by C.G. Lynch

Google Doesn’t Care About the Enterprise, But You’ll Still Buy Software From Them Anyway

Apr 09, 20082 mins
Enterprise Applications

Tom Austin, a Gartner analyst, told attendees of the Gartner symposium today that Google doesn’t care about the enterprise, but that doesn’t mean the internet giant won’t play a key role in serving up applications “in the cloud” to corporations during the next few years, causing further disruptions to Microsoft and IBM’s business models.

Austin classified cloud computing — often deemed a “buzz word” or jargon — as being related to five different trends, including Software as a service (SaaS), open source, Web 2.0, global class, and consumerization. “Taken together, they represent the emergence of cloud computing,” he says.

Due to the low-cost with which Google can run its data center and deliver applications over the cloud, Austin says that low-cost options like Google Apps won’t necessarily replace a Microsoft Office overnight, but eventually will start to catch on as user-demand within organizations for simpler, collaborative online apps grows.

But hurdles remain. “There are still three things: Offline, offline, and offline,” Austin says. While Google has improved its ability to take documents offline, its Gmail has not been given the same ability.

The “Google doesn’t care about the enterprise” line occurred when Austin talked about how IT departments plan road maps for their organizations — something traditional vendors such as IBM and Microsoft have been very adept at providing enterprises.

“Does anyone get a road map from Google?” Austin asked. “No. For every app Google offers, there’s a blog with it. Go read the blog, they say, and you’ll see what new features we offer. You’d never accept this from a mainline vendor.”

But they’ll accept it from Google because it’s so cheap, he argues, and it allows IT to focus their efforts elsewhere. Google Apps premier edition includes e-mail, calendar, documents & spreadsheets, and, most recently, Google Sites, a wiki-based platform that allows people with no programming experience to build a corporate intranet. It costs a mere $50 per user, per year.

“The price of Google apps will drop even further,” Austin says.

One other problem with Google Apps is that CIOs and IT departments complain about the perils of storing data offsite, and how this affects compliance and security.

Austin’s response induced some laughter.

“Ask yourself. Do you really [the audience] think your systems are more secure than Google’s?”