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Microsoft prices, lack of help push one firm to Google

Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld | April 19, 2011
Global manufacturer Cinram International dumps Microsoft Exchange for Google Apps

High prices and poor service forced manufacturing firm Cinram International to migrate from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps, a move the company's vice president of IT infrastructure called "a no brainer."

"[Google] was much better," said Andrew Murrey, vice president of IT Infrastructure at Cinram. "It was a night-and-day difference."

And that could say a lot about how hard Google is pushing to get into the enterprise, despite jabs from rival Microsoft that any such effort won't succeed.

"Google already has stepped in and grabbed a foothold in the enterprise. It's been very impressive," said Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis. "Microsoft needs to behave more like a Google. It can be a struggle to make that change. And that can be why so many companies are going to Google for these online services."

Cinram, is a global company that started out in Canada, making eight-track tapes and vinyl records about 40 years ago. The company went on to make cassettes and now is a major supplier of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Headquartered in Toronto, it has more than 10,000 employees and 20 facilities in North America and Europe.

The problem at Cinram, though, was that its 5,000 or so knowledge workers were using Microsoft Exchange 5.5 -- an email system that was released in 1997.

It's not as though Murrey didn't want to upgrade. He just couldn't present a compelling business reason to do so.

"We could never present a business case that showed a significant cost savings," said Murrey. "We had several capitol projects to upgrade everyone to [Exchange] 2007. It was going to cost close to $2 million to move everyone across the board. It was always cost-prohibitive. If we spent the $2 million, there just wasn't the return, except for a few features here or there."

Murrey also noted that as the company grew through a series of acquisitions, it faced the question of what to do about the disparate email systems.

"Every time we acquired a company, it was running a newer version of Exchange or Lotus Notes," he said. "We'd move them to Exchange 5.5.... By March of last year, about 80% of the company was on Exchange 5.5 and the rest was on 2003 or 2007. I guess about 1% was on something totally different."

Last spring, Murrey and his team decided to move on. Since they'd been using Exchange, they went to Microsoft to see what kind of deal they could get if they migrated to Microsoft's cloud version of Exchange.

 

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