University of California-Berkeley. Wikipedia Photo

Organizations everywhere are debating the best way to migrate systems to the cloud. And one of the biggest decisions that they face is the best cloud provider for their needs.

The University of California-Berkeley just went through an exhaustive process to choose a new cloud-based email and calendar provider, weighing options from both Google Apps and Microsoft’s Office 365. (The University of Washington just went through a similar process as it ditched its old Alpine email system earlier this year).

Now, here’s what Berkeley concluded after looking at both Google Apps and Office 365 to replace its CalMail system.

“While both products are feature rich and offer advantages over our current environment, the analysis concluded that the Google offering was the better overall fit for the campus at this time,” university officials wrote in a message earlier this week.

But now here’s the really interesting part. The university went beyond the traditional press release by laying out a detailed analysis of how Google Apps and Office 365 perform in critical areas.

As you’ll see in the Berkeley matrix assessment, it wasn’t a slam dunk for Google. Microsoft got higher marks in security, contract terms and ease-of-use with its calendar functionality.

But Berkeley decided to go with Google in part because it was easier to roll out and many of its students and faculty were already familiar with Gmail. Berkeley officials noted that Office 365 is still very much a new service. And they pointed out that one of the early adopters of the technology, The University of Nebraska, still had not migrated its email system to the new platform.

The report also notes that Microsoft’s previous online service offerings — BPOS and Live@EDU — did not have “exceptional track records for performance.”

“Google’s solution is optimized for web-based interaction,” the report says. “It is designed to be quickly provisioned and a migration to Google could begin more quickly than one to Office 365.” The university estimated that it would take six to 10 weeks to migrate systems to Google.

Via Wired which got a comment from Microsoft about the Berkeley deal and interviewed the university’s Shelton Waggener who said he’s been contacted by other organizations thanking him for the transparency in the report.

Previously on GeekWire: An e-mail exodus: How a frazzled UW grad student made the jump to Gmail


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  • Guest

    Well, this is UC Berkeley, the home of BSD UNIX…  Microsoft technologies have long taken a back-seat to “open” systems in university settings (particularly in Silicon Valley–though whether Google is “open” or not is another discussion). This story would be more newsworthy had they actually picked Office 365.

  • Guest

    Frankly, I don’t see a need for Berkeley to provide e-mail access at all. It’s 2011, people. If you can’t set up a Gmail account on your own, you’re far too dumb to get into Berkeley. Who still uses an e-mail address that will become worthless after one graduates?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, why host e-mail services on your own network. It’s sooo stupid… Too bad you can’t have your e-mail forwarded after you graduate. Oh wait, you can.

      • Guest

        Think long-term, Art. Do you want an e-mail address that is permanent (provided by Google) or do you want an e-mail address that you’ll have to convert to a forwarder in four years (provided by Berkeley)?

    • Dave

      Schools use email access like businesses do, to create distribution list, to schedule, to make course materials available, all of which are linked to an email account and that is why universities need to offer email. It is not surprising to see Gmail win against Microsoft in University settings though. The email, calendaring, etc. needs are less heavy duty for a University versus the average major business though. 

  • Guest

    How’s LA going? Oh right, not so well.

    • Goodideadave

      Yeah, but that’s LA.  Name another IT project in LA local government that’s going well.

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