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  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Written by on Monday, December 3, 2012 12:09 - 15 Comments

    Microsoft’s war on Google Apps gets nasty

    blog Arch-rivals Microsoft and Google have been trading blows in the office productivity and collaboration space in Australia for a while now. With the popularity of IBM’s offerings gradually falling away, Google, with its Apps and Gmail products, has emerged as the main rival to Microsoft’s dominant Office and Outlook/Exchange ecosystem. Normally the pair are fairly polite about their rivalry, with each preferring to hype up the value of their own products and detailing new customers without mentioning the competition. But now Microsoft has gotten a little bit, well, aggressive in its Office 365 push in Australia, producing an entire local case study which appears designed to demonstrate how unsuitable Gmail in particular is for its purpose.

    The case study, published in full online, details the experiences of A.P. Eagers, a sizable automotive retailer based in Brisbane. Initially the company had been looking to shift off an in-house Exchange 2003 instance and onto Gmail. However, Microsoft appears to have persuaded it otherwise. Some sample paragraphs:

    “A.P. Eagers also had concerns about the ongoing availability of some of the features that the test group was using. In order to obtain all of the functionality the company was looking for in an enterprise email system, test users relied on a number of Google Mail Labs, which are experimental new features that Google engineers are working on. While the Labs provided needed features, there was no guarantee that those features would be available in the future. “When we looked at the support agreement, it covered only the base product, with no support for any of the Labs, or any guarantee they would be maintained, and we were using a number of them. So from a purely contractual standpoint, the product itself was below the standard that we required. This reduced our confidence in the solution.”

    A.P. Eagers was also worried about the change management requirements to get all of its employees working successfully on Google Mail, at the productivity levels that they had with the existing Exchange Server 2003 system. The company recognized that this would require extensive hands-on training from the partner and from Google. Some members of the evaluation team required more than a day of one-on-one training, and when A.P. Eagers calculated the effort required to train the rest of the business, they saw that the requirements would be massive in terms of time and resources.”

    The entire case study is scorching towards Gmail, picking apart the Google offering on a variety of fronts, and while it obviously details the views of the customer concerned, A.P. Eagers, it’s not hard to view the retailer’s comments as a proxy for Microsoft’s own concerns with Google Apps and all it represents. In turn, if Microsoft Australia is willing to get stuck into Google this hard, it’s hard not to feel that Google must be making some mileage with its enterprise products in Australia. And if the slew of case studies issued by Google Australia and published by other media outlets recently is any indication (Fire & Rescue NSW, Elders Real Estate, Specsavers, Woolworths, Fairfax), the company must indeed making some headway. Sounds like game on.

    Image credit: Microsoft, Creative Commons

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    1. Posted 03/12/2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink |

      Looking through current Lab offerings I can’t help but ask what features they would consider mission critical enough to justify them rejecting the product. This screams of marketing double speak.

      • Tinman_au
        Posted 03/12/2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink |

        I’m thinking the Signature one, the SMS one and possibly the Multiple Inbox one (for who ever is checking the Sales@, Contact@ type emails).

        Not that any of them are “required”, they could have used any number of email clients that support way more options than either Google Mail or Office 365 offer if that was a real problem for them.

        I’m thinking that MS actually cut Eagers a deal they couldn’t say “No” to though, MS can be very accommodating when they want something (like a Australian “success story”).

        • Dean
          Posted 03/12/2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink |

          Maybe “Default Text Styling” — you’d be surprised how many people consider it vitally important that their emails all appear in Times New Roman or whatever :)

    2. level380
      Posted 03/12/2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink |

      Sniff sniff…. If it smells and looks like shite, then you know what they say

    3. Wakie
      Posted 03/12/2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink |

      Extensive hands-on training? Why not just continue using Outlook?

      Something smells fishy.

    4. Posted 03/12/2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink |

      Unless it’s independently funded and conducted by a non-affiliated research body using objective measures, it’s marketing speak.

      I’d hate to think Delimiter are regurgitating *anyone’s* marketing “research and case studies”.

