#UK POPSugar ditched Microsoft Office for Google Apps, saved $110,000 a year and says any company can leave Microsoft (MSFT, GOOGL)


Bjorn Pave POPSugar

Although it looks like Microsoft Office 365 has been sprinting ahead of Google Apps these days, Google has been slowly creating an army of converts.

These are companies that ditched Microsoft Office and/or Office 365 for Google’s Apps for Work.

Business Insider spoke to one such director of IT, POPSugar’s Bjorn Pave who moved the company’s nearly 500 employees to Google Apps for Work in late 2013.

Pave took the job as POPSugar’s director of IT in early 2013, after a long career managing Microsoft software, including Office, Outlook and Exchange, for various other companies. 

When he arrived, POPSugar, which operates a network of news and entertainment websites, had been using a combination of old-fashioned installed Microsoft Office software, and the Office 365 cloud for email. 

Going Rogue

But the company’s LA production team had gone rogue and signed up for Google Apps. They needed real-time documents to help them manage their film shoots and other schedules. With Google Apps, multiple people could be in the same document at the same time and changes would show up on everyone’s phones as they were typed. No syncing, no attachments, no delays.

POPSugar’s cofounder husband and wife team (CEO Brian Sugar, editor and chief Lisa Sugar) wanted the whole company to switch to Google.

But Pave knew that canceling that Microsoft contract early would be “very costly,” in fines, he told us. So before he switched, the IT department did a shoot-out with Office 365 and Google Apps f0r Work. 

Google won. 

“We ran a test environment side-by-side,” he said and concluded Apps was “moving in the right direction.”

And it turned out, POPSugar could save some serious cash by switching, too.

The company had been paying Microsoft roughly $100,000 a year under an annual enterprise volume software license which, Pave says, included stuff the company neither wanted nor needed.

In comparison, Google Apps for Work is costing POPSugar about $30,000 a year. And there were other savings. For instance, employees could use Google Hangouts instead of a conference call line. 

All told, Apps for Work is saving POPSugar $110,000 a year over Microsoft Office, he says.

All told, Apps for Work is saving POPSugar $110,000 a year over Microsoft Office, he says.

Excel loyalists

The one department that wasn’t happy was the finance folks, who wanted Microsoft Excel. So POPSugar kept a few updated Office licenses for those folks.

“Our finance team stayed on Excel, and to this day still are on Excel on PCs. The entire company is a Mac shop over here, so it feels like the finance group is in a state of arrested development of some kind,” he jokes.

In the meantime, Microsoft would say that Office 365 sales are doing very well, and there’s quite a bit of evidence to support that.

POPSugar doesn’t run its own data center and keeps all of its data and apps in Amazon’s cloud, with no plans to use Microsoft’s cloud.

But it hasn’t shrugged off its relationship with Microsoft altogether, yet, he says.

He’s still using software known as Microsoft Active Directory, which tracks and assigns WiFi passwords and other IT resources to PCs, Macs and employees. He says he’s looking at alternatives to replace that, too.

It’s now been about a year and half since POPSugar made the switch and everyone is happy. The Macs still have the older paid-for copies of Office loaded on their PCs.

“But Office doesn’t get any use. You know how I know? It used to be that everyone clamored when latest version of Office came out, especially for Macs. But I haven’t gotten one request for the newer version,” he says.

The upshot is, companies simply don’t need to use Microsoft anymore if they don’t want to, he believes.

“It’s completely plausible to leave that Microsoft environment,” he says.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft Office 365 has sprinted ahead of Google Apps for Work — here’s why

SEE ALSO: 50 enterprise startups to bet your career on in 2016

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