Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem - InformationWeek

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10/4/2013
09:42 PM
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey
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Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem

Our new survey delivers a good news/bad news scenario: Apps and Gmail are compared favorably one-to-one with Office and Exchange/Outlook. But a cloud stigma still sticks to Google in the enterprise.

Responses to InformationWeek's new Google in the Enterprise Survey are shades of every cloud poll we've ever done. Security and data privacy worries? Check. Connectivity complaints? Check. Sunk IT investments going to waste? Most definitely.

But what's interesting is that commenters among our 368 respondents don't measure Google and its productivity suite or mail against LibreOffice or Yahoo. They consistently compare the company with Microsoft.

"End user satisfaction is low when moving from Microsoft stack as Exchange and Outlook [are] tightly integrated with Office suite," says an enterprise architect. "Google Apps is not yet functionally on par with Office, especially with PowerPoint; therefore there is still a need to use Office. Google Apps is strongest in its ability to enable real-time collaboration on docs, which is main reason for adoption in our company."

Key words there in case you missed them: "yet" and "real-time collaboration."

"There are a lot of good features in Google products, but not everyone appreciates them ... because they aren't exactly like Outlook," says another commenter. "Collaboration tools are very good. We had a difficult time getting people to collaborate using Microsoft products, so this is a big improvement."

Google also scores big as a visionary for enterprise IT: 22% say its product line is consistently innovative and often leads the industry versus just 2% dismissing it as all flash, better suited for consumers.

Rhese Hoylman, president of GTIN Managed IT, has been a Google Apps reseller for about three years, and he's not surprised. "There are two key areas Google is attacking," says Hoylman. "The Office suite and the foundation-level back-end collaboration tech that the business runs on."

If the future is server-based Office versus Google Apps, the data shows Microsoft has a fight on its hands. Google is doing a good job pushing the message of no hardware infrastructure, less maintenance and lower cost, says Hoylman.

"For $50 per user per year you're all-in with spam filtering, security, and calendaring and collaboration that were built for cloud from the ground up, easing integration," he says. "Google offers an Outlook migration tool that's not difficult to use, though it does take attention to detail. Done properly, you'll maintain folder structure. You can even use an Outlook front end."

Some survey highlights: 34% have already standardized on Chrome as a browser, and 78% rate Google Apps as good (47%) or excellent (31%) for mobility. The No. 1 reason for supporting Google products is end user demand, and about 80% plan to get some percentage of their business applications from Google within two years. Respondents are about evenly split on whether Google's tendency to "fail fast," quickly shutting down projects that don't perform as desired, is a concern when considering it as a business applications provider: 54% say it's a major concern (39%) or deal breaker (15%) versus 46% calling it a minor concern (32%) or not a worry at all (14%).

(Watch for in-depth analysis in our Oct. 21 InformationWeek digital issue, along with a cloud infrastructure showdown.)

There's room to improve for Google. For one thing, IT hates unexpected interface changes. Moving users from Outlook to the Gmail "conversation" mode can be a hard row to hoe, and offline operation is a work in progress. There are verticals, such as healthcare or finance, where a shared Docs folder is never going to fly.

But naysayers should remember this: Apple rode into the enterprise on the strength of consumer affinity that eventually flattened entrenched IT resistance. Google says that 22% of U.S. school districts are using Chromebooks and points to its 99.9% uptime service-level agreement, SSAE 16/ISAE 3402 Type II audit and remote mobile device management, among other features important to IT.

While 32% of respondents say they don't support Google Apps/Gmail because they have a volume Windows license and need to use it, those licenses will eventually come up for renewal. If Google Apps can do 80% of what you need, does that 20% functionality gap justify the cost of reupping with Microsoft?

