Why Serena Went Back to Microsoft
But Brister fleshed out why he switched back to Microsoft in this blog post May 18, hinting at weaknesses in Google Apps. Specifically, he said BPOS will help Serena collaborate more effectively internally and with customers and partners, "without having to deal with content loss or clients being unable to open or edit a document. In particular, Exchange is unchallenged in its calendaring and contact management abilities, mission-critical functions for a global company such as Serena.""In my opinion, Google's contacts [functionality] is nonexistent," said Brister, who noted Serena went with Google because it was the only credible company offering cloud collaboration at the time. "It's also their lack of professional customer support. Enterprise counts for 2 to 3 percent of their business and I think they put 2 to 3 percent of their effort into it, whereas enterprise is Microsoft's wheelhouse." He also said users who forwarded an e-mail with an attachment while Gmail was offline would sometimes have that attachment stripped-without warning-when it arrived at its destination. Google's support team told Serena to disable the offline feature in Gmail, an untenable solution in Brister's opinion. There were other issues, but Brister said on balance the rate of maturity slowed for Google Apps, whereas Microsoft picked up the pace with BPOS. "Google just hasn't matured to the point that we would have expected by now, and frankly Microsoft is a way better fit for us," said Brister, who was actively testing Google Apps 18 months before deploying it to his company's 800 employees. Google, meanwhile, took the high road in response to Brister's analysis, and pointed to its solid track record and rampant innovation in products such as Google Docs, which just received a major overhaul that enables it to preserve the fidelity of Microsoft documents. "Free is a great price, and we wish Ron well," a Google spokesperson said. "We can always do better, and we take our customers' feedback to heart. We'll continue our efforts to provide the best possible service and support, which is reflected in our 90 percent-plus renewal rate." In any event, the Serena and Microsoft lovefest is just one small sign that Google now has a major player to contend with in the sea of collaboration providers that includes IBM, Zoho and Cisco Systems. That player would be Microsoft, which blazed the first big trail in the messaging and collaboration market. What is old is new, even in the cloud.
However, that blog post was published on Microsoft's TechNet site, not Serena's site. Just to be careful, eWEEK sought more clarification from Brister, who said he expects to have the company running on BPOS by the end of August.