    5. p3ngwin
      Posted 03/12/2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink |

      “When we looked at the support agreement, it covered only the base product, with no support for any of the Labs, or any guarantee they would be maintained, and we were using a number of them.

      yes, that is what LABS are, unsupported experimental features that may or may not become stable releases in future. You are invited to enjoy experimenting with them to aid the development through data analytic, you’re “dog-fooding” the product in it’s BETA form.

      what you aren’t supposed to do is to subscribe to features that were never claimed to be stable and then complain they aren’t stable or supported enough for a company’s official infrastructure.

      using them and complaining they are not supported or guaranteed in any way shows you either don’t understand the technology you’re using or you genuinely are deceiving people who may not know any better.

      • Tom
        Posted 03/12/2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink |

        You’ve completely missed the point of the comments.

        It’s making comment that the Labs functionality was required to bring Google Apps up to being equivalent to Microsoft’s product. And Microsoft’s support agreement will include those capabilities.

        The fact that Google never claimed them to be stable is moot when a customer requires them to be. Questioning how vital those capabilities actually are might be a viable criticism.

        • p3ngwin
          Posted 03/12/2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink |


          “Although we limited user mailbox sizes, we had email databases that had grown to more than a terabyte in size, which meant that recovery times for any type of disaster were greater than 24 hours, so we sometimes couldn’t meet the service agreements we had with the business. As the system grew in scale, it was harder and harder for us to deliver an exceptional level of service to employees at all of our locations.”

          The company’s on-premises solution was run primarily out of a single data center, with a second, smaller data center in another state. That additional location did not have on-site personnel with the skill set necessary to deal with email server issues, so IT staff had to fly from Brisbane to Darwin to work on it.

          they had a database of Emails barley scratching the cost of a $100 hard drive yet they had such lousy redundancy infrastructure it would take 24 hours to get it running again?

          “There were some trivial concerns, but also others that were real problems for us,” says Pearce. “For example, there were frequent formatting problems with email messages—a message containing a table might show up at the other end as a single sentence or an incorrectly formatted paragraph.

          and how was the formatted table created? did someone paste it from Microsoft’s office? was it constructed in Yahoo mail or some other vendor’s domain? no details about how the corrupted data was created in the first place.

          “A.P. Eagers also had concerns about the ongoing availability of some of the features that the test group was using. In order to obtain all of the functionality the company was looking for in an enterprise email system, test users relied on a number of Google Mail Labs, which are experimental new features that Google engineers are working on.”

          did Google present these features as supported and guaranteed? Did the company enable the features despite knowing they were experimental ? again, no details. i find it hard to believe Google presented a solution that included unsupported LABS features.

          “In our business, cost is the number one driver for IT,” notes Pearce. “When we considered the total cost of change, Office 365 was the best choice for us.”

          well far be it for me to say they should be focused on the VALUE of any change, as opposed to narrowly focusing on the cost, but it seems this company cares more for NOT making investments regardless of whatever value they may bring.

          ‘There were additional support concerns as well. The Google Mail solution was designed to be totally supported through a Google partner, rather than by Google itself, and A.P. Eagers saw that as a problem. “With Google Mail, we were totally dependent on the partner and therefore limited by their abilities.’

          so you’re commenting on the competency of the support partner here?

          “In addition to working with the local Microsoft team, A.P. Eagers enlisted the help of InverseCurve, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies that is based in Wooloongabba, Queensland. “An important difference between our Google Mail experience and our Office 365 experience was the professionalism and knowledge of the partner we were working with,” says Pearce.”

          apparently being supported by a Microsoft partner isn’t a problem.

          the whole article screams of paid advertising.

    6. Tom
      Posted 03/12/2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink |

      You’re still missing the point of the studies comments about Labs being unsupported.

      Its plain and simple, Company states they require Feature A fully supported in a product.

      Case study by company states a problem with Google is that Feature A is only available through in an unsupported function through the Labs. This isn’t acceptable to company, so its marked as a negative against Google.

      Microsoft meanwhile fully supports Feature A.

      The real point to raise against the Study is whether Feature A is truly a critical functionality. Or whether its just Microsoft Gold Plating, that a company doesn’t truly need.

      And you go off ranting against them for finding this in the study? Your analysis of the Labs functionality agreed with the study found, the case study just finds that makes Google’s product unacceptable, especially when the alternative product does fully support the Feature.

