Microsoft: Are Google Partners Jumping Ship?
In a recent blog post, Microsoft has taken the war of words over Google Apps directly to the IT channel. The name of the post in question: “Why are Partners Leaving Google Apps?” It’s a loaded question, to be sure, but it raises a key discussion points for Google and its reseller base alike. Here’s the scoop.
Skirmishes between Microsoft and Google are nothing new, but they’ve been exacerbated by the launch of new versions of Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, and especially Office. Google’s campaigning for channel attention on the platform that it’s easier and cheaper to “upgrade” to their messaging and collaboration solutions, while Microsoft’s position has always been that they have, by leaps and bounds, the more standards-driven, robust solution.
As evidence for this perceived mass Google partner exodus, the blog presents the case of Capgemini, a Google Apps reseller that recently announced an alliance with Microsoft to offer their own BPOS productivity cloud suite — a case they take to assume that their customer base voted with their dollars against Google Apps.
The blog also has quotes from other guest posts on Microsoft blogs in which former Google Apps users talk about their decision to move to Microsoft solutions. The point made there is that Google Apps was designed for consumers, not enterprises, and that Microsoft’s products are still the standard for corporations the world over.
My take? Microsoft raises legitimate concerns about the maturity of Google Apps. But the fact that the only supporting evidence they have comes from Microsoft partners and guest posts on Microsoft’s own blogs, my instinct says let’s keep things in perspective.
There’s no denying that Google Apps is still a work-in-progress, with new features and updates constantly coming down the pipeline. But it’s that same constant hassle-free continual upgrade cycle that makes it a serious contender.
In other words, Google Apps is good and getting better, and Microsoft would do well not to rest on its laurels — especially since roughly 20 percent of managed services providers are embracing Google Apps, according to the third-annual MSPmentor 100 survey, published in February 2010.
Microsoft may have the market cornered when it comes to Fortune 500 companies, and rightfully so, but there are so many SMBs out there looking for something cheaper and easier to deploy that I just can’t see Google Apps partners defecting en masse. And even if they did, why would they go to BPOS by default and not competitors like Zoho or LotusLive?