Migration Poses Challenge

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

As both Google and Microsoft build out aggressive cloud strategies, the two behemoths are going toe-to-toe for market share in the office productivity applications space.

Particularly with a migration from Exchange to Gmail, the transition can be a challenge. According to Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at Enderle Group, that's an understatement. Businesses switching from Exchange to Gmail to save money always find they discover a whole bunch of new issues they didn't anticipate in the migration, he said. No matter what the cost savings might be, the headaches are generally not worth changing an email system, he said.

There's a core difference in how the two companies are going about their software strategies as well. Google Apps started in the cloud, and so the company has focused exclusively on building out its cloud applications. Microsoft started with on-premise software, a business that is still strong for the company.

In developing its cloud strategy, Microsoft sees a future where a hybrid of on-premise and cloud software will dominate, Spitzer said. That's the world Microsoft envisions. The idea is to make it easy for end-users to get access to everything they need in their applications whether they're in the office or in the cloud. End-users should be able to easily bounce back and forth between the two different types of software delivery, he said.

"In terms of office apps, Google probably has the better solution if you're going to go 100 percent web because they don't have to cannibalize their desktop software," Enderle said. That doesn't mean Google should be the choice for every business, though.

Google doesn't have hosted applications like Microsoft does, and Google falls short in comparison to Microsoft's web services, he said. Google has focused more on the consumer than the business in the past, and the company's business services are still in their infancy.

Microsoft's biggest challenge is that so many of its customers are on its current or past applications and are moving towards the cloud, Enderle said. Microsoft wants to offer cloud in a way that it doesn't cannibalize its own existing on-premise software revenue stream. That makes Microsoft more disjointed than Google because they also have broader offerings, he said. Google is a more cohesive company because of its narrower focus.

If customers are looking to Microsoft or Google Apps for their cloud needs, Enderle offered some insight into how to choose:

  • Microsoft's offerings are robust and enterprise-ready, whereas Google isn't quite there yet in the enterprise.
  • There is no magic bullet where Google is always the right choice or Microsoft is always the right choice.
  • The smaller the business, the more likely it is going to favour Google.
  • Microsoft is more aligned with mid-market and enterprise businesses.
  • Businesses that are 100 percent Linux-based should consider Google.
  • Microsoft cloud apps are designed to integrate with on-premise Microsoft software, so businesses using Microsoft applications will find it easier to migrate to Microsoft cloud offerings than to Google Apps.
  • Google probably won't do well in a Microsoft shop. Likewise, Microsoft probably won't do well in a Linux shop.

"I would keep technology aligned. A Linux environment already tends to be pretty disrupted so you can drop a Google solution in there. A Microsoft environment tends to be very staid," Enderle said.