You may have already read the 10 reasons why Microsoft thinks the enterprise should not use Google Apps. Well, here's my response:

1. Google touts having enterprise level customers but how many “USERS” of their applications truly exist within the enterprise?

Does this matter? There are a lot of private users on Google Apps for sure, but there are quite a few large companies (with 10.000+ users) using Google Apps - and they are happy with it! How many enterprise users can say the same about Microsoft Windows and Office in the enterprise?

2. Google has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a “known only to Google” schedule – this flies in the face of what enterprises want and need in their technology partners – what is Google doing that indicates they are in lock step with customer needs?

This one makes me laugh. Google is being honest about their software not being finished. And they don't get hopes up by setting a release date that they can't meet. I don't think I have to go into a discussion about how Windows Vista doesn't include all the promised features and the several delays before it's final release.

3. Google touts the low cost of their apps –not only price but the absence of need for hardware, storage or maintenance for Google Apps. BUT if GAPE is indeed a complement to MSFT Office, the costs actually become greater for a company as they now have two IT systems to run and manage and maintain. Doesn’t this result in increased complexity and increased costs?

Very funny, again. There is no longer the need for Microsoft Office or the services that provide e-mail services like Exchange. There may even not be a need for Microsoft Windows anymore, because Google Apps works perfectly on Macs and Linux. And I think that managing Google Apps is a lot easier than managing a cluster of Microsoft servers.

4. Google’s primary focus is on ad funded search. Their enterprise focus and now apps exist on the very fringe and in combination with other fringe services only account for 1% of the company’s revenue. What happens if Google executes poorly? Do they shut down given it will them in a minimal and short term way? Should customers trust that this won’t happen?

This reason is actually the only one that might be valid. But, isn't this true for any company? Google does generate a lot of revenue from it's ad system. What Google tends to do with it's Google Apps suite is not only providing an alternative for Microsoft's office, but also binding users to Google. A Google Apps users will be more likely to use Google Search than a non-apps users.

5. Google’s apps only work if an enterprise has no power users, employees are always online, enterprises haven’t built custom Office apps – doesn’t this equal a very small % of global information workers today? –On a feature comparison basis, it’s not surprising that Microsoft has a huge lead.

Microsoft is still ignoring that "less is more". It's not about who has the most features anymore. It's about ease of use and service. Most users -are- always online with broadband internet connections and WiFi. Office does have a lot of nifty features, but only a small % of power users use these features (if they even know the features exist and know how to use them properly).

6. Google apps don’t have essential document creation features like support for headers, footers, tables of content, footnotes, etc. Additionally, while customers can collaborate on basic docs without the above noted features, to collaborate on detailed docs, a company must implement a two part process – work together on the basic doc, save it to Word or Excel and then send via email for final edits. Yes they have a $50 price tag, but with the inefficiencies created by just this one cycle, how much do GAPE really cost – and can you afford the fidelity loss?

Again, Microsoft thinks we can't do without it. Google Apps is not about creating huge reports and stuff. It's about collaboration. Users collaborate, and when the document is cleared for release (or whenever you need the fancy stuff), you can use any tool (Pages? Adobe InDesign?) to make it all look sexy. Just a simple question: how many of the documents and spreadsheets you make are for pubishing and which are just quick doc for gathering and sharing thoughts with your co-workers? Personally, I use Google Docs for writing all my documents. When it needs to go to press, I export it and format it properly with Pages. No problem.

7. Enterprise companies have to constantly think about government regulations and standards – while Google can store a lot of data for enterprises on Google servers, there is no easy to use, automated way for enterprises to regularly delete data, issue a legal hold for specific docs or bring copies into the corp. What happens if a company needs to respond to government regulations bodies? Google touts 99.9% uptime for their apps but what few people realize that promise is for Gmail only. Equally alarming is the definition Google has for “downtime” – ten consecutive minutes of downtime. What happens if throughout the day Google is down 7 minutes each hour? What does 7 minutes each hour for a full work day that cost an enterprise?

Again, this makes me laugh! How many minutes a day do you spend restarting, scanning for viruses and spyware on Windows? How often do you need to make backups because you need to restore/reinstall Windows? What is the up-time guarantee of an Exchange server (yes, including possible hardware failure)? There are government rules everywhere, but in my opinion this is a policy thing.

8. In the world of business, it is always on and always connected. As such, having access to technical support 24/7 is essential. If a company deploys Google Apps and there is a technical issue at 8pm PST, Sorry. Google’s tech support is open M-F 1AM-6PM PST – are these the new hours of global business? And if a customer’s “designated administrator” is not available (a requirement) does business just stop?

"Always on and always connected". Nice. In reason #5 Microsoft points out that users are not always online. What about that? How about the companies internet provider? Are they on call 24 hours a day? Just a note, when I want telephone support from Microsoft I can call them from 6am - 6pm (Pacific) and it'll cost me $245. If you call after-hours, you're set back $490. How much did you say Google's support cost?

By the way, Google does monitor its services/servers very well. If there's a problem, it will be fixed rather quickly. With Microsoft, you'll have to go and fix it yourself (even when you pay $490).

(link to Micorsoft's support page)

9. Google says that enterprise customers use only 10% of the features in today’s productivity applications which implies that EVERYONE needs the SAME 10% of the feature when in fact it is very clear that in each company there are specific roles people play that demands access to specific information – how does Google’s generic strategy address role specific needs?

Google offers a flexible service. In stead of customizing the crap out of the application for every possible role a user could have, they offer a generic application. It's the 'one size - fits all' principle.

10. With Google apps in perpetual beta and Google controlling when and if they rollout specific features and functionality, customers have minimal if any control over the timing of product rollouts and features – how do 1) I know how to strategically plan and train and 2) get the features and functionality I have specifically requested? How much money does not knowing cost?

This just point 2 rephrased. To be more specific: do you have to plan? No - Google does the planning and testing for you. Training? Google keeps it's apps simple and easy to understand. In terms of planning, you probably don't know when something is released, but the same can be said for Microsoft. People expected WinFS in Vista, where is it? How many delays did Windows Vista see? How much did knowing when it was released (and when it got delayed, again) cost?

I have written this post not to bash Microsoft, but to illustrate how single minded some companies can be. It's not just 10 questions enterprises need to ask themselves, it's indeed 10 reasons not to use Google Apps. Although for some of these reasons may be valid for some companies, the majority of enterprises and users can do their daily work with Google Apps, and in my opinion, they should.

Currently I use Google Apps (free edition) to manage Ariejan.net. At Kabisa ICT we use Google Apps premier with great pleasure. We have not encountered any issues at all, and we really like the collaboration features included.

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