Microsoft to SMBs: Avoid the ‘Google Tax’ in the Cloud
It’s been almost exactly a month since Microsoft took its last shot across the bow at Google Apps, so I suppose its latest attack was due: Over at the official Why Microsoft? site, Senior Director Tom Rizzo warns potential SMB customers against the hidden costs of a Google Apps deployment, which he calls the “Google Tax.” Rizzo said Microsoft uncovered this hidden Google Apps fees after surveying 90 Google Apps-using SMBs around the globe. Read on for more details and one Google reseller’s response …
What kind of hidden costs is Rizzo talking about? Well, in the blog entry, he said Google Apps doesn’t meet the needs of the modern SMB without add-ons from the Google Apps Marketplace, which can add up to an inflated TCO. What’s more, he said a lack of user familiarity with the Google Apps interface can lead to lost productivity as customers try to make their e-mail and calendar work as it does in Outlook.
More than that, it’s Rizzo’s supposition that it takes third-party applications to migrate data from an Exchange server to Google Apps, and said he found one that cost $20 per seat (though he didn’t link to a specific one). And for IT staff, Rizzo noted Google doesn’t provide 24 x 7 x 365 support, which can lead to headaches.
He reserved his final criticisms for the Google Docs web application. To hear Rizzo tell it, Google Docs has severe formatting issues that have driven 90 percent of those SMBs surveyed to keep their Microsoft Office licenses – and those licenses aren’t cheap. Of course, I find it odd that Rizzo would single out his own product’s often-prohibitive cost as a reason not to go to Google Apps, but that’s me.
The other dissatisfactions Rizzo said those companies had with Google Apps include a lack of security and no capability to work offline.
Here’s his conclusion on the additional costs of Google Apps:
Benjamin Franklin once said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that people and businesses should have to shoulder Google’s hidden costs. Once people see through the sales pitch, they realize just how poor the return on investment for Google Apps actually is, and why 750 million people have chosen Office to power their business.
I showed this to Michael Cohn, founder and VP of marketing of Cloud Sherpas, which is a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and service provider. Cohn took issue with Microsoft’s stance; for starters, he said, customers who get their Google Apps licenses through Cloud Sherpas get the SherpaTools administration suite for free, which addresses several of those deployment complaints.
Moreover, Cohn pointed out an application called myOneLogin, which provides single sign-on (SSO) across many SaaS offerings including Salesforce.com and Google Apps. And, he emphasized the fact that Google Apps offers two-factor authentication for all customers at no cost.
And as for those purported IT support headaches, Cohn noted that in his company’s experience, help desk calls actually go down when Google Apps is deployed, which is a major part of the value proposition in using a Google partner. Like most other Google resellers, Cloud Sherpas provides its own support and issue escalation for free.
Yeah, you have to pay for Google Postini Services if you want e-discovery and archiving. But the core security and spam protection is included in Gmail, again for free, Cohn said. And as for reliability, Cloud Sherpas has recorded four nines of availability, with no downtime due to “scheduled maintenance” or similar.
It’s extremely interesting to me that Cloud Sherpas’ response really seems to make a strong case for getting Google Apps licenses through a reseller. It’s also noteworthy that the last time I heard from Rizzo, he was trashing Google’s enterprise efforts.
But what I really want to call attention to is the fact that nowhere in Rizzo’s blog does he compare Google Apps to Microsoft Office 365, choosing instead to evaluate it against on-premises Exchange and Office. If you have any thoughts on why, we’d love to hear.