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Cloud Migration Guide: Migrating from G Suite to Office 365

Cloud Migration Guide: Migrating from G Suite to Office 365

 organizations may choose one public server provider over another when comparing Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365

In the last two posts on cloud migration, we have talked at some length about migrations from on-premise environments to public cloud environments. First, we discussed the scenario of migrating from on-premise to the Google G Suite public cloud, why organizations choose G Suite, and some of the challenges that are encountered with this move. Next, we looked at the similar scenario involving migrating from on-premise environments to Microsoft Office 365. As shown, both migrations will offer challenges to organizations who are familiar with managing and configuring traditional infrastructure.

Depending upon the business needs and particular use case and services needed, organizations may choose one public server provider over another when comparing Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. However, what about organizations who may have initially chosen to migrate from on-premise to Google’s G Suite public cloud service and who now find that their business needs more closely align with Microsoft Office 365?

Let’s examine a bit more closely the scenario of migrating between Google’s G Suite public cloud service to Microsoft Office 365. Why might organizations choose to migrate between G Suite and Office 365? What challenges might be encountered in migrating between the two public cloud providers?

Google G Suite vs Microsoft Office 365 – Features and Price

There may be many reasons that an organization decides to migrate from one public cloud provider to another. This may include acquisitions between companies where either G Suite or Office 365 is the preferred public cloud vendor and there are many incentives to standardize public cloud resource usage. Generally speaking however, it usually comes down to features and price that may sway an organization to migrate between public cloud vendors.

The “new Microsoft” as it has been referred to recently is certainly a much more powerful Microsoft that has gained tremendous momentum in the public cloud space. Office 365 continues a bullish trend of gaining new customers and is most definitely a top consideration by any organization considering a move to public cloud resources and services. What are the specific advantages seen by Microsoft Office 365 when compared to Google’s G Suite environment that may sway organizations to migrate over to Office 365

There are many areas where both services are basically on par with one another, however, there are some strengths/advantages to be considered on the side of Microsoft’s Office 365. When organizations are currently utilizing the G Suite public cloud, these advantages can also be appealing enticements for migrating from G Suite to the Office 365 public cloud. We will consider the following potential advantages that Microsoft Office 365 has when compared to Google’s G Suite.

  • Familiarity
  • File and Email Storage
  • Offline File Access Capabilities
  • Desktop Application Entitlement
  • Security and Threat Protection

Microsoft Office 365 Provides Familiar Apps

A huge advantage that Microsoft seemingly has over most of the other public cloud providers is the familiarity of their office applications. Most enterprise users in mainly Windows shops have experience with Microsoft’s Office suite of products for years. It has been the standard for SMB to Enterprise environments for office productivity applications and continues to dominate this space.

This familiarity with Microsoft Office applications can be appealing, especially for Windows centric organizations who may be leaning towards migrating to Office 365 from Google’s G Suite application suite. Microsoft has done a really good job of keeping the applications between the on-prem variant and the Office 365 cloud almost the same. Both from an end user perspective in using the Office applications on-prem and in the cloud as well as from an administrator’s perspective in administering the back-office systems, these all boast a very similar experience.

The features of the Office suite of business applications are generally the same in the cloud as the full installation on-prem. Plus, the Office 365 subscription actually entitles organizations to have the full installations of the Office products along with the web-based cloud accessible versions. We will detail more on that front below.

Generally speaking, the Office 365 business productivity apps are more feature rich when compared to the G Suite equivalents. Microsoft has spent a tremendous amount of development in this space for years, so they are certainly the leader of the pack when it comes to the office productivity applications that enterprise environments know and depend on. The G Suite applications will feel much more basic and “watered down” when compared to full blown Microsoft Office functionality. For organizations who depend on these productivity applications day to day, Office 365 may provide an appealing option for migrating from G Suite.

Office 365 File and Email Storage

These days public cloud storage is all the rage with most applications and services having hooks into the major public cloud vendors and their storage services. For organizations looking at migrating from on-prem to the public cloud, this is certainly a consideration. However, also comes up for those looking at migrating between public cloud vendors. For those organizations that are housed on Google’s G Suite public cloud, Microsoft’s Office 365 offers some pretty compelling reasons they may want to migrate from Google to Microsoft.

