CIGREF is looking for alternatives to G Suite and Office 365

The CIOs of large French organizations, who are grouped within CIGREF, take stock of their relationships with key IT suppliers every year. Every supplier (SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, IBM, Google, AWS) is entitled to their committee, the conclusions of which are often weighty and are published in a report published today.

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In addition to these committees, there is a more transversal working group whose aim is to find credible and robust alternatives to the products of the IT giants.

In 2018, CIGREF began exploring open source solutions in order to gain independent leverage in negotiations with these suppliers. In 2019 he continued the process by initiating discussions “about alternatives to several hegemonic providers in their market”. The association then directed itself mainly against Java (Oracle), Adobe and already Microsoft Office.

Growing interest in alternatives to Office

Office exactly. The Microsoft suite has been massively “cloudified” (managed and hosted by Microsoft, payment by subscription, data in Azure, etc.). And the recent events associated with remote working have brought the concerns of CIOs to the fore.

The 2020 vintage of the CIGREF group for alternatives therefore concentrated on tools for collaboration – Office 365, but also G Suite.

“Today is the solution market […] is divided into three roughly equivalent parts between Google Cloud with G Suite, Microsoft with Office 365, and a variety of solutions, some of which are open source, ”the study group notes.

“Any contractual negligence gives suppliers the opportunity to increase their sales without adding any added value to our company. “CIGREF

The problem with the first two, notes CIGREF, is the lack of a standard between their building blocks and difficult migrations. We can guess the fear associated with being a “trapped customer” as these tools become increasingly critical. “Access to open source solutions [collaborative] is a recurring request from companies that show the desire to take this technological change into account, ”CIGREF clearly confirms.

In addition to this desire not to be dependent on a publisher, CIGREF justifies the need for alternatives with the desire of suppliers to demand more and more for the cloud, even if the customer does not necessarily need it.

“Contract negotiations and discussions about licenses have priority over content-related discussions, over our projects on digital transformation and business innovation. This is because any contractual negligence is an opportunity for suppliers to increase their sales without adding value to our company, ”says CIGREF about suppliers in general.

Microsoft: A friend who wants you (almost) well

With regard to Microsoft in particular, the Association of CIOs recognizes that the world’s largest publisher has been a partner of the storm. “The Covid-19 and the detention have […] trite – at least temporarily – customer relationships [avec Microsoft]. Indeed, many Cigref members underlined and thanked the responsiveness and resilience of Microsoft’s solutions and teams, as well as the efforts of the sales teams to adapt projects and payment plans, ”the association admits.

But not everything is rosy for that. The “temporary” part of the quote is very important. “However, Microsoft’s trading guidelines tend to force users to change software versions or consume more,” accuses CIGREF. “And the constant further development of licensing continues to lead to additional costs, budget uncertainties and thus to great irritation.”

At the same time, CIGREF also deplores “the interventions (which are viewed as being too marketing) by Microsoft” and the many “pitfalls” of its licensing.

Google: “Kurian effect” but growing tensions

And Google, the other “big one” in the industry with G Suite? Here, too, the tone of CIGREF is not the most forgiving. Even if we experience a certain pleasure associated with the “Thomas Kurian Effect”, the new CEO of Google Cloud and one of the former thinkers at Oracle.

“The 2019-2020 season was full of meetings with Google Cloud […] The supplier’s expertise and transparency are unanimously welcomed. The Cigref greeted Thomas Kurian twice. This access by Cigref to its top managers is testament to Google’s investment in both professional clients and the French market. “

But Kurian or not Kurian, CIGREF has complaints.

The association initially noted “growing tensions”. “The negotiations are becoming more difficult as Google gains market share and consolidates its presence in companies,” analyzes the Association of CIOs. CIGREF then regrets “the frustration of the” early adopters “who experience a delay between the” honeymoon “period of the first contract (pilot, co-construction, co-funding) and subsequent contract extensions”.

With G Suite in particular, CIGREF notes a “feeling of loss of attractiveness (and bargaining leverage) among“ G Suite only ”customers”.

“The SaaS trap is closing”

In both cases, the search for alternatives takes place against the background of a more global criticism of SaaS with a cruel realization: the cloud is neither cheaper nor easier than “local”.

“There’s a departure from SaaS, with tariff inflation, bundling (it’s impossible to buy a single tool) […] and a tightening of the business relationship with sellers who are only interested in the cloud, “lists Bernard Duverneuil, President of Cigref and CIO of Elior, at a press conference.

“There is a departure from SaaS as price inflation, bundles and sellers are only interested in the cloud. “Bernard Duverneuil CIGREF and Elior

“Even with the pay-per-use model [du cloud]the search for sales growth among suppliers remains, ”emphasizes the association in its report. “Customers take advantage of this at their own expense when renewing: The amount of discounts is reduced, while the purchasing volume in the cloud tends to increase.”

“We’re back to old practices,” adds Bernard Duverneuil.

So the world before would still be there. But with an addition: “Overly restrictive roadmaps that distract companies from real digital transformation projects”.

In short, the “SaaS trap is closing”, summarizes Philippe Rouaud, President of the Supplier Relations Club and CIO of France Television, in a shocking formula.

A list of alternatives soon?

What is the working group – led by Stéphane Rousseau, CIO of Eiffage and Co-President of CIGREF – proposing to break free from the SaaS of G Suite and Office 365?

Nothing official at the moment. Stéphane Rousseau and his team are still carefully analyzing the various options for “determining the criteria for accepting these offers (reliability, security, compliance, interoperability, etc.)”.

“The point is not to create a repository for alternatives, but to examine the possibilities of coexistence between proprietary and open source offers (or non-proprietary offers),” added a spokesman for the association.

Until the publication of the “delivery item” planned for November, CIGREF has already insisted on the conditions for implementing these alternatives, which it may soon recommend. There is no question, he warns, ignoring support for change or cultural or organizational aspects. Otherwise, going back to Office or G Suite (or both) that reps are familiar with is almost a given.

Once the document is released, it remains to be seen whether French companies will really dare to take the plunge, test and then sign budgets to deploy non-Microsoft and non-Google suites on a large scale, even as a simple add-on . Or whether this document will remain a means of exerting pressure to calm the commercial enthusiasm of the two publishers in the next negotiations.