back to article Airbus CIO: We dumped Microsoft Office not over cost but because Google G Suite looks sweet

Collaboration rather than cost is the reason Airbus has given Microsoft’s old-world Office app bundle the heave ho and is migrating 130,000 staff – the entire workforce – to Google’s G Suite. As exclusively revealed by The Register on Wednesday, Airbus – yes, the designer, builder and seller of civil and military aeronautical …

Page:

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Collaboration rather than cost is the reason"

    Well yes GS enterprise costs $25 a month - $5 more than Office E3.

    "We want people to fundamentally reconsider how they work and move away from old ways of working,"

    So we are going to give them a crappy feature limited office package so that they will be busy bitching that nothing works anymore and they will have to colaborate to work out how to get anything done.

    " like sending millions of emails around,” said Hennekens."

    And we are taking Outlook away to break that too.

    My money says at least 10% of them will still need a proper local MS Office install, amd that they will move to O365 within 3 years!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My money says at least 10% of them will still need a proper local MS Office install"

      What exactly will the need consist of for a company with over 100k employees who are in a position to dictate document formats to their suppliers?

      I hope I'm not being snarky; I'm asking a serious question. Airbus uses CAD and a whole lot of modelling software from FEA through the whole gamut of CAM, along with things like Mathematica. They probably have a documentation department that handles everything from Adobe through to CTP software. So what features of Excel or Word are they likely to need that are not already being done by more capable, dedicated software, and which are also not available in Docs?

      1. Roger Greenwood

        I'm with you - right tool for the job. Standard office tools have a place but far too often we get engineering drawings somehow created in a spreadsheet and sent to us. That's room plans, schematics, mechanical panel layouts, anything to avoid using a proper CAD system. Completely inappropriate but cheap! As the article says, they are trying to reduce the amount of email, empower more of the workforce and do things differently - makes sense. Google started about 10 years ahead of Microsoft on collaboration and I'm not sure they've caught up yet.

        1. fajensen Silver badge

          ... anything to avoid using a proper CAD system. Completely inappropriate but cheap!

          One does not want non-CAD users to be using a proper CAD system because whatever they produce, while using an enormous amount of time on the task, will still be straight-up garbage and has to be redone anyway!

          The proper CAD systems come with numerous rules, requirements and licensing costs that none of the "clients" that "just" want a design done according to the rules and processes that the business requires have time, staff and budget to deal with.

          With Google they probably get Scetch-up too - which is good enough to explain to the CAD-person what one wants and a standard tool (since they roll it out everywhere). Of course Boeing now also get acces to everything via TISA; but, anything to keep the yanks happy!

      2. TReko

        Office to Docs collaboration

        Most of our company is forced to use Google Docs. It is good, but limited. Some of us have a waiver and continue using Word and Excel. We use the Syncdocs plugin to collaborate in real-time between Docs and Office.

      3. katrinab Silver badge

        "So what features of Excel or Word are they likely to need that are not already being done by more capable, dedicated software, and which are also not available in Docs?"

        The accounts department is going to need Excel. Calculating lease discounts and interest; interest rate swaps, currency swaps etc on Google Sheets is not going to be fun.

        1. Anonymous Bullard

          The accounts department is going to need Excel

          Because a single department possibly uses the advanced features of Excel*, the entire company must also use it?

          *(Let's ignore the fact they're probably using dedicated software)

          I agree that Word+Excel are probably the best - as a Linux user I do miss a few features when writing software specs. However, that's because I actually know how to use ~50% of the feature set.

          But let's face it, the majority of users are better off with WordPad... where there's less chance of fucking things up. They never venture beyond the first ribbon tab.

          We use G-suite at work, there's no pissing about passing files, we can edit documents in real time, there's history, permissions, and 95% of Word documents are... "readable" (if you want pixel perfect, use PDF).

          Me? I write my documents in markdown or html, like I should have been from the start.

          1. Camilla Smythe

            But let's face it, the majority of users are better off with WordPad...

            But let's face it, the majority of users are better off with Write...

            FTFY

          2. P. Lee Silver badge

            Alternatives to both

            My company has a large number of non-digitally-enabled users who are planned to require occasional connectivity. In the old device-cal based world, this was no problem - a few shared machines was fine. Now with O365, those costs are going to blow out massively.

