number of users affected before considering the issue. Office 365 support tries to resolve the issue immediately but will escalate it to a higher tier if necessary. Additionally, moderated community forums help customers get answers to commonly asked questions.

The difference in the two companies' support policies isn’t lost on many CIOs. Says Fritz Nelson of Information Week:  “For some organizations, [Google’s] consumer-first focus has come through too loudly, too clearly. Many CIOs complain about Google's support, for example… Most CIOs I talk to have found Google's enterprise support wanting.”

Choosing an Enterprise-Ready Solution
Indeed, some customers who adopt Google Apps end up switching to Office 365 because of their desire for an enterprise-class service.

For example, UrbaCon General Contracting first used Google Apps but then switched to Office 365 because Google lacked the enterprise-ready tools it needed. Says Muttia Alkhayyat, Chief Information Officer at UrbaCon General Contracting: “We used Google Apps for approximately two years. And, at first, it seemed to meet our needs. But over time, we realized that its limitations were actually getting in the way of productivity, not facilitating it … Microsoft Office 365 is a more complete, enterprise-ready solution for our company.”

Likewise, Lojas Renner, which operates 173 department stores across Brazil, switched to Office 365 after finding itself limited with the tools offered by Google Apps. “Although Google Apps was successful in helping us reduce our IT burden and infrastructure costs, we found ourselves limited by the scope of the Google solution,” says Leandro Barbinot, Chief Information Officer for Lojas Renner. “We were not able to easily integrate it with crucial on-premises solutions like our IP telephony system and our enterprise resource planning [ERP] system. It was also difficult to integrate with our external partners' systems.”

Cast Your Vote Carefully
Make sure to vote in tomorrow’s election. And if you’re considering a move to the cloud, carefully weigh each vendor’s track record before casting your vote. I'm confident you'll reach the same conclusion as the vast majority of businesses that have already voted with their dollars for Microsoft -- and are achieving greater productivity through our on-premises, cloud, and hybrid architectures.

More than two decades of experience serving enterprise customers, a roadmap you can count on, a solid commitment to our customers, a record of executing on its promises, and the highest level of support and service. Four great reasons to choose Microsoft Office 365. 

  • Experience? You want to talk about experience; Google was born on the web, born in the Cloud. Microsoft? It's new to the Cloud and is trying to retrofit its on-premise solutions to the Cloud. Don't believe me? Ask Angela Livermore, from Microsoft, who stated at Tech Ed "Our goal at Microsoft is, if I have the capability in the product, I want to make that capability, or feature, available in the Cloud; It's just a matter of when" She then went on to state that the Office 365 products were not feature complete versus the on-premise solutions. She states "Exchange is about 90-95% complete, SharePoint is about 75-80% and Lync is about 60-70% complete, feature-to-feature".

    Further, Microsoft went on to state that the Office 365 product are the same code base as the on-premise solutions; "it is just the 2010 version of those products, hosted in Microsoft data centers". Then they stated that that architecture was not built for highly scalable Cloud configurations.

    How is that experience? As for killing products; have you read your own news release about how you are killing chat and "forcing" users to adopt Skype?

    Strategy and vision? Have you paid attention to your own company? Windows 8? Are you serious? This is a totally consumer driven product that Microsoft "hope enterprises adopt"; Steve Ballmer said it himself "consumerization of IT is driving Enterprise behavior". Also, this is a complete change in the desktop user experience; it's like Microsoft is saying "yeah, we don't care what users think, or what they want, this is what we are going to do and they will get over it." Not listening to the customers, that is the Microsoft way!

    How about the fact that Google provide an entire platform for customization and application integration and integration with existing back-office systems. Office 365? Nope...notta, nothing. Again, at Tech Ed, Microsoft got on stage and said Office 365 is "not customizable, it is a service, not a product. It is what it is" further stating that customers "should seriously read the Service Description document and understand the limitations". WOW! Talk about limiting your customer base!

    When choosing a Cloud platform, make sure you, the customer, do your fact checking and understand which platform was born in the Cloud, and which one is pretending to be the cloud.

  • OK, as a former Microsoft person, this is really annoying.  You follow me on Twitter and spout nonsense - you push things as if they were fact but they're not.  Delete this account - you're doing more harm than good.

  • In the recent past, the speed at which IT departments could roll out new software has been slow. IT has had to "socialize" a product before rolling it out and spend meeting after meeting "implementing" the project, finally pushing the package out through some hyper-galactic silent install, spending weeks on post-rollout training, and burning through hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in the process while not always(/usually) being able to say these efforts were successful at increasing worker efficiency/productivity.

    Currently, rolling out products can be rapid due to the emergence of managed SaaS products. Tight integration and security with things like Google's 2FA takes most of the administrative and maintenance overhead off of the table. Users are already socialized on the SaaS products because these are the types of products or (in the case of Gmail) the exact products that they use in their personal lives.

    To try to understand this Microsoft argument: therefore, because Google and its partners take away the overhead associated with change management between various legacy software solutions, some anonymous CIO can't say that they "get it" and it just isn't ready for the "enterprise".

    I know why these people don't "get it," their entire careers are based on skillsets that cloud-first SaaS is making obsolete. We have come full circle from the days when the mainframe ruled and powerful sysadmins created the exact platform for developers to develop on back to those days. The exception is this time the sysadmins aren't people on the company payroll, this is now a service-based operating expense. I have seen first hand non-technical employees rolling out cloud products to other divisions themselves without having to write a detailed proposal or obtain $85,000 in licenses.

    The thing that gets me is on some fronts Microsoft is really embracing this modern technology (Azure, InTune, etc), and on other fronts (Office 365, Windows 8) Microsoft is not. Office 365 is one of the products where Microsoft is trying so hard to create a "hybrid" approach that they are losing sight of where the product will be five years from now.

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