Prices for Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite and for Exchange Online are lower, as of today, as outlined in this InformationWeek article. At the same time, Microsoft announced both a list of large clients that have recently adopted one or both of the products, as well as expanded geographical coverage, bringing Singapore onboard, with access in India promised by the end of the year. More trials of the online apps are ongoing around the world, as well.
The price is nice, but isn't the main attraction for CIOs. According to the InformationWeek piece, those who go with BPOS or Exchange Online, over Google Apps, say, cite easy integration with Exchange or SharePoint on-premises, deep familiarity with Microsoft products and a way out if they realize they've made a bad business decision going with a Microsoft cloud computing solution. And when IT Business Edge's Ann All wrote her article, "Is Google Apps Good Enough for the Enterprise?" earlier this year, price points were often one of the first comparisons discussed, but CIOs and IT managers ended up making their choice by going with the product they felt was more feature-rich. Interestingly, that meant some looked at Google Apps but went with Microsoft Office and its long list of power-user-pleasing features, while others found that the slimmer Google Apps made a more favorable impression, simply because it was easier to get through the entire list of functions and decide whether anything crucial was missing. Lack of clarity about whether certain options were buried somewhere in Office actually played out in favor of Google Apps, even when both products in fact offered the desired functionality.
The widely cited switch that the city of Los Angeles will be making, from Novell GroupWise, will place Gmail alongside Microsoft desktop apps, a situation that Burton Group analyst Guy Creese tells PCWorld is increasingly common among larger companies.
Rather than an either-or situation, it's about efficiency. And many enterprises are also sticking with Microsoft, whether on the cloud or off, largely, writes Doug Brockway in his Working on Step 2 blog, because of the trust factor. Considering a small survey by TechRepublic that asked CIOs whether they trusted Microsoft or Google more as a partner, Brockway writes that more CIOs chose Microsoft because:
The CIOs that fought Microsoft in the 1990s are retiring. The then-young Turks who championed personal computing are increasingly CIOs. The Microsoft universe, from the desktop to SharePoint is in the IT budget and in the CIO's direct influence. Google, in large part, is neither.
That certainly makes sense if you refer back to the list of criteria CIOs gave for their decisions to go with Microsoft's online software. That's not to say, as Brockway points out, that Google isn't poised to seize the enterprise budget in a more solid manner, and possibly not that far from now. But the current environment requires a short-term focus which, rightly or wrongly, means CIOs are looking for solutions that are quick and easy for both IT and the end users -- and as quick and easy to back out of should that day come.