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MichaelM763
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MichaelM763,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2013 | 1:57:17 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
I would guess to say people using Chrome as their standard browser will rise above 50% within two years; far and away the best browser in my opinion.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2013 | 2:27:31 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
I'm also bullish on Chromebooks. Besides educational use, I just recommended one to a non-technical relative. No one needs a Windows PC with the associated costs and security risk if all they do is read email and check websites.
kmarko
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kmarko,
User Rank: Strategist
10/7/2013 | 3:47:37 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
As someone who hasn't used Outlook extensively in over 8 years, I am astounded that people still actually like this bloated mess of software. If you don't like Gmail, even the native mail apps on Windows 8.1 and OS X are better. I guess old habits die hard.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
10/7/2013 | 9:13:07 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
They do in my case. My wife loves Gmail but I'm uncomfortable with the UI, probably because I just don't use it all that often. I'm familiar and comfortable with Outlook and I'd be one of those die-hards if I found out it was going away in favor of Google.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2013 | 4:25:45 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
That is a higher % standardized on Chrome than I would have guessed. The 54% citing significant "fail fast" worries is a big deal. We hear this loud and clear from CIOs multiple times, the need to know Google is both planning for the long term and willing to work with CIOs on future roadmaps.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2013 | 4:41:34 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Laurie, another theme in free-form responses is a sense that Google is at best uninterested in engaging with enterprise technologists -- at worst, that it's arrogant. It is, again, shades of Apple, which has traditionally been seen as unwilling to work with IT. Right now, we're working to get a formal response from Google for the full report. It will be interesting to see what comes of that effort.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2013 | 4:54:40 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Sounds like a big part of the challenge is winning the approval of people who want Gmail to be like Outlook and Google Apps to be like MS Office, partly on the merits perhaps but also because of habitual use of the MS tools.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2013 | 5:04:03 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
As a follow up comment to the issues of moving users being hard due to the "conversation" mode in Gmail.. This can actually be turned off in Gmail to help ease the transition. Additionally, if the user continues to use Outlook as their front end during the "culture change" portion of the transition, then they will still see the messages in the format they are used to regardless of the Gmail setting. These are all good reasons why organizations with more than a few users should consult with a reseller who can help guide them through the process. For our customers, they haven't really noticed a difference, and the vast majority moved very smoothly into Gmail with minimal orientation and training! Once in, the added strength of the search, collaboration and 3rd party integrations seals the deal.
Rhese Hoylman
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Rhese Hoylman,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2013 | 5:12:19 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
As a follow up comment to the issues of moving users being hard due to the "conversation" mode in Gmail.. This can actually be turned off in Gmail to help ease the transition. Additionally, if the user continues to use Outlook as their front end during the "culture change" portion of the transition, then they will still see the messages in the format they are used to regardless of the Gmail setting. These are all good reasons why organizations with more than a few users should consult with a reseller who can help guide them through the process. For our customers, they haven't really noticed a difference, and the vast majority moved very smoothly into Gmail with minimal orientation and training! Once in, the added strength of the search, collaboration and 3rd party integrations seals the deal.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2013 | 5:49:32 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Thanks for jumping in, Rhese. What would you say to people who think Google as a company is not responsive? As a reseller, I assume you have dedicated contacts, but overall, have you seen more willingness to take into consideration what enterprises want? And, how about that issue of surprise UI and feature changes?
Rhese Hoylman
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Rhese Hoylman,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2013 | 2:45:03 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Lorna: Yes, as a reseller we do have access to account managers, and an enterprise support system. However, anyone that is discussing a lack of support response from Google must not be referring to the Google Apps for Business product (maybe the personal products). Google Apps for Business includes ticketed, email and phone based support, and not only that, but it is at no-charge, and is available to all paid users for the core suite of products (Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Docs/Drive, etc..). Google does ask that users reserve the phone support option for "critical" issues, but it is available if you need it. Additionally, if you work with a reseller on your implementation, then the reseller typically acts as a first line of support as well.
Google's Blog entry re support: http://googleenterprise.blogsp...

Regarding the UI changes.. yes, there are ongoing improvements and changes to the UI (applications are all always a work in progress). Again, there are procedures in place that allow you to manage how and when these changes are implemented on your account. Changes are announced in advance and organizations can elect to be on the "scheduled" release plan (vs. the rapid release plan). For our customers, we put them on the scheduled release plan thus allowing us to test the UI changes in advance and prepare the clients for the upcoming change with appropriate communication or training in advance. Actually this is a much better approach than traditional "Office" applications, where there is no real change or innovation for months or years, then one big massive complete change all at once. Users tend to get used to the gradual change on a constant basis rather than huge changes all at once.
More about Release Tracks in Google: http://whatsnew.googleapps.com...

