Posted by Rob Koplowitz on May 23, 2007
by Rob Koplowitz.
Imagine two gigantic mountains of money. On top of each sits a warrior that wants nothing more than to be sitting on a pile of money twice the size. One warrior, we'll call him Google, dominates the world of on-line search and advertising. The other, we'll call him Microsoft, dominates productivity software.What's the fastest way to double the size of your mountain? Simple, take the other guy's pile.
Google entered the world of enterprise productivity software earlier this year. While they continually claim that they don't compete with Microsoft and that their goal is to bring collaboration and productivity to currently under-served workers,it's hard to imagine that they aren't eyeing that big pile of money that Microsoft is sitting on. Afterall, all those free lunches in Google's cafeterias aren't really free. Google wants you to give up that software and information on your laptop and access it all from their data centers.
Google spokespeople continually repeat the mantra, "We understand the enterprise". While I believe that to be true, I also think that Google has a lot to prove before being taken seriously as an enterprise software vendor. If they really intend to try to get at Microsoft's pile of money, they are going to have to demonstrate that they understand security, privacy and reliability and all in the emerging software as a services (SaaS) model. They also have to prove that they have the stomach to take on Microsoft for the long haul. Let's be clear here, Microsoft is not fond of anyone putting their hands on their pile of money.
Against this backdrop, we have an interesting new development. Rumors of a relationship between Google and Salesforce.com are popping up everywhere from blogs to the New York Times. Salesforce has spent the last seven years proving that critical business information and processes can be securely stored and accessed as a service. The proving ground has been customer relationship management, an application chock full of sensitive data you never want to see compromised. The bottom-line of those seven years has been that Salesforce has established their offering as secure, private and reliable in a SaaS model. Not may companies can make this claim. This accomplishment is non-trivial and represents a significant barrier to entry. As powerful as Google and Microsoft might be, they cannot make this claim.
We really don't know what, if any, relationship between Google and Salesforce might be in the works. That's the beauty of idle blog speculation! Let's just say that the two are working on some deep level of engineering integration. Imagine the world renowned efficiency of a Google data center meeting the Salesforce know-how in building multi-tenant, multi-domain, secure and reliable applications. Now consider the reach of the Google brand and the developing role of Apex as a platform for a developer ecosystem. Throw in Google's ability to fund research by reaching down into their mountain of money and maybe, just maybe you have the ingredients to really change the landscape for enterprise software.
Or maybe they'll just put their logos in each other's Web sites. ; )