Comparing Office 365 Business Essentials entry-level plan to Google’s Basic plan yields some pretty surprising conclusions, comparing the two services storage options. Office 365 Business Essentials offers 1TB of storage per user, whereas Google’s G Suite Basic plan only offers 30 GB of space. Keep in mind too, Google does not separate out “cloud storage” from email storage. Your emails count towards this 30 GB limit!

The upper subscription plans with G Suite offer unlimited plans which outstretch the plans offered by Office 365, however, with the entry-level plans this is certainly an appealing pull towards the Office 365 public cloud, especially if organizations may have decided upon higher level G Suite plans simply for storage needs greater than 30 GB but less than 1 TB per user.

Offline File Access Capabilities

Both Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite offer the capability to work with files offline. However, Microsoft’s solution feels a bit more fluid and easier to implement than Google’s solution. This becomes apparent when looking at the Google approach of working offline with Google G Suite file resources.

To work with Google G Suite offline files, it basically revolves around using Google Chrome and then installing the Google Docs offline extension to be able to work with the G Suite files offline. When working offline with Google G Suite files, these are synchronized back to the cloud once connectivity is restored. Gmail requires configuring Google Chrome to work with messages offline. You configure the settings of your Gmail account to be able to work with emails offline. However, working with “offline” files on the Google platform isn’t as easy as there are no native local Google applications to work with files as there are from the Microsoft perspective which we will look at in more depth.

With Microsoft OneDrive, the integration for manipulating files offline seems more fluid than with Google’s G Suite solution revolving around the Chrome browser. You simply make sure files are synchronized with OneDrive and then work with the files using the traditional Office 365 standard desktop applications that most enterprise environments are already familiar with using. Working offline with Office 365 does not depend on a specific browser but rather on the OneDrive synchronization down to a device. Using OneDrive, you can synchronize files to a laptop and then edit files directly from OneDrive.

Microsoft has another advantage here with enterprise users in not only familiarity at the business productivity application layer, but also from an operating system perspective, the Windows operating system is running most enterprise environment. Having ownership from an operating system perspective, the integration with today’s Windows operating systems and the Microsoft public cloud is very strong. OneDrive is now baked into Windows, so it is essentially part of the operating system, making this integration tight and seamless.

The data copy between the public cloud for both services and the local devices used by end users is taken care of with synchronization mechanisms from both public cloud vendors. Google’s G Suite Drive is synchronized with local devices using Google Drive Stream. Microsoft has a couple of options including OneDrive and OneDrive Files on Demand. The difference between OneDrive and OneDrive Files on Demand is with the Files on Demand service, the files are only downloaded when they are accessed. OneDrive “classic” synchronizes all files locally with the cloud, so everything is downloaded. Google has natively went to the “streaming” equivalent to OneDrive Files on Demand and performs the download as needed functionality with their service.

Desktop Application Entitlement

As mentioned, one of the huge benefits that you get with an Office 365 subscription as a business is the ability to load Microsoft applications locally, in addition to being able to access them from the cloud. Most enterprise organizations today have what we call “fat” client installations of Microsoft applications, or in other words, locally installed instances of these applications. These include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

The desktop applications provided by Microsoft’s locally installed instances of the Office business productivity suite are powerful. Many organizations still have employees who work extensively in local on-prem environments where they are comfortable with and already use Microsoft Office applications to edit, save, and send these files between colleagues. Having the ability to have access to and freely use Microsoft applications locally will certainly be enticing to many organizations who are either contemplating an initial move to the public cloud or who may be considering migrating from their current public cloud vendor to the Microsoft Office 365 public cloud.

Google has no offering in this space as far as locally installed applications. Google’s applications such as Google Docs and Google Sheets are much more minimalist in comparison to full blown Word or Excel. For those power users who make use of Pivot Table functionality in Excel for instance, this type of functionality is not available in Google Sheets along with many other advanced spreadsheet options. The ability to download and install full copies of the Microsoft Office suite of applications is a huge advantage for Microsoft among all the other public cloud vendors and their “cloud-only” productivity application offerings. Organizations who want and need a more powerful toolset of applications will no doubt be drawn to Microsoft’s Office 365 public cloud offering along with the desktop application installation entitlement.

