When I sit down and talk with business customers and organizations to discuss benefits in moving to the cloud, the first thing they point out is that they want to move in careful phases, at their own pace, as they have done with any major IT implementation. That’s just smart. Plan carefully and manage the risk. However, Google’s approach to delivering cloud productivity is actually ‘one size fits all.’ They encourage customers to create and store all of their productivity work in the cloud and that’s great, if it meets your organization’s business needs.
The fact is that customers do need flexibility. Bandwidth constraints, security management preferences, offline access, regulatory constraints and greater control are a few of the reasons why businesses require on-premises applications and/or data as part of their solutions. After nearly five years in the market, that’s part of the reason why Google Apps has made so little traction as an alternative to Office.
Businesses Need Cloud Options
For most businesses, the Google model simply doesn’t support the level of flexibility they require. In fact, according to this chart from the global survey of 307 cloud specialists in 200 to 5,000 employee organizations by The Open Group, for 45%, the hybrid model best meets their requirements, and for 20% it is the private cloud model. The public model, Google’s sole approach to serving cloud customers, is an option for just 17% of the organizations.
Which Cloud Deployment Model Best Meets Your Organization’s Business Requirements?
|Source: The Open Group Cloud Computing Survey, May 9, 2011|
Fitting Enterprise Needs
Some enterprises are moving certain work streams like email, into the cloud, and they often have a desire to keep other work such as accounting on premise. And there is nothing wrong with that; many simply want a solution that supports a hybrid cloud model, with some applications or data in the cloud and other information housed in on-premises servers. In fact, here is how Fortune sees the enterprise transition to the cloud:
“Cloud computing has become a key piece of an enterprise's IT strategy, typically used in a hybrid (cloud plus on-premise) model of computing that offers customers the best of both worlds: the ability to keep their data on-premise, while leveraging the cloud's accelerated software development speeds and lower costs by eliminating the need to invest in ongoing on-premise hardware and software. A common example of hybrid is being able to develop applications and test them in the cloud before releasing them onto internal networks.”
-- Charlotte Dunlap for Fortune
Staged transitions to the cloud let organizations manage some functions in-house as they build experience with cloud services or technologies. They migrate some workloads to a public cloud and/or to a private cloud, building their “best fit” cloud solution. Microsoft is talking freely to customers about public, private and hybrid cloud alternatives because we can provide all of these solutions. Only Microsoft gives companies and institutions this level of flexibility, rather than mandating that you move everything to the cloud at once.
A Staged Cloud Transition
Having flexibility, in this case the option to retain some productivity applications on premises and move some to the cloud, was important to the professional firm, MITIE, as they selected a cloud solution for their UK-based workforce of 56,000 employees.
“Moving to Google Apps meant accepting an ultimatum—the cloud or nothing. With Microsoft, we are able to move to the cloud at our own pace, when the time is right for us. We are growing fast and keen to transition to cloud services, but we also want to be in control of our own destiny. With Microsoft, we get the choice and flexibility we want with the added benefits of a consistent, familiar user experience and a platform that we have full confidence in to meet our enterprise needs.”
-- David Aird, Head of Group IT, MITIE
After evaluating Google and Microsoft alternatives, the company chose Microsoft online services in the cloud in tandem with Microsoft Office 2010, on-premises. You can learn more about their competitive evaluation in the MITIE customer case study.
What’s truly gratifying in working with Office customers each day is to know how many people rely on our products to be productive. In fact, business customers are deploying Office 2010 five times faster than Office 2007, and nearly 50 million people use the Office Web Apps to view, edit, and share Office documents from anywhere with a browser and an Internet connection. As more businesses and organizations consider moving to the cloud, we’ll continue to provide tools that are familiar, robust and well-supported, enabling them to choose the ‘fit’ that’s right for them, whether the tools are in the cloud, on premises or both.
The Cloud Brought to You by Office 365
Customers are excited about cloud options. More than 200,000 businesses signed up to for Office 365 public beta. Since the Office 365 launch, one organization signs up to try the service every twenty five seconds. Small businesses, the core group who have used Google Apps previously, showed their eagerness to use Office 365, representing over 70% of the beta registrations.
One reason why businesses of all sizes are so excited about Office 365 is due to its collaboration capabilities. In the past some small businesses were plagued by version control issues when using email attachments as their primary way to collaborate on documents. With Office 365 they can easily stay on the same page as their colleagues and customers. They can:
- Work together on files and documents simultaneously.
- Stay connected using instant messaging and video conferencing.
- Conduct real time, virtual meetings with co-workers and customers.
- Share their calendars with team members and access mail and calendars on multiple devices including PCs, Macs, iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry smartphones, Windows Mobile and Windows Phones.
- Create and maintain compelling websites, and edit them as easily as a Word document.
Office 365 not only delivers these capabilities but it does so using the Office applications people depend on every day—including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Outlook, all connected to the industry’s leading business communication and collaboration services, including Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.
It’s no wonder we’re bullish about Office 365 and excited to see our approach to productivity so widely embraced.