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Weekend Special: If Google Apps and Office 365 were cars

August 5, 2011

Sometimes we all do struggle to put this whole cloud computing into context and there is uncertainty about who claims what feature to be better. A little analogy might be useful to get a better understanding. So I am comparing the GAP (for Google Apps) and the O365 (for Office 365) like in a classic car review.

The categories are:

Price and Extras; Flexibility Part 1; Flexibility Part 2; Warranty and Support; Verdict

Why cars review? It does fit, doesn’t it? Like a car, email is what we use every day at work and in private life. It is about collaborating with others in traffic but also within the car. Not much different from a collaboration service.

One small hint for all the readers. Please read with a smile. This is not intended as a feature by feature comparison. You should always try for yourself before you by a car … err a collaboration service. This is based on an enterprise and not a consumer point of view. But enough of this let’s get started.

Price and Extras (both cars available for rent only)

Doesn’t it sound great, one very cheap price and it is all the same for everybody? The GAP is a car that is focused really on what is needed – Driving.  And to get from A to B all we need are four wheels and that is all what we get guaranteed. Surely there are options beyond this but they are not part of the contract and you never know whether you get anything beyond the basic capability. The GAP team has great ideas and shows fantastic things at car fares but all you can buy with a real contract are the one size, one flavor fits all cars. Independently of your requirements as e.g. a soccer mum with needs to transport 5 kids or a small entrepreneur selling wine needing to transport boxes of wine or a car enthusiast in for a luxury treat there is no real choice.

The O365 follows a different approach. It offers you extras based on your needs. You can tailor the car in a way that you get the full functionality for the best price if you pick the so-called “deskless car” or a fully equipped car at a reasonable higher price point. Ok there is a downside, the price list is somewhat longer and it forces you to think about what you really need but on the other hand all the extras you pick are part of the contract and you have certainty you’ll get them and you keep them. The O365 might be in for less flashy innovation show time action but it is based on the world-class O2010 the luxury car of the past, the present and the future. This O2010 by the way is the car you can buy compared to O365 and GAP which can only be rented.

Flexibility Part 1

The marketing team for the GAP calls it the most flexible car in the world but let’s have a look whether that is true. It runs on the most distributed fuel the so-called “Browser” and therefore can run on almost any road, as long as it is a road and connected to the road network. So it is fair to say it is pretty flexible. The missing pieces are quite important though. What about using a back road kind of thing where you are disconnected from the real road network? Doesn’t happen is what the GAP maker claims. But ever brought your daughter to riding classes? Horse farms usually are not in the city center. Or ever wanted to work while in the Eurotunnel without a steady road network? These options are not there.

The O365 runs likewise on all the roads and uses the so-called “Browser” fuel. But in addition you can also order an engine that runs with native “Windows” and “Mac” fuel types. This is not only another engine but also enables you to travel on roads unconnected and therefore gives you the full flexibility.

Oh, not to forget one general downside of the “Browser” fuel that limits both cars. While running on “browser”, the cheaper fuel compared to “Windows” and “Mac” you have limited power and features. So only O365 offering additional fuel types gives you the flexibility to use the full feature set if you need it and you can easily choose it by changing your fuel. There is no lock in to “Browser” only fuel engines.

Flexibility Part 2

So now think about a company having a fleet of cars. There is the possibility to cut down cost if you go down for one size fits all. This is a route that is open to you if you choose either car the GAP or the O365. But in reality you need a little bit more flexibility to cater the needs of your board, your management, the travelling sales men and the office workers. No doubt your board members would be a good group to get the GAP as their focus is on being driven rather driving. But would they enjoy driving the GAP personally on weekends or does the GAP represent their status? And do not underestimate the importance of things like this when it comes to cars. So there is the first group in need of something special and as you go through analyzing your fleet you soon recognize that there is a need for other types of transportation as well. Some of your research people use sophisticated security cars to have their heads (data) protected. While these run on “Windows” and “Mac” on private roads they would not work on “Browser” on the public road network. Also some of your workers do need extras in the cars beyond get from A to B and only with O365 these are available in a reliable way. So beyond the flexibility in the car the flexibility of the car use scheme for enterprises has a huge impact on which way to choose.

Warranty and Support

Your car is important to you. It is your major means of transportation. You need it running 24/7. This both cars claim and duration tests show that the GAP and the BPOS (the older version of the O365) are quite close when it comes to running times statistically. We expect the O365 to pick up where the BPOS left. One thing though is that we get letters from our readers now and then complaining about the reliability of the GAP. Single cases sure but the interesting pattern here is the way the GAP maker supports these car owners. You could post a message up in the internet (you know, this computer communication thing) and hope to get a reply. There is no way to call them up.

The O365 has a dial-up option as well as a premium service offering upgrading the car to personal car service manager. Also you can bring you O365 in to a number of partner workshops for support and tuning. So that makes a difference to a car.

In case your car fails you want a warranty and your costs covered. The GAP warranty only covers the drive train and excludes secondary components. Why is that? Remember only the drive train is what you can really buy and nail down contractually. The other pieces are there or are not. The warranty itself will not pay you money but offer you a weekend in another GAP at free cost.

The O365 has a full coverage warranty that is backed up by financial agreements.

Speaking of warranties we need to speak about road worthiness in a sense of legal requirements. Let’s look at the most famous car market in the world – the German market. Here you need to fulfill a row of regulations before you get your car on the road and you need to have it evaluated on a regular base. While O365 comes with full package of papers, namely a data processing agreement and the European document on model clauses, there is not much information on the set of documentation delivered with the GAP. Surely it runs in the U.S.A. but we know all about American cars, don’t we? So there seems to be a gap with GAP.


The GAP is a great concept. And I know that there is a bunch of GAP lovers out there like there have been people wanting to get a Trabant. But let’s face it, we as car aficionados, decision makers for fleets or simply people wanting to have choice probably will pick the O365. If not for all cases maybe we just pick it for the weekdays and drive a O2010 the ultimate road car on the weekends.


Authors Note:

Yes,the GAP car does not look to good up there and I know that by now some SLA’s have been extended to other features beyond just Google mail. This was written for the fun of it and I do believe that apart from small slips which the GAP enthusiasts will happily point out it is based on real differences between the offerings. Hope you enjoy it

  1. xmlfreak permalink

    Well Cloud evangelist I think you have “put this nicely”, always’ great to see people use metafores like cars. I have read it with a smile, thnx for blogging about Cloud with regards to O365 which is my favorit 😉

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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