(TechRepublic) by Jason Hiner - Microsoft has a long history with CIOs. Google is one of the most trusted brands on earth. TechRepublic’s CIO Jury ruled on which one IT trusts more. 

Jason Hiner is the Editor in Chief of TechRepublic. Previously, he worked as an IT Manager in the health care industry. You can also find him on Twitter, LinkedIn and at

Google has gotten much more aggressive about expanding beyond Web search in 2009. The area where Google is placing its biggest bet is in business applications, a traditional Microsoft stronghold with Exchange on the server side and Microsoft Office on the client side.

Google is making the pitch to businesses that it can save them money, speed up deployments, and provide users with a simpler experience. The search giant has launched a its “Go Google” ad campaign and trotted out the University of Notre Dame and the City of Los Angeles as examples of two big organizations that have made the move to Google Apps.

The primary obstacle Google has to overcome is to convince IT leaders to transfer company data from internal servers to the Google data centers, with all of the security, privacy, and compliance risks that such a move entails. So this type of decision really comes down to trust. Do CIOs trust Google?

We decided to examine that question. On October 20, TechRepublic polled its 90-member panel of U.S. IT executives and asked, “Who do trust more as a technology partner, Microsoft or Google?” The jury - made up of the first 12 respondents - voted 8-4 in favor of Microsoft.

The CIO Jury for this verdict was:

Chuck Codling, Director of Infrastructure for Rocky Brands, Inc. Chuck Musciano, CIO of Martin Marietta Materials Jeff Relkin, Director of IT for Quadel Jeanne DeVore, Head of IT for Chicago Shakespeare Theater Brian Stanek, VP of IT for NAMICO Michael Hanken, VP of IT for Multiquip Inc. David Van Geest, Director of IT for The Orsini Group Ingo Dean, IT Director of EastWest Institute Brian Terry, VP of IT for Constitution Corporate Federal Credit Union Olaf Lund, Director of IT for Lincoln Financial Media Jeff Cannon, CIO of Fire and Life Safety America Michael Stoyanovich, CIO of BeneSys, Inc

TechRepublic’s CIO Jury is based on the original CIO Jury concept developed by, where you can find lively opinions from IT leaders based in the UK.

The skeptical attitude toward Google was best summed up by Donna Trivison, Director of IT for Ursuline College, who wrote, “There seems to be some conventional wisdom that Google is the answer to what’s been wrong over the years in the Microsoft universe. That kind of thinking may be dangerous. As consumers of technology we need to keep each and every business partner honest and working for us. Handing trust carte blanche over to Google because, as the wisdom goes, they are good citizens, seems misguided to me. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Microsoft because they have withstood the scrutiny their misdeeds have landed them. Google remains, for the most part, untested.”

When confronted with the Microsoft vs. Google question of trust, Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO of H.A.W.C. Community Health Centers, said, “Neither. While some of the technology that Google has been releasing is intriguing, their track record of leaving things in ‘beta’ for years does [not] lead to a [high] level of confidence. Microsoft is Microsoft. If I had to pay full price for their products (i.e. we did not have access to non-profit donation pricing), I would have to give serious consideration to other solutions.”

Below are additional quotes from TechRepublic’s panel of IT leaders - beyond just the 12 on the jury - who responded to the Microsoft vs. Google question. I’ve divided them up into the two camps, the ones who trust Microsoft more and the ones who prefer Google.

Microsoft: The devil you know


Google's campaign for Apps doesn't address the IT data elephant in the room Posted by Larry Dignan [Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic.]

Google has launched a “Go Google” marketing push for Google Apps touting cost savings and recruiting users to spread the word.

The campaign—modeled after Mozilla’s Firefox marketing efforts—makes sense for browsers, but for skeptical IT buyers, Google drops the ball.

Why? Google’s campaign touts how more than 1.75 million businesses are switching to Google Apps. Google correctly targets the Exchange market. The pitch (Techmeme, Google announcement):

It’s all hosted by Google, and designed with security and reliability in mind, saving your company the frustrations and hassles of managing traditional IT solutions yourself.

Well that’s the problem. In fact, nothing in Google’s marketing toolbox—the viral emails, the YouTube videos and the posters you can plaster near the water cooler—are going to change fact that your corporate data is hosted by Google. If Google really wants to entice the enterprise it should have skipped the YouTube videos and allowed companies to store some of their own data.

Oh sure, you can mock the concerns about Google hosting corporate data as overblown. But IT leaders don’t have that luxury. Other companies such as Zoho already realize this and allow you to store your own data if you choose.

BusinessWeek recently addressed the corporate data concerns. GE is testing Google Apps, but also Zoho. Why the latter? Zoho allows you to host your data too. If you’re in a heavily regulated industry you’re not going to be emailing Google’s helpdesk trying to track a 2006 email to satisfy a Sarbanes-Oxley requirement.

Microsoft is going to take those compliance worries and inability to store corporate data on premise and beat Google over the head with it. At Microsoft’s investor meeting Kevin Turner, the software giant’s chief operating officer, said:

Customers don’t want 100 percent of every piece of data for every application managed in the Cloud. They simply don’t. For some users, for some applications, for some competitive reasons or privacy reasons or security reasons, they want to control that and manage it.

Turner then touted moviemaker Lion’s Gate, which tried Google Apps and then bailed. Turner said:

I know of a company that I personally visited called Lion’s Gate, the film company, and we went in there. And Google had a big trial and they were rolling it out, and they were unhappy with the security issues, the privacy issues and the performance issues that you continue to read about in the press. In fact, that’s one of my favorite ways to compete against this particular product. It’s just go out on the Web and pull down the outages, the security issues and the privacy issues for the past 18 months and print them out, and you staple it. And it’s about this thick. And you hand it to a CIO and say, “Let’s go through this and really understand what you are getting into.” And so it’s an incredible opportunity for us, again, to get very competitive and to really compete to win in that particular space.

This trench warfare will continue, but Google could thwart much of Microsoft’s pitch if it allowed companies to store some of their own data. No one wants to be all cloud all the time.

Overall though, Google’s campaign has some interesting quirks. The email to your resident CIO is comical—especially since it opens up in Outlook.

However, these posters are annoying.

The CIO’s reply to that poster will be: You need to get a clue about security, privacy and compliance. Simply put, nothing Google has addresses the security, support and compliance worries that IT leaders have to worry about. “Trust us” won’t work. You need to be able to store your own data.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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