      The case study states that they required the use of Google Labs features to get all of the functionality they required. That means that Google’s product doesn’t have all of the functionality requested and it would be just as valid to simply state that. Instead it details that Google can fulfill that requirement in an unsupported way, that is not guaranteed to remain available. I find it hard to believe that Google wouldn’t bring in “under development Labs functionality” to fill in parts of the requirements their product doesn’t fully cover.

      • p3ngwin
        Posted 03/12/2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink |

        and you’re missing the point that the study doesn’t mention whether Google promised/suggested the LABS features in an effort to meet the company’s needs, or if the company chose to use them by their own volition.

        I know what the article’s focus is, i simply care less about it and have found other points within it to focus on. you can choose to focus one what you like, i’m simply stating my interests and you don’t get to dismiss them and claim i’m missing the point of the article while you claim what “the real issue is”.

        the company complained the LABS features weren’t supported, i care less about features meeting their needs and i’m more interested in who said they should use LABS.

        like i said, i find it hard to believe Google would suggest using LABS features in such a large contract for a company.

        does the study find that the company found Microsoft’s solution better, yes it does and that was never questioned. my comment, which you seem to ignore, focuses on a few points, one of which being the companies criticism of unsupported LABS features and who is responsible for using them.

        You say “the real point to raise against the Study is whether Feature A is truly a critical functionality”, which doesn’t make it a real point just because you say it is. I could just as easily say the real point is to learn who is responsible for using the LABS features.

        “And you go off ranting against them for finding this in the study?”

        who’s ranting? are you so insecure and emotionally unstable that you can’t engage people in rational discourse without overreacting and perceiving people ranting around you?

    7. Posted 03/12/2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink |

      Interesting, in the Google Mail (note note GoogleApps) evaluation section Microsoft and Outlook are mentioned a total of 0 times, and every paragraph is disparaging towards Google. A highlight paragraph being:

      There were additional support concerns as well. The Google Mail solution was designed to be totally supported through a Google partner, rather than by Google itself, and A.P. Eagers saw that as a problem. “With Google Mail, we were totally dependent on the partner and therefore limited by their abilities. We would have to rely on them to provide us tools to do things like user administration and account changes,” says Pearce. “Initially, there was not even an administrator portal to allow our IT team and help-desk operators to perform basic tasks—we would need the partner to develop one. That was a major limitation.”

      GoogleApps has a web portal for administration, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have it, I mean how could you possibly run a hosted web corporate web service without one? Unless of course they were just evaluation Gmail and not GoogleApps.

      In the Microsoft Office 365 / Microsoft Outlook Online evaluation section Google is mentioned 8 times across the 5 paragraphs, again every paragraph is disparaging towards Google. Probably my favourite is this one:

      “For many years, our employees have seen Microsoft Outlook as synonymous with email,” says Pearce. “So even in our Google Mail test group, some employees were relying on Outlook as their client for Google Mail. When they did that, they lost some of the features of Office Outlook, so what they ended up with was a watered-down Outlook, compared to what we had with Exchange Server 2003. In the end, we had a less-capable version of email than we had with our on-premises solution.”

      So the evaluation was to use Google Mail as a pop3/smtp mail host and not in the way it’s intended to be used?

      This is not a case study, it’s not even a product evaluation, this reeks of a paid advertisement.

      • p3ngwin
        Posted 04/12/2012 at 12:50 am | Permalink |

        totally agreed.

        the way the company isn’t happy with anything of Google’s, not a single PRO regarding any feature, then nothing but praise for the Microsoft solution as if they’re best buddies ?

        totally paid advertising.

      • tinman_au
        Posted 04/12/2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink |

        I know I got an admin portal when I setup my family Gmail group, seems odd that the paid-for version wouldn’t offer it.

        And I really doubt they’ll be dealing direct with MS, no doubt their ongoing contact will be through a MS partner (Data#3 or someone like it) for support/training.

    8. Dugesh
      Posted 16/04/2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink |

      Microsoft has run out of ideas and cannot compete on merits. Resorting to dirty tricks. But dirty tricks will not save MS

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