‘Cavalier’ Google burning enterprise Apps bridge

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‘Cavalier’ Google burning enterprise Apps bridge

Google’s strategy of sneaking its hosted applications into enterprise environments without the knowledge of IT appears to be working, but its ‘cavalier’ attitude to the enterprise way of doing things may also be its undoing, Gartner has said.

A jam-packed auditorium at today’s Symposium ITxpo in Sydney hung on every word from VP and Gartner fellow, Tom Austin, as he presented the hotly anticipated ‘Microsoft vs. Google’ session.

Austin said that although Google’s user base for Google Apps was relatively small compared to the extended Microsoft Office suite - a claimed 10 million active users versus half a billion - and its revenue model was unclear, Google did appear to be achieving some success in ‘corrupting’ enterprise users to quietly use its Apps suite without central IT permission.

“Google’s happy if their stuff sneaks into the enterprise without approval,” said Austin.

“Microsoft is scared to death of doing the same thing, of trying to hook your users on more stuff without your approval, but this is what we see happening in Web 2.0. Your users will be corrupted, its just a matter of who is doing it.”

Austin hypothesised that Google’s motivation in the enterprise doesn’t appear to be revenue-driven, at least not directly.

“We believe 90 percent of people who use Google Apps in enterprises today aren’t paying for it,” said Austin.

“They’re not even getting Google Apps standard edition.

“If this was Microsoft giving it away, they’d be going nuts. Notice that Google’s not doing that.

“We think they’re happy if people are just using their technology. The more eyeballs going to Google sites the happier they are,” Austin proposed.

However, he warned that Google’s ’cavalier’ attitude to the enterprise sector could hurt the use of the Apps suite long-term,

“It’s either their way or the highway,” said Austin.

“For example, traditionally we think of rolling out software upgrades when we’re ready for it. We don’t want to upgrade SAP every two weeks because things like regression testing are long-standing enterprise requirements when you upgrade.

“What do u get from Google? Go to their blog every two weeks and see what they’ve changed. There’s advantages and disadvantages to continuous rolling updates, but it’s not the enterprise way.”

He added: “At the end of the day Google want parts of the enterprise market but they aren’t willing to bend their core business model of producing mass market tools of general interest.

“They’re going after the enterprise space as collateral damage from their strategy of being everything to everybody in a horizontal way.”

Microsoft did not emerge from the presentation clean. Among other things, Austin said they faced a continued danger of losing relevance in the market.

He also seriously questioned Microsoft’s ability to come good on its software plus services aspirational vision, even within a five-year timeframe.

“There’s something retrograde and reactive about the software plus services phraseology,” said Austin.

“Personally I think it will be dead next year - not the strategy, just the phrase.

“There’s something more powerful going on inside Microsoft represented by Azure and Live Mesh. At some level they get [the future], but I think vision is far better than the label of software plus services.”
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