Perhaps accurate metrics on the extent of cloud adoption are not important

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthA lot has been made over the last few weeks about a skew between Microsoft’s announcements about sales of cloud SaaS and PaaS subscriptions to enterprise business and the extent to which these subscriptions are actually used. For any readers unfamiliar with the current chatter about Microsoft on this topic, an article titled Microsoft’s Cloud Successes Based on Sales Not Usage? may provide a quick introduction to this tract of opinion.

But what if the question of adoption really does not matter? What if the more important metric, at least at present, meaning March 2015, are the actual statistics of big businesses signing onto Office 365 and/or Azure? After all, to what extent are businesses using all of the components in the Google Apps for Business set? I would argue not much.

In fact it may simply be too soon to expect high levels of enterprise business adoption of cloud computing services. If nothing else stands in the way, simply consider the current noise about the insecurity of data communications via public cloud options. Surely most readers will attest to a deafening volume, with some new, prominent business or US government agency pushed into the limelight almost on a daily basis. Why would 28K people at Merck (simply to name one very large organization) drop their other computing options to embrace Office in the cloud given the potential risks?

But according to what most readers will likely take to be a combination of a testimonial, and a customer success story, Merck has, nevertheless, purchased Office 365 and is using it. The Office blog on March 5, 2015 featured an article titled A new foundation for connected business processes at a German pharmaceutical and chemical company. This article is attributed to Dr. Matthias Geselle, who is introduced as “a Vice President, member of the IT leadership team at Merck.” The content describes a collaboration solution, named “Connect 15”, which is built on Microsoft components. “Connect 15” replaced a combination of Lotus Notes, “IBM Sametime”, and WebEx.

The Office blog includes a number of these articles. Perhaps some of the more vocal naysayers in this public discussion would benefit from reading them. Every one of the articles is written by a representative of the customer, meaning the enterprise business opting to purchase Microsoft’s cloud services. It is hard to argue with this type of testimonial.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved


An unfortunate success story for anyone keen on Office 365

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthOn December 30, 2014, the Business Insider website published an article written by Julie Bort, titled Why An Ex-Microsoft Exec Chose Google Apps Over Microsoft’s Office 365 For His Startup. Bort’s article follows the form of a success story, much like the success stories Microsoft publishes on its web sites. But the success story presented by Bort’s article actually tells the story of the conversion of a once prominent executive at Microsoft, and his new business, over to the ranks of subscribers to Google Apps. Even worse, Rahul Sood (the former Microsoft manager of Microsoft Ventures) explains how his team considered subscribing to Office 365, before finalizing their decision, but decided to pass.

One wonders why Microsoft’s own PR effort hasn’t produced more of these articles: in other words, success stories written by writers not directly affiliated with Microsoft, and published on independent websites. As I just noted, Microsoft’s own websites present an extensive set of this content. But somehow the impact of an article like Bort’s is greater, especially given its title. As to the actual detail she presents, arguably, basing a decision on the email component of a suite of Office applications like Office 365 (or Google Apps) is not likely to be appealing to cloud, SaaS stakeholders from any organizations looking to move beyond email, and into one of the more collaborative and informative methods of exchanging data included with Office 365; for example, Yammer newsfeeds, or SharePoint Online Document Libraries and Lists.

But the detail doesn’t matter when the title, itself, amounts to news potentially embarrassing to Microsoft. There is no way to ensure once prominent Microsoft executives like Rahul Sood will continue to choose Microsoft’s own solutions. But there should be no impediment to the PR team at Microsoft looking for the same type of content (meaning ex-executives at Microsoft competitors opting for Microsoft solutions) to balance the public perception of just who is using Office 365.

The kind of content tracking capability implicit to Office 365’s Managed Metadata Service may not be important to a gaming startup like Sood’s. But any startup in a heavily regulated industry will likely pass on GMail as a principal method of exchanging data, anytime, and choose, instead SharePoint Online Document Libraries and Lists, if compliance reporting is a requirement for the business.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved