A major university has decided to migrate to Google Apps for Education as its cloud-based email and calendar provider. The decision by the University of California at Berkeley represents a substantial victory for Google's cloud-based platform in its ongoing effort to catch Microsoft Office 365.
Google contends that its approach was built entirely with the cloud in mind, while Microsoft has expanded and optimized its widely-used local apps to the cloud. In an attempt apparently to garner greater market share, Google offers its solution to educational institutions for free, although the University said it looked at other factors besides price.
The entire campus community, including students, faculty, and staff, will migrate to Google Apps next year. The current CalMail system, which recently suffered an outage, and CalAgenda will remain in effect until the transition is completed.
Microsoft software will still be used on campus, as local installations under a site license agreement.
With regard to its comparison of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps, the University said in a statement that both products are feature rich and offer advantages over the current environment. However, the analysis concluded that the Google offering would be a better overall fit for the campus at this time.
In the category of Speed of Migration and Deployment, for instance, the evaluation gave the advantage to Google. One of the stated advantages in this factor was that, with a "multiple Google Apps instances" model, they could allow for large subdomains to independently plan and execute their own migrations.
Support of Migration and Deployment also went to Google, at least in part because of support the University hopes to receive from peer institutions, including UC Santa Cruz and the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. The University pointed out that the University of Nebraska has not yet completed its migration to Microsoft Office 365, although the process began during the summer.
Not All Thumbs Up for Google
While the Berkeley decision represents a win for Google, actual implementation represents the next hurdle. In fact, Google Apps has had a number of failed migrations. Last week, the City of Los Angeles announced that its police department was abandoning plans to migrate to the 'Google Apps for Government' cloud platform because of FBI security concerns. Reports indicate the L.A. Police Department will remain indefinitely on Novell GroupWise apps, although other city departments will use the Google platform.
On the plus side, Google won the Ease of Tools Development in the UC Berkeley comparison, as well as migration of Mailman migration lists, and Administration.
Google also won the comparison for Integration with Collaboration Tools, although Berkeley noted that both Google and Microsoft offer "a more integrated collaborative environment than what currently exists on campus."
Advantage Microsoft Office 365
The University analysis gave points to Microsoft for its high-level of integration between the Office 365 components, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online.
While integration between Office 365 and third-party apps was available through PowerShell and Exchange Web Services APIs, the University noted that it does not widely support those technologies.
Microsoft scored higher than Google Apps on Authentication, in part because Google does not allow all passwords and authentication information to be kept on-site.
Microsoft also won On-Premise Integration with email or calendar software, which Google Apps does not offer.
In User Familiarity, Google took the win for Overall, for Current Google Users, and for Users with Multiple Berkeley Accounts, while Microsoft won for current Outlook and Exchange Users. Mobile Integration was determined to be a draw.
As the next step, the University is hoping to make its move from CalMail to Gmail within six to ten weeks.