            I looked at WPS Office. I tried loading up an IT detailed design to see how the word processor handled it. It was nearly perfect. The only problem I could see was that a "section break" appeared to insert an extra page break too. The spreadsheet also handled our awful 24k+ row spreadsheet no worse than Excel. Edrawsoft appears to provide a decent Vision alternative. These were all running in a Linux VM, without even base Windows providing GUI support. It was all very impressive and makes LibreOffice look pretty awful. Well worth a look if you want to cut costs while keeping the MSOffice look and feel and they give you Mac/Linux (some IOS/Android) support too.

            My inclination is to push for a site-deal with these companies, roll them into the SOE and make users justify MSOffice if they want it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The accounts department is going to need Excel. Calculating lease discounts and interest; interest rate swaps, currency swaps etc on Google Sheets is not going to be fun.

          Only if they're lazy and stupid. I come from a finance background, and have three decades experience of using spreadsheets in a finance or related context, and there's nothing that a finance professional or accountant need that can't be readily done with a very simple spreadsheet.

          The increasing complexity of Excel, the availability of "functions", macros and pivot tables hasn't improved finance teams, it has impoverished them. There's a whole generation of lazy accounting oiks who think that finance is about all those Excel fripperies - its the IT equivalent of depending on Github to do your job.

        3. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Exell or not with Excel

          "The accounts department is going to need Excel."

          I might be wrong, but I seriously doubt large companies use a spread sheet application for their accounts, I hope they have something more reliable for those tasks. Then again it could explain quite a few "problems" if they do.

          Sometimes I have this feeling that even Microsoft has to, eventually, start from scratch with something, perhaps Google has an advantage there, a fresher start, sort of.

          The link provided by this article regarding the Boeing/Airbus kerfuffle (not to mention Bombardier) is from 4 September 2017 "Boeing declares victory in Airbus subsidies dispute".

          However there is also this, and it is a separate but rather similar case, not reported on ElReg, and is from January 29 2018. "Bombardier just bested Boeing in a trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. Here's what you need to know.".

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/01/29/bombardier-just-bested-boeing-in-a-trade-dispute-between-u-s-and-canada-heres-what-you-need-to-know/?utm_term=.3a031fb1110a

          My point is that if ElReg wants to report on this never ending saga on how companies love competition, then keep us informed.

          PS. also the second link is outdated as Airbus actually got some very well needed new orders.

          1. Timo

            Re: Exell or not with Excel

            A large company will have a dedicated accounting system, but as soon as the beancounters need to make sense out of some info they'll dump it into an Excel file and massage it into a report.

            Probably not the best tool for the job, but the one that people can get around on.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Exell or not with Excel

              dump it into an Excel file

              9/10, that'll be a CSV file.

            2. eionmac

              Re: Exell or not with Excel

              Many accounting suites (even at major types) dump *only to excel*. [N1] They do not dump to any other installed spreadsheet program. Thus work around is a comma separated data dump and then reopened in spreadsheet of choice to sort out reports.

              [N1] lazyness in coding and assuming all desks run MS Office software.

          2. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Exell or not with Excel

            "I might be wrong, but I seriously doubt large companies use a spread sheet application for their accounts, I hope they have something more reliable for those tasks. Then again it could explain quite a few "problems" if they do."

            You'd be surprised.

            Yes the basic ledger entries will be on SAP or similar, but if you need to decide which of a choice of different financial instruments is most suitable for your purposes, SAP isn't going to do that. Working out the numbers to put into SAP, where it is more complicated than entering the number from the invoice / bank statement; you probably need Excel.

            Then you have Group Reporting / Consolidation, where you have to take the numbers from your different divisions around the world, adjust the numbers to reflect what they would be had the local office complied with laws in the head office country rather than the local office country, put them all together, eliminate transactions and balances between the different offices; you are never going to get a computer program that can cope with that.

            1. oldcoder

              Re: Exell or not with Excel

              "...adjust the numbers to reflect what they would be..."

              "...eliminate transactions and balances between the different offices..."

              Ah. You mean "lie about the data".

