Today’s guest bloggers are Sean McNeill, Cloud Services Specialist, and John Santiago, General Manager, at Catapult Systems, a national Microsoft-focused IT consulting company that provides application development, enterprise solutions and infrastructure services. Catapult Systems has 400 employees who work with mid-market companies and large enterprises across the U.S.
Cloud computing is a hot topic with our customers these days. Because of the economic benefits, we’re seeing tremendous interest in cloud services among our customers. They are looking for IT administrators to focus on more strategic projects instead of ongoing maintenance of on-premise software. And all this while not having to worry about disaster recovery and unpredictable costs.
Reasons why customers choose Office 365
The majority of our customers were using on-premise software, while one fourth switched from Google Apps or another competing cloud platform. When moving to the cloud, most customers evaluate Google Apps and other competitive offerings before making a decision. In the end, they choose Office 365 because they want to stay within the Microsoft family. We see three reasons why customers choose Office 365:
Working with existing software: Office 365 works better with their existing software. Since both IT staff and employees are already familiar with Office, it enables them to be fully productive right from the start. In fact, most employees see no difference between Office in the cloud and Office on the desktop. It just works-and that’s a very compelling offering.
Moving to the cloud at their own pace: Another reason why customers choose Office 365 is the ability to move to the cloud at their own pace. If you’re a 10,000-person organization, it defies logic to take a big bang approach and move your entire organization to the cloud without first pilot testing it. Companies don’t want to impact all of their users at the same time. What’s more, they want a safety net. They want the ability to go back to an on-premise environment if the cloud doesn’t meet their needs.
Because Google Apps delivers its solutions online only, clients are left with no choice but to move to the cloud in one giant step. By contrast, Office 365 provides more flexibility. Users can choose whether to move to a pure cloud environment in one step or move to the cloud in smaller steps. The Office 365 hybrid environment provides customers the flexibility to integrate cloud services into an on-premises infrastructure, helping them to move to the cloud at their own pace. For example, Office 365 synchronizes with their on-premises Active Directory (AD) infrastructure, meaning that the IT department doesn’t have to create new global address lists and user identities for employees in the cloud. They can instead rely on the identities from their on-premises AD.
Enterprise credibility: Google is an advertising company. Over 95 percent of its revenue comes from advertising. On the other hand, Microsoft has a long track record of working on productivity solutions tailored for enterprises. It’s made a huge investment in security, much more than the average company can make itself. Our customers realize that, and it simplifies their decision.
Reasons why customers switch from Google Apps
Over the last couple of years, we’ve helped many customers switch from Google Apps to Office 365, including three mid-size organizations ranging from 400 to 1,200 users within the last six months. There are a number of reasons why we’re seeing customers flee Google Apps for Office 365:
Outlook email experience: A key reason why customers abandon Google Apps is that they miss Microsoft Outlook. We recently talked to an executive assistant responsible for managing multiple calendars. Doing so with Google Apps was so cumbersome that she ultimately started using Outlook on her own. Unlike Google Calendar, which required her to put everyone’s events onto one calendar, making it difficult to see whose calendar she was updating, with Outlook, she could see multiple calendars side-by-side, making it easy to coordinate calendars and schedule meetings.
When we told her we were there to help her company move back to Office, her reaction was, “Thank God!” She wasn’t the only one. After using Google Apps for a month, employees across the organization were exerting so much pressure on the IT department that the company decided to switch to Office 365.
Fidelity of Office documents: This is a huge issue with Google Apps. Most people use Microsoft Office. So, working with customers and partners outside of the organization becomes difficult when using Google Apps. The file formatting gets lost as documents are sent back and forth between organizations.
Employees using Google Apps are often forced to convert their documents into Word or Excel in order not to lose formatting, adding a layer of complexity to their already busy workloads. Rather than taking the extra step to make documents presentable to the outside world, many companies find that it’s easier to work natively within the Office suite.
Hidden costs: Yet another disappointment for Google users is the unanticipated costs associated with Google Apps. Companies assume that the cost of Google Apps is $50 per user per year. But once they factor in the price of training and lost productivity, the costs are actually much higher. On top of that, many companies end up paying extra for third-party tools not included with Google Apps, such as the advanced ability to archive and manage data. After discovering that Google Apps doesn’t fully meet their needs, customers continue to use Microsoft Office. Thus, they end up shouldering the cost of two productivity suites-Google Apps plus the Microsoft Office licenses they’d already been paying for. In the end, they realize that Google Apps is not cheap. Office 365 is actually a better deal!
For customers that are considering a move to the cloud, the best way to understand the benefits of Office 365 is to see them firsthand. When we bring customers into a room and show them the amazing services included with Office 365 and how Office 365 works seamlessly with their on-premises environment, it really opens up their eyes. When we demonstrate the rich, familiar experience across multiple devices, their interest only grows. And when we tell them they can move to the cloud at their own pace, it’s a slam dunk!