Google Apps aims beyond Microsoft Office

Google Apps aims beyond Microsoft Office

Google Apps offers all the tools corporate IT need

Despite the roadblocks to gain entry into the enterprise all indications point to Google gearing up to do just that.

Sources say Google is buying up a great deal of dark fiber all around the country and at the same time hiring telecommunications engineers and delivering during the past year or two thousands of server blades to what are called Peering Centers, datacenters where networks converge to optimize connectivity.

This could be happening so that Google can offer the kind of quality of service, so-called five 9s uptime, required by the very biggest of enterprises before they would consider using an online streaming application.

Finally, Google executives are already making it quite clear where they are heading. Both Douglas Merrill, CIO and vice president of Engineering at Google, and Eric Schmidt, CEO, are increasingly going on the record about Google Apps in the enterprise.

"The hardest thing to build is a million-user consumer application with no downtime. We have taken that opportunity to bullet proof [for] large scale enterprise applications," Schmidt said.

Merrill even touches on the current climate of government regulations and the fact that Google Apps were built to meet those new demands.

"We built applications to meet regulatory requirement for even the largest enterprise companies. That means Google Apps already have enterprise security built into them," Merrill said.

Nevertheless, Google isn't the first company to attempt an Office killer. Whether it is Sun's Star Office most recently or WordPerfect from a previous generation, with 450 million users, chipping away at the Microsoft Office user base won't be easy.

Greenberg has reservations about whether or not Google understands this part of the market well enough to be a serious competitor. And he warns that one of the lessons of capitalism in the 20th century is that "extreme verticalization" doesn't succeed.

Companies need to outsource functions that companies are not an expert at. And, some would say, what Google does best is search and they should not get diverted by what other companies do best.

Only time will tell.

Jeffrey Falk, director of product development at The Members Group says his company, which has about 150 people and revenues in the US$50 million range, would consider Google Apps as a replacement for Microsoft Office mostly for the cost savings. But, he added it would have to meet a number of stringent requirements first.

"If we could find an ironclad solution that would deliver a quick time to market as far as the learning curve for us and we could overcome the hurdles of security and become comfortable with that, Google Apps has some legs," Falk said.

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