Security and Threat Protection

Another huge factor considered by organizations today who are either moving to the public cloud or who are already housed in whole or part in a public cloud environment is security. Since the beginning of public cloud, security of data and services has been a concern. It is safe to say that all the public cloud vendors have matured their offerings when it comes to security. When comparing public cloud vendor services, security considerations are a major point of comparison between various public cloud providers.

While Google has certainly made strides in offering additional security features such as the Google Security Center to G Suite customers, in general, the Google security offering is a bit lacking when compared to what Microsoft Office 365 customers get with their solution. Organizations who are currently housed in G Suite environments may be enticed to migrate to Microsoft’s Office 365 public cloud due to Microsoft’s seemingly stronger security offering provided to Office 365 customers.

Microsoft spends a tremendous amount of its revenue on security. This is evident with the level of security services that are baked into the Office 365 offering by default. When it comes to information protection, Office 365 provides a strong rights managements and data loss protection service that covers not only email but also sites and files across Office 365. G Suite provides rights management and data loss protection, however, it only covers Gmail and not sites or Google Docs. Microsoft’s offering is certainly more powerful with stronger rights management and data loss protection.

vIn addition, Microsoft offers a service called Advanced Threat Protection to Office 365 customers. This service provides email attachment scanning, URL scanning, malicious file blocking, spoofed email message protection, and impersonation and anti-phishing protection. Google currently has no equivalent to Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection.

Organizations looking for a stronger security posture out of the box will no doubt lean toward the Office 365 offering over G Suite. Organizations who are already housed in G Suite and are reevaluating their security stance may consider these factors when it comes to deciding to migrate to Office 365 from G Suite.

In either environment, organizations looking to bolster their security stance using an API-based CASB, machine learning equipped, total security solution, will find no better security and data protection solution for both Google and Microsoft public clouds than Spinbackup. Spinbackup provides the total security and data protection solution for either Google or Microsoft environments including the following:

There simply is no equivalent to default services offered by either Google or Microsoft in their solution that provides the same level of protection and security as offered by Spinbackup’s API-based CASB solution.

Migration Challenges

What challenges might organizations face who decide to migrate from Google G Suite to the Microsoft Office 365 public cloud? Migrating from one public cloud vendor to another public cloud vendor is no small undertaking. Many of the same challenges discussed in migrating from on-prem to the public cloud come into play when migrating between cloud providers. These include the tremendous amount of business process that may be engineered around the specific public cloud vendor an organization is currently aligned with. While similarities may exist between cloud providers, there are always vast differences under the hood in how services and features are presented to the customer.

Email systems and data storage between Google G Suite and Office 365 are certainly different and migration processes must account for the challenge of the coexistence phase where email and data may live in both public clouds, especially if a complete single cutover is not possible, which is often the case in very large environments.

Both Google and Microsoft provide tools for helping to make migrations easier, but organizations will have to learn and use two separate sets of tooling, directory synchronization methodologies and tooling, as well as processes and procedures to carry out the migration. All in all it is not a process to be carried out without tremendous preparation, testing, and planning.

Concluding Thoughts

Many organizations today have already made the leap to the public cloud. However, as services and offerings from the major public cloud vendors are updated, changed, or deprecated, organizations may have the need to reevaluate the public cloud environment where their data and business services are housed. While Google’s G Suite public cloud provides a powerful and robust offering that many organizations today are making use of, the Microsoft Office 365 platform has certainly gained much momentum among new public cloud customers and those who are reevaluating their current public cloud provider.

When comparing the G Suite public cloud with Microsoft’s Office 365 environment, there are certainly some stand out areas that may attract or sway organizations to consider migrating from Google’s G Suite environment to Office 365. Microsoft has strong advantages with the familiarity with Microsoft applications in the enterprise environment, Microsoft operating systems powering many enterprise environments, as well as the ability to install full Microsoft applications locally and the strong Microsoft security services that have no Google equivalent. In the last part of the Cloud Migration guide, we will look at reasons organizations may look at migrating from Office 365 environments to Google G Suite.

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