I would venture that it has not been the best period for Google. As Google Apps users move to a more unified service with more features, offerings and numerous 3rd party applications this should have been a great start. Google seem to be reacting to the new competition that Office 365 brings which is a very positive move for them so it must have been a devastating blow when news of Chinese attacks on Google Apps for Government hit the headlines.
Confusion surrounding the cloud still seems rife. The buzz word of choice in IT at the moment is one that everyone has heard yet only some understand. Assumptions of what people can do in the cloud are not helping matters. Cloud delivery is still emerging with Office 365 still awaited and Microsoft have this month released their Cloud CRM system, Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Interestingly, Sony are about to release a cloud storage facility for the PS3 and rather than using the term Cloud they are coining the title ‘Online Saving’. This is of course a cloud offering but Sony must have decided that the straight forward name of Online Saving will better communicate the offering to the PS3’s consumer audience.
Google are introducing an email continuity option for users of Microsoft Exchange Server – the service will work only with Exchange 2003 and 2007. This is an interesting move on behalf of Google/Postini as when the exchange server goes down, users will be introduced to Gmail’s interface – thus making this a move which Google must be hoping will help Google partners move to Google Apps. In some ways it seems to me that they have come up with the perfect pilot scheme and the fact that its available for 2003 and 2007 users only is probably as much by design as anything else. Those who are running Exchange 2010 would have upgraded in the not too distant past and it would be fair to assume were receiving a more reliable service as a result. Google is sensible to target those who’s Exchange systems are older and, on the whole, less reliable.
It has recently been announced in the US that Google Apps for Government have won another major contract. In a blog which reminded me of news that I used to get on my pager many years ago (I do still miss the headline delivery of news which made me sound more interesting and on the ball when sitting in the pub), a dailyator blog reports (and this is the whole thing!): “The United States General Services Administration (GSA) is moving 17,000 employees and contractors to Google Apps for Government, reportedly replacing their use of several different versions of IBM’s Lotus Notes and Domino Software. Microsoft isn’t thrilled.”
Email overload has finally met its match. Gmail, part of Google Apps Premier has introduced a new feature called Priority Inbox that is going to be able to save users of company email the most important of commodities, time. Google has built a system which works out which of your messages are important and presents them at the top of the screen, saving company workers time. The rest of your messages are still there, but you don’t have to dig through spam that escaped your filters to find those important emails.
With Mobile phone Giant O2 releasing its Eco rating System today it is interesting that the 2 main business phone providers decided to opt out of the assessment. As the two market leaders, perhaps this is understandable (especially as they have both opted out), as unless they were the greenest phones, the rating could only of been to their detriment. It does seem almost comical though that the two vendors named after fruit (which is surely attaching some sort of green marketing spin) both refuse to be independently assessed on their carbon footprint. Perhaps even stranger that, with the emphasis on green matters today, the trendiest phones on the market will stand out as unrated next to all the other phones on offer at O2. With Sony Ericsson topping the list as the most eco friendly phone, is there going to be more competition for Apple and Blackberry based on green credentials?
We’ve been learning a lot at Cloud Hypermarket about what the main points of interest for business are when it comes to choosing between the main vendors of email based Software-as-a-Service suites - Microsoft and Google. On deeper inspection there is quite a disparity between Microsoft’s BPOS offering and Google Apps premier, each offering its own bonuses. As far as features are concerned you can compare Microsoft's BPOS and Google Apps on Cloud Hypermarket. However it seems to me that the main difference between the products has very little to do with functionality.The vast majority of IT managers I have talked to have grown an affinity with Google and have spent time focussing on that, whilst remaining fully blinkered about Microsoft’s offering (some seem to refuse to acknowledge its existence). In this case Microsoft’s familiarity seems to have been working against it. IT managers have had years of having very little competition to Microsoft when it comes to dealing with email. They’ve literally had to use Outlook and Exchange. In 2009, 36.7% of all email, both domestic and business, was used through Microsoft’s Outlook client (see chart Outlook 2000, 2003, Express and Outlook 2007). Source: Campaignmonitor.com
Further to my very simplistic view of the cloud in my previous post I thought it would be worth elaborating on what the concept of 'the cloud' would mean to small (non IT) business. I went to the world cloud forum in Kensington Olympia this week and also took part in ‘Cloud Camp’. The introductory speech was from Simon Wardley and it was excellent – something that anyone who doesn’t really know about the cloud should try and catch. There are versions of his introduction on youtube and I would suggest it is worth checking out if you want a good basic idea of what ‘the cloud’ is.
With growing optimism about the end of the recession, businesses everywhere are looking to grow their operations, whilst at the same time keeping a handle on costs. With the banks not lending businesses are looking for new and innovative solutions to allow them to grow. Nowadays, IT is a central part of every business but traditionally can be prohibitively expensive.