White Paper: Customers find value by choosing Office 365


More and more organizations worldwide derive value from using familiar, commercial-grade tools in Microsoft Office 365 as their complete productivity solution—in cloud or hybrid environments. This paper examines the hidden costs paid by businesses that used Google Apps for Work and demonstrates how businesses that choose Office 365 or organizations that switch from Google to Office 365 can improve teamwork, reduce IT costs, and meet security and compliance requirements more reliably.

More and more businesses worldwide continue to choose Office 365 as their complete productivity solution. This paper illustrates how organizations derive value from Office 365, and reveals the hidden costs of choosing Google Apps for Work as experienced by customers that switched from Google. When Kindred Healthcare acquired a smaller organization that was using Gmail for remote employees, it was forced to evaluate its options for cloud-computing solutions. Kindred chose Microsoft Office 365 over Google Apps for Work due to its comprehensive and familiar user capabilities, security and compliance features, and multiple deployment options. The hybrid deployment option was of particular interest to Kindred Healthcare, because it enabled the company to provide seamless communications between on-site therapists using Office 365 and office-based employees using Microsoft on-premises solutions.

Office 365 also met the organization’s security and compliance requirements, which they felt Google was unable to do. Kindred has used Office 365 to improve teamwork, facilitate employee integration after acquisitions, reduce support and administration costs, and improve the scalability of its solutions. Kindred Healthcare is just one example of how organizations are realizing the value of Office 365. Many customers have switched from Google Apps to realize the same benefits. Overall, there are at least five key areas where customers find major advantages in choosing Office 365:

  • Complete Solution – Office 365 is a fully integrated productivity suite, with built-in communication, collaboration, and Enterprise Social capabilities –no third-party add-ons required.
  • Commercial Grade – Microsoft has a proven track record of delivering industry expertise and value to business organizations of all sizes. Office 365 delivers the reliability, transparency, and control that empowers IT to efficiently manage the business.
  • Trustworthy – Organizations expect services that are supported by rigorous operational practices and processes regarding security and data handling. Because Office 365 is independently verified to meet requirements specified in ISO 27001 and the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, and is willing to sign the EU Model Clauses and a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with all customers, it helps customers meet the privacy, security and compliance requirements that are relevant to their business. Office 365 safeguards customer information while leading the industry in privacy, security, and compliance.
  • Familiar user experience – Microsoft has been the leader in productivity software for more than two decades. Office 365 builds on the familiar experience of Microsoft Office products so that employees can transition to the cloud without compromising their productivity.
  • Flexibility to have a cloud and server option – Many organizations are not yet ready to make a wholesale move to the cloud. The flexibility of a hybrid solution enables them to use both cloud and server options at the same time, and to move to the cloud at their own pace.

Commercial Grade

“Caltex chose Microsoft [Office 365] instead of the other solutions because we wanted a vendor with a proven delivery in the enterprise space and a very strong product roadmap.” Steve Fox, CIO, Caltex Australia

Organizations want to partner with a service provider that has a proven track record for reliably providing enterprise-class capabilities. Microsoft has more than two decades of leadership in enterprise productivity software. Today, it delivers enterprise products and services backed by billions spent on research and development in 2012. With 83 percent of its revenues coming from enterprise software in 2013, Microsoft is very focused on enabling its customers’ employees to deliver more value.

Technology research company Gartner Inc., has recognized Microsoft as a “leader” in several of its Magic Quadrant reports for 2013 and 2014, related to business productivity. No other vendor appears across so many Magic Quadrant reports in the business productivity space.

“The nine months we used Google Apps were some of the most challenging of my career. It was like night and day moving to the tried-and-true business productivity applications in Office 365.” Jake Harris, Director of IT, Aisle7

Microsoft has a proven track record of delivering enterprise-grade solutions, a financially-backed service level guarantee, and a strong product roadmap. Office 365 for Business plans offer a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with a financially backed SLA and 24/7 IT-level phone support to provide help whenever customers need it. The change-management approach for Office 365, documented in the Microsoft Online Services Support Lifecycle Policy, provides consistent and predictable guidelines for product support availability throughout the lifetime of each product.