              I guess that would be easier without the back end validation.

              1. katrinab Silver badge

                Re: Exell or not with Excel

                '"...eliminate transactions and balances between the different offices..."

                Ah. You mean "lie about the data".'

                No, if Airbus Broughton ships a load of wings to Airbus Sevilla, then Airbus Broughton will report that as a sale to HMRC, and Airbus Sevilla will report it as a purchase to Agencia Tributaria, but when you are preparing the group accounts, it is just a shipment of parts from one building to another, so you have to take both the sale and purchase out of the accounts.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Exell or not with Excel

                Good grief - we've got an SAP apologist!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Exell or not with Excel

                  >Good grief - we've got an SAP apologist!

                  You mean a SAPologist, don't you?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Gdocs is perfectly capable of this. If anything, the collaborative templates will make it easier.

          It's totally untrue that gdocs isn't suitable for "real" office work. It's more to do with some people not being capable of adapting to change. Those sort of people are generally the company dead wood anyway....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "It's totally untrue that gdocs isn't suitable for "real" office work."

            Depends on how you define suitable. GS is in almost every respect significantly inferior to Office 365.

            "It's more to do with some people not being capable of adapting to change. Those sort of people are generally the company dead wood anyway...."

            Actually they tend to be real power users - highly skilled people that matter.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > Actually they tend to be real power users - highly skilled people that matter.

              The highly skilled people that I work with know enough about office tools to be able to run the CSV export function, so they can do whatever they need to do with Python, R, Matlab, Node, etc.

              Conversely, the "power users" are those who will give you a floor plan drawing made in Excel or copy and paste a JPEG into a Word document for no imaginable reason.

              Your experience may of course vary.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "The highly skilled people that I work with know enough about office tools to be able to run the CSV export function, so they can do whatever they need to do with Python, R, Matlab, Node, etc."

                And those that I work with write / compile those type of things to plug directly into Excel as an addin or VBA call and wouldnt dream of unnecessary exports to a CSV file.

            2. Chemical Bob
              Windows

              "Actually they tend to be real power users - highly skilled people that matter."

              Ah, yes, people who only know where the buttons are in one particular office suite...

        5. CliveLondon

          Password protection??

          Maybe Big G will do some basic stuff...like allow me to password protect individual spreadsheets & docs.

        6. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Same for this engineer as well. Being able to readily communicate between the Line Animals and myself is just the perfect pitch to my ears. Toss the logistics people into this conversation is sweet music.

        Personally, I've got all the packages/suites you mentioned and far, far more. Given my engagement with multiple firms, usually a one-off, I'm constantly seeing different formats. A full third of my software is just to enable me to work with those constantly changing formats. G-Suite is really very nice in this regard. The number of times I've used Office, yeah it's installed, can be measured with one thumb. Not that I have any love for Google, just that they get on with and have done so since the beginning.

      5. Mattknz1

        CAD CAM

        AutoCAD can datalink and reference Excel spreadsheets. A rather handy feature, last I was working on it this was not possible with anything other than Office, may have changed since?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CAD CAM

          "AutoCAD can datalink and reference Excel spreadsheets"

          Yes, but what has this got to do with designing aeroplanes?

          Airbus uses CATIA.

          (I remember when one of my kids graduated and went to work for an engineering consultancy. Not long after I heard about them training on CAD. "Is that AutoCAD?" I asked. "What's that? Never heard of it.")

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: CAD CAM

            > I remember when one of my kids graduated and went to work for an engineering consultancy. Not long after I heard about them training on CAD. "Is that AutoCAD?" I asked. "What's that? Never heard of it."

            You do not mention what is your kid's educational background. If it is engineering, I should certainly hope he would *at least* have heard of it. If it just a tool, but a rather important one.

            If that is not the case, your country has serious educational deficiencies and I would hazard, not a very bright future.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "So we are going to give them a crappy feature limited office package"

      Sounds like you haven't used it

      .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Sounds like you haven't used it"

        Sounds like YOU haven't used it. There are countless features that GS doesnt have that O365 does.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There are countless features that GS doesnt have that O365 does.

