G Suite or Microsoft Office 365?

By Joshua Osborne

Director of Client Services – Microsoft, NPI

March 10, 2020

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G Suite or Microsoft Office 365? For some enterprises, the answer is easy. For others, however – particularly those eager to rein in Microsoft spend or invest early in Google’s advanced AI capabilities – the answer requires deeper digging.

Microsoft’s O365 is certainly the dominant player when it comes to enterprise end-user cloud computing. But that doesn’t mean G Suite is out of the picture for enterprise customers. There is still a lot of competition in the SaaS and PaaS markets, both of which Google and Microsoft play very well in. But, apples to apples, how do they compare? And how can customers leverage both players in their SaaS and/or PaaS negotiations?

Let’s start with the first question. The most obvious difference (and a frequent deal-breaker) is that G Suite is a cloud-only based productivity solution whereas Office 365 can be both cloud and on-premise. Assuming that’s not an issue, the offerings most closely aligned in features are G Suite Business and O365 Business or Business Premium (which are largely cloud-only). List pricing is also very comparable between both.

A case could also be made that O365 E1 is also comparable to G Suite Business or Business Premium. When you dive into the features a bit further, you will find that O365 E1 does still have components that can be used on-premise, such as Exchange and SharePoint. However, you will need to have existing licensing for servers and potentially other licensing to allow for this. Each case will be unique and should be carefully evaluated. O365 E1 may also be slightly cheaper, depending on the licensing vehicle(s) available for each client.

Anything above G Suite Business or Business Premium becomes more custom via adding additional components that are mostly likely going to be third party solutions. Even then, the integration and UI will not be as seamless as they are under the standard G Suite offerings. This is where Microsoft has a very clear advantage and their investments shine.  Above E1, there is O365 E3 and E5. Additionally, Microsoft has standard suites for Windows and EMS (Enterprise Mobility Suite) where they bundle multiple additional items, largely centered on advanced enterprise class security. You also have the option to buy these line items a la carte or bundle them together via a more comprehensive solution suite called M365 or Microsoft 365.

When it comes to truly enterprise-class features and security, Microsoft remains the clear winner. While Google is making a valiant effort to appeal to the enterprise market, the vendor’s offerings still have a way to go. But that doesn’t mean customers can’t leverage the “other” vendor during negotiations.

Tips for Negotiating with Google and Microsoft During Your Next Cloud Purchase

It’s imperative to formulate a technology roadmap and negotiation strategy before engaging with Google or Microsoft – but particularly Microsoft. Microsoft salespeople are well trained to understand and listen to client comments, goals and problems. If at any point it becomes clear that Microsoft is the only provider that has the solution to your problem, then it can quickly become a one-horse race. Maintaining a competitive landscape, even if purely for negotiation leverage and strategy, is essential to keeping Microsoft on their toes and willing to further incentivize its offerings.

From a PaaS perspective, Google and Azure have many, many more similarities and are therefore more competitive. Microsoft knows this and uses tactics like multi-year commitments to lock you in.  Microsoft tries to heavily incentivize customers to make a pre-determined commitment of money in Azure over a period of time. This makes switching or moving to Google or even AWS almost impossible as the customer has already committed funding to Azure.

Establishing a detailed technical strategy and negotiation strategy before commencing negotiations is absolutely key to achieving the optimal basket of goods at the optimal price and business terms. The technical strategy requires scenario modeling to quantify the cost of viable scenarios and step through the pros and cons of each – an exercise which will result in selection of the most desired outcome. Once the basket of goods is defined, it’s important to align the buying team so everyone follows the negotiation strategy. This combination of activities is a proven set of best practices for these strategic, high-spend IT purchases.