Microsoft's Latest Anti-Google Strategy: Training Partners To Sniff Out Unhappy Google Apps Customers


Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus IT, a Microsoft partner based in Hadley, Mass., said the campaign is "interesting" because Microsoft partners won't have to develop competitive talking points against Google on their own.

Bean told CRN he won't be using the campaign, though, because Paragus IT has stopped using Microsoft SkyDrive, the cloud storage service soon to be re-christened as OneDrive, because its performance wasn’t up to snuff. Instead, Paragus IT is using cloud storage from Soonr, a Campbell, Calif.-based vendor.

"I would suspect that Microsoft's canned marketing materials wouldn’t apply to our custom approach of substituting SkyDrive with another paid product," Bean told CRN.

Chris Hertz, CEO, New Signature, a Washington, D.C.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN he hasn't had many opportunities lately to put Microsoft's competitive advice to the test. Instead, Hertz has been seeing an uptick in companies that went Google Apps a couple of years ago approaching New Signature about migrating back to Office 365.

"In the last six months, I've seen a shift in the market where most customers don't seem to be considering Google as a legitimate option," Hertz said.

While the threat Google Apps poses to Microsoft's enterprise business is still largely theoretical, it's been attracting more mainstream interest lately.

Earlier this week, CDW said it would start selling Google Apps For Business and providing migration services for the cloud software suite. The deal was likely in the works before Microsoft's Office 365 incentive cuts came to light in early January, and CDW says the Google partnership won't impact its other vendor partnerships. But when one of Microsoft's largest partners starts selling Google Apps, that's a significant development with lots of potential ramifications.

Some partners have told CRN the Office 365 incentive cuts would motivate them to focus more on selling Google Apps than Office 365. In a recent survey of solution providers by CRN's Channel Intelligence Council, 34 percent said they're planning to add Google Apps For Business to their product portfolio, and 70 percent said they're going to be recommending Google's cloud apps more than in the past.

Microsoft claims Office 365 is its fastest-growing product ever, and that the number of partners selling Office 365 has doubled in the past year. That said, Google has an opportunity here to capitalize on the frustration in the Microsoft channel, which stems from incentive cuts and other issues.

If Google succeeds on this front, we might see Microsoft stepping up the competitive rhetoric it provides to partners.

PUBLISHED FEB. 13, 2014