According to Murrey, Cinram couldn't get a deal, nor could they get much help.
Cinram was spending about $225 per user per year just to keep its Exchange 5.5 system running, said Murrey. That included backups and the hundreds of hours spent every year making repairs, such as dealing with file problems.
If the company had moved to the cloud version of Exchange or Exchange Online, the cost would have been $180 to $200 per seat, including implementation costs and internal labor needed to make the switch.
"That was very surprising," said Murrey. "We checked with several Microsoft vendors locally and we just weren't getting much support or help to get a fully thought-out plan for migration and what a migration would require. We were running such an old version of Exchange they said there was no native migration tool to get our data into a format that would be usable. That's what most of the cost was going to be -- getting our data moved over."
Microsoft initially declined to comment for this story, but later noted that the price it quoted Cinram was specific to that company.
Murrey said he was recounting his woes to IT people from another company, and they recommended he consider Google Apps.
The Google technicians were helpful and eager to work with him. Google sent deployment engineers to one of Cinram's facilities and they white boarded the entire migration process and mapped out costs.
"This is a sign, perhaps, of Google maturing as a software vendor and not just a services provider," said Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis. "They understand the need for the consultative side of this business and what customers need. It used to be...it was a very hands-off, distant relationship and I've seen a lot of evidence in the past 12 or 18 months...that they are adding a lot of direct services and really learning to work with the customers."
As for Microsoft, Shimmin said it's never seen itself as a "a high-touch" kind of company. That may need to change, especially if there's a large cost gap between Google and Microsoft.
Moving to Google's online office apps would cost Cinram $83 per user per year. That's a big reduction from Microsoft's Exchange Online cost of $180 to $200 per user per year.
Murrey said he calculated that moving from Microsoft's client email to Google cloud applications saved the company about $3 million over three years. For example, it would have cost Cinram $1.7 million alone just to upgrade hardware to handle a transition to Exchange 2007.
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