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Why companies are switching from Google Apps to Office 365

Mary Branscombe | Oct. 15, 2015
The combination of familiar software and enterprise-class support is bringing early adopters disappointed by Google’s lack of progress back to Microsoft.

Office 365 migration path

Microsoft’s increasingly strong Office 365 performance is coming partly at the expense of Google Apps. Motorola’s recent decision to move from an elderly version of Office to Google’s cloud service bucks the more common trend of companies who have been using Google Apps switching to Office 365.

It’s not just Microsoft saying that Office 365 is growing (COO Kevin Turner claims that four out of five Fortune 500 companies use the service). Last year, cloud security company Bitglass said traffic analysis gave Google twice the market share of Office 365 among its customers, with 16.3 percent of the market; that went up to 22.8 percent this year as more companies switched to cloud services. However, over the same year, Office 365 grew far faster, from 7.7 percent to 25.2 percent. Google has a slight advantage with small businesses (22.8 percent to Microsoft’s 21.4 percent) but in large, regulated businesses (over 1,000 employees), Microsoft’s 30 percent share is twice that of Google and growing fast.

Office 365 is even more popular with the 21 million customers of Skyhigh Network’s cloud security services, where 87.3 percent are using Office 365 services, with each organization uploading an average 1.37 terabytes of data to the service each month.

okta office and google globally
There are some geographical differences in the popularity of Office 365 and Google Apps in Okta’s customer base, with APAC currently a Google stronghold. Credit: Okta

That fits what identity management company Okta is seeing. Office 365 is the most commonly deployed application among its customers (beating even Salesforce) and adoption is growing faster than any other cloud applications. It’s also the cloud service customers use the most, probably because that usage includes all the email users send and receive.

Okta CEO Todd McKinnon does note that the picture is a little different in different parts of the world and across different industries. Google Apps is stronger in APAC, although that may change as Microsoft builds out new data centers in the region (that’s already making a difference in Australia and Japan). The only industry segments where Google Apps has more share than Office 365 are in technology; media, Internet and software companies. The smaller the company, the more share Google Apps has among Okta’s customers; but even in the smallest companies Office 365 is still in the lead.

“There are different dynamics that matter based on the company size,” McKinnon points out. “Large companies need manageability, security, reliability. You wouldn't see this acceleration of Office 365 in large companies without Microsoft doing a lot of work [in those areas].”

 

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