Espinosa sees that hybrid option as a definite advantage for Microsoft. “You can add Office 365 into your local solution. You can have AD, security, everything on premise and move elements like email to Office 365.” Google offers some AD integration, he notes; “you can filter and block across a domain, you can even push Windows group policy to Chrome. But Microsoft absolutely has the advantage for running AD and replicating that into the cloud.”
Van Dijk isn’t the only customer switching away from Google Apps because of the lack of development. Google showed early promise but they didn’t invest while Microsoft improved and that’s disappointed the early adopters, suggests McKinnon. “When we started seven years ago, Google Apps was pretty nascent but it was pretty good. I would have predicted that Google would have run away with email and collaboration, but over the last two or three years, Microsoft has essentially caught up and passed Google Apps.”
Skyick’s Jewett hears the same thing from customers. “Google started off as the leader; they were the first to have completely web-based productivity tools. It was a very effective way for Google to get the perception that they were being more innovative. And many people made a strong bet on Google having a strong future plan.”
That spurred Microsoft to catch up, and Google hasn’t kept up, says Jewett. “Microsoft started from behind but they made the large investments [required]. It’s more than just vaporware; they have built out greater capabilities where Google has been standing still. Microsoft has gone from behind to being the leader. They have a roadmap of new features and products continuing to come out in productivity.”
“It was early adopters who moved to Google; when they made that decision Google was the clear leader and now they see Google hasn’t invested to build on the expectation that was set. Given the sophistication of Google as a company, we’ve found it surprising that they haven't built out more enterprise capabilities around Google Apps – and customers are noticing.”
Jewett notes that even a year ago Skykick had frequent requests to provide a migration service to Google Apps; "we don't really hear that any more.”
Email, file sharing and unified communications may be enough of a commodity to move to the cloud (rather than keeping in-house infrastructure and expertise), but businesses don’t see them as legacy systems that don’t need to improve. They’re looking for innovation in these areas, and they’re betting on Microsoft rather than Google to deliver that.
“What Microsoft has over its competitors is a comprehensive understanding of what matters to business,” says Espinosa. “Microsoft is much better positioned than Google to be the dominant force in providing cloud for business, and it has overtaken Google because businesses have realized they should never switched from Microsoft in the first place.”
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