Google Aps Vs Microsoft Office Infrastructure

There has been lots of hype since yesterday about the newly announced Google Sites being the death knell for Microsoft SharePoint… see headlines below:

Each of these articles tries to draw comparisons to Microsoft SharePoint and puts Google Sites forward as a valid contender. Complete Twoddle! I think this is total nonsense… Google Sites isn’t even in the same ball-park as SharePoint from a functionality perspective and I think the comparison is just a joke…

Google Sites only provides very simple web site creation… whereas SharePoint is a highly advanced web-based collaboration, portal, search, content management including MOD-compliant records management, business forms, business intelligence and application-hosting platform… the two pieces of software shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence together!

SharePoint is huge and its usage has sky-rocketed over the last four years… it’s now the de facto standard for document management within the enterprise across virtually every industry sector… there’s no going back now… I’ll argue that Google Sites is simply too little too late within the enterprise space…

I’m not saying that Google Sites is bad… I actually think it’s a pretty good freebie for companies with really simple web-site and team-site needs… and I think it’s going to be hugely popular –  I just think the media hype about it bringing down SharePoint within enterprises is just silly…

The media would have us believe that Google, and their Google Aps suite is poised to shatter Microsoft’s dominance over corporate office and collaboration tools with a suite of disjointed online applications, the newest of which is Google Sites for creating business web sites and organisation team sites online, albeit free for base users, £25 approx per annum for corporate users who want extra features like storage space allowance and their own domain names etc.

Yes there is a huge business case for Google Apps… If I was starting a new company myself from scratch with no pre-existing infrastructure I’d be at Google’s front door with my cheque book with £25 per employee before I’d ever dream of trying to buy into Microsoft licenses for Active Directory, and Exchange and Office and SharePoint and all the rest of it…. and there are good examples of large corporate enterprise shifting in that direction, such as Proctor and Gamble for example!

Nevertheless I think the media underestimates the size of the battle ahead of Google in relation to trying to replace Microsoft Office within the enterprise.

First and foremost there is the will of average commercial Microsoft Office user… if you hadn’t noticed average user can’t be bothered with change that much… and they like the brand they know… like people who only buy Heinz beans… and Colgate toothpaste…

Second up, you’ve got all those ingrained system interfaces and Word/Excel report exports which companies have invested hugely in, all those Access databases interfacing onto back-office systems, all those highly customised word templates with the company logos embedded, all those Excel macros that grew up to be formalised business processes etc, etc. Office is everywhere within virtually every organisation. Sure Google Aps is as good as free, but the cost of trying to rip out Microsoft Office infrastructure for any sizeable company is just plain scary…

As well as this, I think it’s still going to be another couple of years before a lot of organisations really trust the likes of Google to host vast amounts of their corporate data…. especially when it’s not really clear where Google’s Service Level Agreements and Privacy Arrangements start and stop over your company’s data… I just don’t think they are an enterprise vendor yet….

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