Microsoft and Google: Head to Head in the Cloud
Microsoft and Google are two of the most well known technology and software providers, but when it comes to their cloud offerings we are now learning that perhaps the competition isn’t as even as some may have thought.
Over the past few months, Microsoft has made an extra effort to compete with Google in the cloud computing market. Microsoft’s product, Office 365, entered the market in 2011 with different suites for businesses. It quickly made Google Apps, which is now a six-year cloud veteran that offers multiple platforms for different interests, its main competition. But the cloud is one area where Microsoft still has a significant amount of catch-up to play.
In May, Gartner Inc., a research firm, reported that Google attracted one-half to one-third of all businesses looking to use cloud-based software for the first time. For Microsoft, this was not a good sign, especially considering the same firm’s 2009 prediction that Microsoft would be outselling Google by a ratio of 4-to-1 by 2012.
The Wall Street Journal further highlighted the issues that Microsoft is facing and its efforts to compete with Google. According to the recent article, Microsoft created a “Google Compete” team, increased commission to resellers, lowered prices, and added a new platform of Office 365.
The WSJ reported on Dominion Enterprises, a Virginia-based marketing firm that was wooed by Microsoft’s “Google Compete” team but that ultimately underwent a Google Apps migration anyway. The compete team is a new weapon in Microsoft’s arsenal that is designed to retain current Microsoft customers and prevent them from switching to Google Apps. As part of its efforts to keep Dominion Enterprises, the team invited the company’s CIO, Joe Fuller, to the Microsoft headquarters in Washington. During his visit, Fuller toured the research lab, viewed product roadmaps, and got a peek at some new technologies. But despite Microsoft’s efforts, Fuller decided his company should have Google Apps setup, citing the price difference (he will pay $200,000/year with Google Apps as opposed to $2 million with Microsoft) and the “coolness” of Google’s product over Microsoft’s.
While the “Google Compete” team is a huge effort on Microsoft’s part to retain its current users, Microsoft also has other tactics it recently employed in order to better compete with Google.
Recently, Microsoft increased the commission its resellers earn from 20% to 23%. Additionally, this past spring, Microsoft lowered the prices of Office 365 by up to 20%. Although the cost decrease did make Office 365 less expensive, it is still more costly than Google Apps, which runs standard for the entire suite at $50/user/year for any size business. The least expensive version of Office 365, which is available only to businesses with fewer than 50 people, is $48/user/year, and this price does not include any add-ons, some of which are necessary for the suite to run properly.
In yet another effort to compete better, Microsoft added an additional platform to the Office 365 suite – Office 365 for Education. While the addition did add some variety to Microsoft’s offering, as Office 365 was previously only available for businesses, it still does not compare to Google Apps, which is available for businesses, educational institutions, governments, non-profit organizations, and personal use.
Aside from price and variety, what makes Google Apps so much better? A huge part of it is Google Apps’ focus on communication, collaboration, and mobility. Google Apps offers its users enhanced communication and collaboration through tools like Gmail, Google Documents, Google Sites, and Google Groups. And, because Google Apps is a completely cloud-based suite, it lives entirely within the web browser, giving users universal access from anywhere on any device. This mobility means that people can easily communicate and collaborate from anywhere. On the other hand, Office 365 is a hybrid cloud solution, meaning that it requires some additional software, which cuts down on the mobility that users can enjoy.
After six years of success in the cloud, Google has proved its apps suite is a market leader that is here to stay. As Google continues to attract new customers, especially well-known ones like Costco Wholesale Corp., it proves that Microsoft has its work cut out if it really wants to compete with Google.
Cloud Sherpas is a leading cloud service provider and was named the “Google Enterprise 2011 Partner of the Year.” As one of the first Google Enterprise partners, Cloud Sherpas has migrated over one million users across a variety of industries from legacy, on-premise messaging systems to Google Apps, helping organizations adopt cloud computing to innovate and dramatically reduce their IT expenses. A Google Apps Reseller in Atlanta, GA, Cloud Sherpas has regional offices in locations including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Austin and Sydney, and has more Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialists than any other partner in the world.