Lastly I agree with the other comments here that users are generally resistant to change and that can be overcome with successful planning, training and follow-up during the migration process.
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2013 | 7:59:33 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
One of the valuable lessons about what went right when the U.S. General Services Administration migrated 17,000 employees over to Google apps and email in the cloud was the intense attention to communication and training that preceded and accompanied the transition. GSA essentially moved everyone's email cheese. But they were smart in helping employees prepare for the move, and how to move with it.
x7c00
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x7c00,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2013 | 12:30:32 AM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
After observing hundreds of users who I switched to Google Apps I think It's not just the conversation mode thing or the changes in interface for no apparent reason - except to keep developers busy thing - It's that many people are adverse to change of any sort. The folks who complain the loudest about GMails' conversation mode or the flat 2d interface or the way buttons appear then disappear - no ribbon, no tabs, "Where's the button for ..." folks - are the same people who complained about every version of Outlook being different.
Some of this complaining is reasonable some is not. People are most comfortable with what they're familiar with - surprise! Some of us tech people are no different. I remember helping one lady with Gphobia and spending a lot of time patiently answering her questions that I had asked her to compile over a weeks' trial period. I had many of these questions myself when I first used Gmail. I needed to win her over because she was well liked and respected in the office and her opinion really mattered with the other workers - including the bosses. I offered to hook her Outlook up as the front end if, after 2 weeks, she still hated Gmail. She had nothing to loose. She eventually came to prefer Gmail and liked the fact that she was now the office Gmail Guru. This was not totally due to my scheming. She was/is smart and quick and just needed a little reassurance and tutoring. Winning over the key people pays off in fewer help desk calls and many fewer death stares when I enter an office.
I (Mr. Change is Good) on the other hand was pissed that same week when I noticed that Google had changed and reorganized the Google Apps management console - for no other reason than to keep their developers busy.
Please ask them to work on perfecting Excel conversion before they make anymore interface changes. Or perhaps they could send send some patient Google Peep down to earth to personally tutor and reassure me. Fat chance.

Tim
x7c00
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x7c00,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2013 | 12:50:35 AM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
I also love Chromebooks although I have not been able to sell the idea to any clients. I think the delivery of a functional desktop is the future of computing. I'd be shocked if Microsoft didn't move in this direction when they finally get the O365 monster to a stable place.
Google has to give the ChromeBooks/boxes the ability to easily connect to a network attached printer. Google Cloud Print is one of the things killing the word of mouth buzz. I might as well be discussing Algebra when I tell people about Google Cloud print. It's the same look I get when explaining Apple AirPrint. You know the look. Don't lie.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2013 | 1:30:36 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Indeed - printing is a big problem. That was a smart move on the Gmail, winning over an "influencer" - way to use those soft skills :->
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2013 | 12:57:35 AM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Some of the resistance to Google Apps is simply that it's different (which is not the same as evaluating software and finding it worse). People don't like change.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/8/2013 | 3:36:15 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
I've been asking myself how I would feel if my company switched to Gmail/Google Apps tomorrow (we currently use Outlook). It would be a big transition even though I've used Gmail as personal email for six years! I think I'm stuck on the perception that Gmail is for play, Outlook is for work, and I kind of like it that way.
Jack N FranF583
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Jack N FranF583,
User Rank: Guru
10/8/2013 | 5:18:46 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Elsewhere on the internet it was stated that some Google employees are measurably 300 times more effective than average. Just because most employees do grunt work and cannot be trusted to collaborate is no reason that a CIO that wanted to keep his job for 3 more years should not set up a skunk-works of about a dozen 'rising stars' to see what they could do better than the grunts at preparing for the cloud.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2013 | 2:33:17 PM
re: Google's Enterprise Cloud Problem
Have you or your company set up such a skunk-works trial? It sounds great in theory, I just wonder how you get really busy people (rising stars are by definition busy I think) to set aside the time. You'd need a C-level champion on the business side.
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