Google Cloud VARs Unfazed By Microsoft Office 365

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Google Apps cloud resellers aren't scared of Microsoft Office 365. If anything, they're excited about it.

Microsoft last week officially launched Microsoft Office 365, its cloud computing suite that bundles Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online, and that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said is "where Office meets the cloud." Microsoft's largest competitor for Office 365 is Google's cloud suite, Google Apps.

"I don't think any of us are nervous," said Michael Cohn, co-founder and vice president of marketing for Atlanta-based Google reseller Cloud Sherpas. "We're actually glad it's finally here."

According to Cohn, the launch of Office 365 validates what Google has been doing in the cloud for years with Google Apps. Cohn added that "competition is what makes markets."

In less than two years since launching its Google Apps Reseller Program, Google has amassed a cadre of more than 3,000 Google Apps resellers that bring their clients into the cloud. Microsoft is hopeful that the launch of Office 365 will displace Google Apps in some companies. But Google Apps resellers see it having the opposite result.

Cohn said since Ballmer and Co. unveiled Microsoft Office 365 last week, the number of calls Cloud Sherpas has received regarding Google Apps have increased.

Same goes for Los Angeles-based Google reseller ViWo Inc. Crisantos Hajibrahim, head of business development for ViWo, said ViWo's calls have increased as well. Even with Office 365 hitting the market, there will still be a sect of customers that say "I'm tired of Microsoft. I love Google," Hajibrahim said, adding "We have not lost one customer to Microsoft."

Tom Cooper, principal and founder of Salvair, a Columbus, Ohio-based Google reseller, said it's no surprise that Microsoft joined the growing cloud market with Office 365, looking to deepen its cloud computing offerings and better compete with Google.

"Microsoft jumping into the fold has always been a given," Cooper said. "You're going to see people jump on the early bandwagon."

But Cooper said looking under the covers, Office 365 lacks many of the attributes that make Google Apps a cloud solution. Cooper said Office 365 will be version-based and Google Apps just has a single release, meaning users have to pay more for more features with Microsoft Office 365 and a single price gets users all of Google Apps functionality. Microsoft Office 365 also lacks the true multi-tenancy that Google Apps possesses.

Cloud Sherpas' Cohn agreed. He said Microsoft is still attempting to tie users to the desktop and has not make the software work universally across devices, meaning Microsoft Office 365 won't yet work on tablets and certain mobile devices, while Google Apps offers universal access across mobile and desktop browsers.

"Microsoft is still trying to tether people to their desktop software," Cohn said. "It's not a true cloud solution. It's definitely a hybrid."

NEXT: Google Resellers Question Office 365 Pricing

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