Google's tempting apps migration offer: The fine print

Google is offering the chance to save up to 70 percent by switching to docs. Here are the pros and cons of the offer.
Written by Chris Kanaracus, Contributor

Google has unveiled a tempting-sounding offer aimed at convincing customers to switch to its Docs productivity tools, as competition heightens in the space from the likes of Microsoft Office 365 and IBM SmartCloud. Here's the gist, from the official blog post announcing the deal:

We're so confident that Docs has all the features you need, without the ones you don't, that we're making it even easier to give it a try. If you're worried about switching to Docs because you still have an enterprise agreement (EA) with another provider, we'll cover the fees of Google Apps until your contract runs out. We'll even chip in on some of the deployment costs and set you up for success with one of our Google for Work Partners.

Google will give customers a "simple contract with no traps or gotchas" once their existing EA runs out, and it will be possible to save up to 70 percent by switching to Docs, according to the post.

This all sounds pretty good on the surface, but there are pluses and minuses for customers to consider, says Constellation Research analyst Alan Lepofsky.

On the plus side: "There can be several challenges when switching from one vendor to another, including technical, cultural, political and financial," he says. "This program from Google helps to reduce the financial and technical ones."

The downside: "You'll be running in a mixed environment until a final decision is made," Lepofsky says. "When a customer has to cutover quickly to avoid costs, it could be easier on the users. With the ability to run both until the end of your existing EA, the mixed environment could be around longer."

There are also some significant terms and conditions not mentioned in the blog post, but which are included in Google's own enterprise agreement for the migration offer.

For one thing, customers must commit to using Google Docs at standard terms and conditions for a year following the end of their existing EA.

"So for current IBM or Microsoft customers evaluating a move to Google, if they use the time until end of their EA to evaluate both, but then stick to renewing with their current vendor, they will be stuck double paying for 12 months to Google," Lepofsky notes.

In addition, the credit offer is good for only up to 3,000 user licenses per customer. One might quibble with the idea of that user count equating an enterprise-sized deployment. Standard monthly fees "will be applicable for any additional user licenses during the Remainder EA Term which will be prorated to the end of such term, and for the one year period following the Remainder EA Term," according to the agreement.

The Bottom Line

As for Google itself, there is little risk in making this sort of offer, Lepofsky says: "I don't see any short term negatives for Google, as it won't lose them customers. If it gains them anything greater than one, it would seem like a win."

However, "I can see competitors dropping pricing, or offering similar deals, thus making this program less relevant," he adds.

Finally, while costs and licensing are only two of the decision points used in vendor selection, "based on today's announcement, customers could use Google's new offer as a leverage point to reduce the costs associated in renewing their existing contracts," Lepofsky says.


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