Google, on the other hand, is focused on search and advertising. Based on its 2014 earnings report, more than 90 percent of its revenues come from advertising. Google touts Google Apps for Work as a low-cost option for organizations, but many customers and partners who have used it find it lacking and do not deem it enterprise-ready.

  • Lack of enterprise capabilities
  • Lack of integration with existing software
  • Additional help desk and support costs



Office 365 delivers the privacy and security measures that organizations need as they transition their business processes to the cloud. Office 365 is independently verified to meet the requirements specified in ISO 27001 and FISMA, and is willing to sign a HIPAA BAA with all customers. Microsoft also offers robust contractual data privacy and security commitments by default, to help customers comply with local regulations. The Online Services Terms is a single contract document that includes the EU Model Clauses, UK Data Protection Act, and many other provisions, and applies as soon as customers accept the Microsoft license agreement.

In addition to Office 365’s built-in security features and privacy by design, customers also benefit from fine-grained controls that enable them to tailor the service to meet their specific security and compliance needs. For example, administrators or help desk staff can be given access to a subset of administrative settings appropriate to their role.

“Intellectual property is one of Aston Martin’s most valuable assets, and we trust Microsoft technologies to keep it safe. We are very comfortable that Microsoft will be able to maintain a secure service.” Daniel Roach-Rooke, IT Infrastructure Mgr., Aston Martin

With Google Apps for Work, customers have to use add-ons such as Google Vault or third-party services to achieve comprehensive security capabilities. These services can result in additional cost and varied licensing terms as well as service level agreements that complicate administration.

  • Compliance risk
  • Add-on costs for Google Vault
  • Third-party services for encryption and compliance capabilities


Fully Integrated Productivity Suite

Microsoft Office is the de facto standard for helping people be more productive at work, school, and home, with more than one billion people using it to deliver their best work and most innovative ideas. When transitioning to Office 365, customers find a familiar user experience, commercial grade IT tools, and advanced communication and collaboration capabilities. Office 365 users continue to stay productive while gaining access to enhanced services that help increase their productivity.

“It was easy to integrate Office 365 into our existing work environment and for our workers to start using it right away, because they already know the tools.” Ole Damsgaard, Senior Director, Bang & Olufsen

Customers can use Microsoft Office 365 virtually anywhere, on all of their devices, across any platform and on any browser, with applications that are optimized for their devices. Documents saved on OneDrive for Business can be accessed from PCs, iPads, or mobile devices using the Microsoft Office client or Office Online. If the document is shared with others, users can simultaneously collaborate on the document and all of their changes are automatically saved.

“One organization we work with had provided extensive training when they switched to Google Apps, but even months later they found that 70 percent of their help desk calls were people needing help performing a task in Google.” Chris Hertz, CEO, New Signature

Contrasted with the straightforward transition to Office 365, a move to Google Apps for Work requires organizations to train employees on a new approach for email and documents. Organizations that have switched to Office 365 from Google say that not being able to use Outlook to its fullest ability was something they missed while they were on Google.

  • Re-training and loss of productivity
  • Limited offline editing capability
  • Risk of data loss


Google still offers only limited offline capabilities for editing documents, despite repeated efforts to improve. What’s more, Microsoft Office customers have encountered document formatting issues when collaborating with Google Docs users.

Flexibility to have a cloud and server option

Many organizations that are evaluating next-generation productivity solutions want to transition to the cloud in a deliberate manner. They have business needs that require time to transition, want to keep some users or data on-premises, or need to manage the timing of the CapEx investment in their existing IT infrastructure. Microsoft offers the choice and flexibility of a seamless hybrid solution, allowing customers to move some users to the cloud while keeping others on-premises.

