Airbus recently announced a switch from Office 365 to Google. And while, on the surface this looks like a loss for Microsoft, it turns out that the initial story isn't the whole story. It's likely that what looks like a win for Google will turn out to be a vindication for Microsoft's hybrid approach to the cloud rather than Google's cloud-only approach. And there are some broader lessons to learn as well.
The decision by Airbus to move to Google was revealed in a leaked memo and confirmed by CEO Tom Enders. In that he said "Airbus has decided to take a major transformative step by moving from the Microsoft Office environment to Google Suite".
Diversity Limited has covered the basics of what's happening. In short, Ben Kepes - the author of that piece - says "Microsoft Office 365 is, after all, at least in part a cloud product. But here’s the rub: Google G-Suite is not cloud-first, it’s cloud-only. Microsoft Office (of the 365 or not flavor) gives organizations some options".
But he also said:
The entire company will transition to G Suite. However, because G Suite is a cloud-based solution, there are legal and national security implications. Certain categories of military, export controlled and personal data are required, by law, to remain within either specific national boundaries or on Airbus premises.
This is why a hybrid infrastructure makes more sense for many businesses. There are many benefits to cloud solutions but they aren't a one size fits all solution. And that's the crux of the Airbus deal. While Google apps are suitable in some situations, the French company's need to maintain greater control over some tasks and information means a hybrid approach, with software that works both in the cloud and locally makes sense.
Businesses have grappled with shorts between local and outsourced systems, and centralised and decentralised infrastructure. And the reason companies have moved back and forth is because neither is perfect. But today's technology allows businesses to have a foot in both camps.
And that's what we see in Airbus' move. The need a cloud solution for some applications and on-prem for others is what is driving this multi-vendor strategy. And while choosing two office productivity suites might not be suitable for all businesses, what's important is that we now operate in a world where it's possible to build a hybrid environment that meets the diverse needs of all businesses, large and small.