          That's a statement of fact not an argument. Just like the statement "O365 is bloated with countless features that the world doesn't need, and that 99% of users don;t know how to use properly".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            99% of users haven't got a clue of what their software can do, they've just been left to "pick it up" as best they can. Primarily because management doesn't see any value in training its workers to make best use of the (expensive) tools they've paid for.

            In large corporations, the amount of waste this leads to beggars belief.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "That's a statement of fact not an argument. "

            It's both. The average user probably only does use 1% of the features in Office, but GS is so limited and lacking in features in comparison that most enterprise users will notice and will find it a painful experience to use.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Like??

          As with anything, different products have different pros and cons. Gsuite has many advantages over office, specifically in collaboration, security, management.

          Part of the problem is that many people assume the free offing is the same as the paid business offering.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Gsuite has many advantages over office, specifically in collaboration,"

            Gsuite is roughly equivalent to O365 for document collaboration. However its significantly inferior for unified comms collaboration.

            "security, management."

            O365 is so far ahead on these that you have to use a telescope to see GS in the distance behind.

            "Part of the problem is that many people assume the free offing is the same as the paid business offering."

            Nope. We are talking about GS enterprise.

        3. Tinslave_the_Barelegged
          Joke

          > There are countless features

          Countless? Not another Excel bug....?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > There are countless features that GS doesnt have that O365 does.

          Out of curiosity, how often do you make a purchasing decision based on a tally of the number of "features" of A vs B?

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "There are countless features that GS doesnt have that O365 does."

          Meaningless features. That is MSFT's MO, let's add another button for the sake of saying we have another button whether anyone needs it or not. G Suite is simple, easy to use.

          It is actually a lot like Lotus vs Microsoft in the 90s. Lotus had way more functionality, but Microsoft was easier to use and what people preferred to use at home. Now Microsoft is Lotus.

        6. DrBed

          "There are countless features that GS doesnt have that O365 does."

          Countless ribbons instead tabs?

          Actually, "countless" (but mostly useless) features are the reason why I'm avoiding MS Office/365.

          Still, I'm missing Clippy...not.

        7. Gary Bickford

          Features not fixes

          I once read an interview with the then-manager of Excel development. He said they basically didn’t bother fixing bugs - “nobody will stop using Excel because of a bug, and they’ve already bought it.”. But if even one person asked for a feature they figured there were hundreds of others that also wanted it. So all of their development effort was adding features, almost none fixing the _many_ (as we all know) bugs.

    3. julian_n

      But after using "proper" apps like Outlook and Word, Office 365 is a bag of sh1te as well.

      What is a bigger surprise is that Airbus are putting their data on US servers within the grasp of the NSA - I guess they don't mind if they get passed to Boeing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "But after using "proper" apps like Outlook and Word, Office 365 is a bag of sh1te as well."

        Office 365 uses the exact same "proper apps". Its just the licensing thats different.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          @AC

          I think what @julian_n meant was the O365 web versions of Excel etc. not the local exes.

          The "web" Excel is just awful (and that's for really simple stuff like timesheets)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "I think what @julian_n meant was the O365 web versions of Excel etc. not the local exes.!"

            Which no one uses. As you can install the full Office suite included in the cost of O365.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Which no one uses. As you can install the full Office suite included in the cost of O365.

              Only if your using Windows and have local admin rights.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "Only if your using Windows"

                You're. And that's 99% of corporate desktops covered.

                "and have local admin rights."

                Nope - users don't need local admin rights. You can deploy it remotely via a GPO.

            2. rmason

              No.

              There are tiered costs for o365. the cheapest allows the online (terrible) versions only. Only with the higher cost one do you get the downloadable version of full office 2016.

              365 essentials Vs 365 business premium

              People are getting confused and therefore comparing apples to oranges.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "There are tiered costs for o365. the cheapest allows the online (terrible) versions only. "

                We are comparing to Gsuite Enterprise. Which is $25 a month. So the closest match is Office E3 at $20 a month.

                If you did want web apps, then 365 essentials is half the price of Google Suite standard at $5 a month. And the Web Apps are no more terrible than Google's ones - in fact they are generally more responsive - you can use them for free here:

                https://products.office.com/en-US/office-online/documents-spreadsheets-presentations-office-online

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020