“During the migration we were able to connect our on-premises users with the users who were migrating to Office 365. For the first time, as one Red Cross, we had real-time presence awareness, free/busy calendaring, collaboration on documents, and one email system.” DeWayne Bell, VP IT Operations and Engineering, American Red Cross

With Google, customers lose that choice. Google Apps for Work does not offer organizations the option to keep some users or data on-premises. Theirs is a one-size-fits-all approach.

Get more from your IT

Instead of building and maintaining infrastructure, organizations of all sizes are moving to the cloud to take advantage of state-of-the-art data centers with built-in security, privacy, and compliance features. This move enables IT departments to focus less on infrastructure and more on strategic activities for their business.

”I started using Google because I wanted an easy ride, but I wound up spending 5 to 10 hours a week helping my team change user settings or download attachments. It [Office 365] has freed up my time so I can focus on building my business.” Myles Kaye, Director, Atominx

Although organizations have traditionally allocated significant time and cost investments to support deployment of desktop software upgrades, the revolutionary Click-to-Run streaming and virtualization technology enables organizations to get their users up and running with Office 365 ProPlus in a matter of minutes, saving a significant amount of time that IT can then devote to strategic activities to help grow the business.

“We are projecting about a $1 million savings per year by transitioning to the cloud.” Rance Clouser, VP Support Services and Communication, Advocate Health Care

With Office 365, organizations get a financially backed service level agreement (SLA) with a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. The quarterly worldwide uptime for Office 365 is published on Office 365 Trust Center.

Office 365 for Business plans offer 24/7 technical support for enterprise IT, and the Office 365 service health dashboard offers IT administrators access to detailed service information that is specific to their organization. On the other hand, Google uses a call-back support model. Customers file a report, which is then used to determine the severity of the problem and assign a call-back priority. The Google apps status dashboard combines all business and consumer users, therefore organizations do not always know which issues they need to address.

Google claims to be 100 percent web-based but, in reality, Google Apps customers must make server and client deployments to fully utilize the solution. For example, customers must install and update the Chrome browser, Google Talk, and several Windows dynamic link libraries to get a complete experience. Also, when an organization opts for third-party services to supplement capabilities in Google Apps for Work, the total cost of ownership significantly increases. The complexity of integration along with the requirements for support, updates, and licensing management, significantly increase the burden on IT.

Save time and money

Although increasing IT efficiency by moving to Office 365 can generate substantial savings, shrinking the

  • Limited info on service availability
  • Technical complexity around integration
  • Increased cost of third-party services


expense of IT is only a part of the picture. Many companies have found that Office 365 can also improve business productivity through new capabilities. One of the largest budget impacts occurs through replacing travel with web conferencing. Lync Online provides the communications capabilities to support everything from quick chats to large video conferences. For example, Decision Resources Group expects to save up to $60,000 per year on WebEx licenses after switching to Lync Online for communications

“Before Office 365, I wasted 30 percent of my time managing Google Apps and the problems that it generated. Now, I can focus on developing new products that increase the company’s revenue.” Bogdan Kochesch, Business Manager, Educativa

Many Google Apps for Work customers rely on third-party applications to achieve enterprise-class capabilities that are included with Office 365. After adding applications such as MyOneLogin for single sign-on, CloudLock for Data Loss Prevention, etc., these customers can find that the cost they are paying for cloud services far exceeds the cost of Office 365.

“By using Office 365, we have access to capabilities that would typically be reserved for very large organizations. That’s a huge advantage for us.” Lance Criscuolo, President, Zyvex Technologies

  • Loss of end user productivity
  • Cost of third-party applications
  • Complexity and expense



Customers who have used both Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365 are the best source to understand the differences in the two services, and how they helped or hindered their business transformation to the cloud.

Office 365 provides the enterprise-class service and capabilities that commercial grade businesses need. Microsoft is delivering the value it promises to customers when they purchase Office 365, through a complete business-productivity solution that enables them to reach new levels of communication and collaboration. Office 365 offers organizations a first-class hybrid solution for helping them transition to the cloud, and gives them capabilities to help meet compliance requirements for their business while ensuring commercial grade security and privacy.

© 2014 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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