I recently read through a new Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) Partner Guide called 7 Keys to Comparing Google Apps Premier Edition with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Discrepancies and misdemeanors aside, the biggest problem I have with the piece is that it's the wrong comparison if you want to sell Google Apps to customers. The piece is great collateral to demonstrate the differences between on-premises and hosted services but it does not say why way GAPE is say better than Microsoft Exchange Online.
To be fair, and not to single out Google, I've found that the collateral from major cloud computing vendors (including IBM and Microsoft) tend to do a pretty good job at presenting arguments in favor of cloud-based services versus on-premises deployments, but they tend to confuse the comparison as justification that their particular services are better than another vendor's services. Wouldn't the Google piece have more value if it were called 7 Keys to Comparing Google Apps Premier edition with Microsoft Exchange Online?
Of course cloud computing is the hot new item and currently represents a huge new promised land for enterprise computing; what if you could have all of the benefits of email without all the fuss? It's like dating without commitments. In reality there are commitments and right now vendors see huge opportunities as long as they can get the huge economies of scale that make it all pay off. It's big business.
Last week I blogged about a recent McKinsey report that shoots some holes into the cloud argument. My best advice to any customer is to consider these delivery models carefully and make strategic decisions according to thier unique business, technical, and security requirements. The real comparison is two-fold; is cloud computing a good choice for you, and which cloud offering will meet the needs of your firm?