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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Claims or innuendo from Google executives regarding the enterprise fitness of its cloud-based applications

Google on Thursday plans to introduce Google Sites, a new addition to its Google Apps suite that provides simple, intuitive tools for collaborative Web site creation.
Google Sites is based on the wiki technology developed by JotSpot, which Google acquired in October, 2006. The word "wiki," however, appears to have been lost during the move.

"We see Google Sites as bigger than a wiki," said Matthew Glotzbach, product management director of Google's enterprise group. "It's as easy to edit as a wiki, but looks as good as a Web site. ... One of the challenges of wikis, even though working with them is easier than working with HTML, is that they're built by IT for IT, and not with the end-user experience in mind."

With the elimination of the twee terminology, what remains is an application for quickly and easily designing group-editable Web sites. Google Sites users can put up Web sites in minutes and can, without any advanced technical skills, post a variety of files including calendars, text, spreadsheets, and videos for private, group, or public viewing and editing.

The launch of Google Sites has spurred closer examination of the Google Apps suite and of some of the claims or innuendo from Google executives regarding the enterprise fitness of its cloud-based applications.

Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb compiles a dossier from recent posts on ZDNet and other sites that strip bare the Google Sites bride. Google plays the backdoor game--IT isn't giving you solutions you can use, so raise the software pirate flag, and use Google Sites for free to manage projects:

Google is actually going about marketing to the enterprise market in a pretty ingenious way--they're not. Instead, they're bypassing the IT department (who would, in all honesty, probably laugh at the thought) and marketing their suite on the sly directly to the employees themselves: "Are the tools provided by your IT department too unwieldy to use? Is IT too slow to respond to your needs? Then forget IT and use Google Apps instead!" This is definitely a good plan for Google in the short term, but it's not one that is going to be good for them in the long run...especially when IT catches on to what their users are doing.
It's not good in the long run because sooner or later, IT and centralized control rear their heads. It's a cultural power struggle between IT and users that will go on forever.

Google is applying its guerrilla tactics, ingratiating itself with users and hoping that by the time it has more security, integration, service-level agreements, and less onerous terms of service, the battle to conquer the enterprise--and tweak Microsoft--will be won. It's not a short-term campaign
The marquee customer, among 500,000, touted by Google for Google Apps is Genentech. It so happens that Genentech Chairman and CEO Arthur Levinson is on Google's board. But that is beside the point.

Google Sites is not enterprise-class. It doesn't claim to be enterprise-class, unless you would define the category as wiki tools that:

• are not deeply integrated into corporate infrastructure

• lack service-level agreements

• require that you give the host a "perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and nonexclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services"

(That last part is lifted from the Google Terms of Service. See also the Google Apps Standard Edition Agreement.)

The fact is that wikis, ranging from free, such as Twiki, to more enterprise-scale solutions, such as Atlassian, MindTouch and Socialtext, are spreading like wildfire throughout corporations.

Google, the 800-pound search elephant, is just making its appearance in this space, with an easy-to-use product for individuals, smaller businesses, and rakish departments of larger companies that is still under construction.

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