As part of the Real World with Microsoft Online Services customer series, we talked to Jake Harris, Director of IT at Aisle7, about replacing Google Apps with the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, which includes Microsoft Exchange Online. Here's what he had to say.
Q: Tell us about the Aisle7 business model.
Harris: We are a health and wellness marketing solution for grocery stores, health food outlets, drug stores, and mass-market retailers. Customers including Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and The Vitamin Shoppe feature our content on their websites through in-store kiosks and mobile applications and use it to educate shoppers about the wellness products they carry.
Q: What was the biggest challenge Aisle7 faced with Google Apps?
Harris: When we decided to implement Google Apps Premier Edition, some people warned that Google might be good for personal use but not for business. I think those people were wise—I've come to believe the same thing after trying it. The Google Apps Sync tool never worked as advertised. For example, if you're using calendar features, that's where the Google sync tool really fails. I had to update distribution lists manually, save them onto a network share, and then send everyone a ten-step procedure for remediating their distribution lists. Also, Google provided almost no support at all.
Q: Describe the solution you built with Microsoft Online Services?
Harris: Microsoft went to great lengths to make sure that the solution was the best fit for my company. (By contrast, the salesperson at Google kept repeating that the best way to try Google Apps is to buy it.) We replaced Google Apps with the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, which is available on a per-user, per-month basis—and we pay only for the services that we subscribe to. Everything is hosted at Microsoft data centers.
Q: What benefits have you seen since Aisle7 started using Microsoft Online Services?
Harris: I was tired of the headaches with Google Apps. I'm quite excited to be using tried-and-true Microsoft products. The Exchange Online pricing is competitive and the overall value is higher. There are all sorts of advanced functionalities you get from the full, rich feature set of the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. And it actually works. What a concept.
For more success stories like Jake Harris at Aisle7, read other real world testimonials on our whymicrosoft.com website.