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Microsoft to CIOs: Before You Go Google, Ask Questions

The mounting pressure to move IT resources to the cloud has added a layer of complexity to the already complex job of a CIO.

To address tricky cloud migrations, Microsoft posted a blog listing five key themes that the company is hearing from IT leaders considering moving parts of their business to a cloud platform. Two standout themes are the desire for a long-term commitment from a cloud provider and assurance of security and privacy.

Yet another theme on the minds of CIOs, according to blog writer Ron Markezich, corporate VP of Microsoft Online, is defining what a cloud vendor should be: a service provider or a business partner?

Businesses overwhelmingly want a partner with a proven enterprise track record who can lay out a long-term roadmap, writes Markezich. In a separate post this week, Markezich goes a step further by calling out Microsoft cloud rival Google as an enterprise wannabe with commitment issues.

Microsoft is clearly feeling Google's footsteps. Last fall the search giant announced that it has 3 million Google Apps business customers.

Microsoft's latest blog post wants to remind IT buyers that it is "all in" for the cloud and has decades more enterprise acumen than that feisty Internet search company named Google.

Microsoft's apprehension is understandable. The software giant has been winning cloud deals with government agencies and enterprises to use its BPOS suite of cloud services for e-mail, collaboration and productivity apps (now called Office 365). But in December, Google beat out Microsoft for a whopper contract with the GSA for $6.7 million over five years to migrate 17,000 government employees off different versions of IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino software to Google Apps.

Additionally, Google has landed contracts with state government agencies such as the state of Wyoming and in November Google filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, claiming that the DOI's bidding process for a contract worth $49.3 million over five years unfairly benefited Microsoft.

So needless to say, there's a cloud war underway between these tech giants and Google is winning a surprising amount of government deals. Can enterprises be far behind?

Markezich's blog post deliberately targets Google as he lists five questions CIOs should ask when negotiating with Google on its cloud services.

Do you have a proven track record?

"Microsoft believes the best approach is to help organizations move to the cloud on their terms, not ours. Our track record in helping enterprise customers achieve their goals speaks for itself. Does Google's?"

How much will it cost to get my people productive?

"Why do businesses resist fully deploying Google Apps? Because it means retraining users who are used to Microsoft Office, accepting limited interoperability with other line of business applications, and dealing with Google's limited features is expensive."

What are your privacy policies?

"Do a careful review of the privacy policy; will you always know where your data is? Microsoft designs its solutions from the ground up for security and privacy and they are backed by two decades of meeting enterprise needs."

What is your long term roadmap?

"Google and others often surprise their customers by unexpectedly removing important features - or adding new ones - which increases both headaches and cost. We understand you operate a business, not a lab for our latest experiment."

Can you support all of my people with what they need?

"Not everyone in a business sits in Silicon Valley campuses with high-speed Internet and not all of them even need a dedicated computer. What they do need is access to your businesses resources. Microsoft provides a variety of options for the different roles people play in your business."

Click here for the full Microsoft blog post.

Shane O'Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Shane at soneill@idgenterprise.com

Read more about cloud computing in CIO's Cloud Computing Drilldown.

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