Today’s guest blogger is Stuart Robertson, CEO of Software Wholesale International (SWI), a Microsoft Tier 3 cloud champion and a Microsoft licensing partner for the past decade. Based in Boulder County, Colorado, SWI is multi-million dollar volume software licensing business and a reseller of Microsoft Office 365.
At least 60 percent to 75 percent of our clients are moving to the cloud because they have hardware and software that need to be retired. With the down economy over the past few years, many small businesses have held off making new IT expenditures, and they’re essentially facing outdated, out-of-support hardware and software. Office 365 offers them a way to reduce operational costs and simplify IT by eliminating their bond to an on-premises hardware and software environment.
Another driver is disaster recovery and avoidance. With the growing number of hurricanes and other natural disasters, organizations' technical infrastructures are at risk, and they’re looking for ways to protect their businesses. For example, one client called us from New York worried about property damage, looting and losing their documents during Hurricane Irene last year. Manhattan was scheduled for an unprecedented evacuation, and they wanted to protect their systems against water damage and looting. After we talked, the company’s employees saved all of their documents to the cloud using SharePoint Online. We prepared for the disaster using Office 365.
The Office 365 Difference
Most of our customers evaluate both Office 365 and Google Apps before making a decision. That’s why it’s so important to have a good partner involved to help clarify what’s at stake.
What differentiates Office 365 is that building productivity and communications software is Microsoft’s core competency and its core business. Google is an advertising and Internet search engine company, and not a software company. By contrast, Microsoft is a software company that has been building software for over 25 years.
About 15 percent of the clients we’ve migrated to Office 365 have switched from Google Apps. Most chose Google Apps initially without making a comparison, only to realize that it doesn’t meet their needs. We’ve heard clients complain that Google Apps is missing functionality, that it lacks an intuitive interface, that it requires too much training, that it’s difficult to share data, and that it’s unstable. “It’s just not working for us,” is what a lot of people say.
Google Apps: Not a Viable Choice
While Google Apps may work in certain closed scenarios, it’s really not a viable choice if you need to communicate—and every organization, even if it’s a single employee, needs to communicate with the larger world. For example, users sometimes lose formatting when printing documents or opening Office documents using Google Apps. In addition, calendar sharing always seems to come up with customers. Calendar sharing within Gmail is difficult to use, it doesn’t work well, and it requires plug-ins to work with Outlook.
In addition, Google Apps is really limited in terms of the functionality it offers. Programs like Microsoft Word and Excel have had features added and deleted and refined over the past 25 years. Once people start using Google Apps, they’re suddenly working from programs that haven’t been through that same rigorous process, and they become frustrated.
The difference really comes down to the power of Microsoft Office. The amount of mindshare that Microsoft has put into its productivity apps over the years is astounding. It’s what makes Office what it is today.