HEAD IN THE CLOUDS: Week 3


Man with clouds for a head and wearing a bowler hat

It is hard to stay on top of the latest news, events and rumblings tied to cloud computing and the cloud vendors responsible for it.  For many of us, our memories are not what they use to be, making it even harder to keep up.  Here are a few conversational topics that have come up recently, along with my thoughts, perspectives and observations:

Moving to G Suite but Still Need Microsoft?

I have had the opportunity to work with and talk to more and more enterprises, not just in retail, that are moving away (or considering moving away) from Microsoft Office 365 and moving to Google G Suite. Often, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is also being considered as part of this digital initiative.  With GCP, the scenario is usually a head-to-head evaluation and competitive environment between GCP and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.  When it is not a retail or media and entertainment company, Amazon AWS has also been considered which, given their market share position, probably doesn’t come as any surprise.

My experience tells me that any enterprise considering a move away from Microsoft Office 365 that’s perhaps also considering GCP, must ensure they set themselves up for a successful migration and they approach the contractual relationship discussions with Microsoft and Google in the right manner.  If not done correctly, the outcomes can be devastating.  Not to be overly dramatic, but that is really the best way I can describe some of the situations and outcomes I have come across in talking to enterprises that may have jumped too quickly.   It is not to say these outcomes can’t be corrected — because they can be — but it is not easy.

Most enterprises that ultimately decide to move away from Microsoft Office 365 and make the switch to Google Cloud and Google G Suite, will still be left with a need to utilize Microsoft products (SQL Server is a great example).  There are also scenarios where a decision is made to adopt Google G Suite for the deskless workers within the enterprise rather than going with Office 365 F1.  In those situations, there is a mix of Office 365 and Google G Suite.

Microsoft renewal negotiations are challenging enough, but moving away from Office 365, most likely reducing your annual commitment, and giving your dollars to one of their biggest competitors, makes it even more challenging.  “Challenging” may not even be the right word!  The good thing is, if planned and executed correctly, there are ways to still be left with an optimal and commercially competitive go-forward relationship with Microsoft.

Also, on the Google side of the equation, the negotiation and contracting can’t be rushed just because everyone is excited to make the leap.  Deep discounting (perhaps free???) is only one piece to the puzzle.  It is critical to take the appropriate time to ensure all the components of the deal and go-forward relationship are right and competitive (protections, flexibility, investments, etc.).

A great deal today can quickly become a bad day tomorrow and when tomorrow comes (and it will) you certainly are going to have a hard time going back to Microsoft if Google is not willing to make things better.  Could you image how that conversation would go?

“Hi Microsoft, we’re back and we would like a great deal.  No hard feelings, hopefully, for what we did a few years ago.”

Facebook Workplace – Time to Pay Attention?

According to recent reports and figures shared, Facebook currently has roughly two million paying Workplace users and they have 150 enterprise customers with more than 10,000 users each.  Facebook also notes on their website that there are over 30,000 global organizations (large and small) that use Workplace.  Some of the customers identified include Walmart, Campbell’s and Starbucks.  A pretty good list!

To be honest, I wasn’t aware Facebook had any real traction with enterprises, so these numbers and the customers identified came as somewhat of a surprise.  These numbers could be a bit skewed in that some of these enterprise customers may have “adopted” but are not truly using it yet or getting full value.  They may have also signed up because the price was too good to not at least give it a try (e.g., free or pretty close to free).  The Standard version is already $0.  Premium is only $3 per active user per month and that is list!  I am sure Walmart, Campbell’s and Starbucks are not paying list (or at least I hope not).

Newly appointed head of Workplace and former Microsoft executive, Karandeep Anand, is certainly doing a great job thus far. It will be interesting to see how many new enterprises adopt moving forward, at what pace and how big the deals are (are the enterprises doing slow roll outs or more of a “big bang” adoption?).  It will be especially interesting to see how Facebook does when they are going head-to-head with enterprise vendors like Microsoft (Teams) and Slack in a competitive environment.

I would also like to see how many adoptions come as a true competitor replacement (like a long-standing Microsoft enterprise customer that adopted Teams and has decided to make the switch).  With Google Cloud also recently bringing Google+ back from the dead and rebranding it Google Currents to sell to enterprises as another alternative to Workplace, Teams and Slack, Facebook will have yet another competitor to go up against and one that made it very clear that they will be going after the enterprise more aggressively now.

The bottom line for me…Microsoft and Slack both need to start taking Facebook and Facebook Workplace more seriously — and so does Google.

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