Google denies its Apps just a Microsoft Office add-on

Google responds to criticism of its hosted collaboration suite

Google staff don't like the suggestion that their own employees depend mostly on Microsoft Office even as Google Apps makes headway into the enterprise collaboration and e-mail market.

An August report by the Burton Group called Google Apps "weak compared to best-of-breed point solutions" and said customers can view it as "a collaboration add-on to Microsoft Office, which is how Google uses it internally."

A Google blogger subsequently posted statistics showing that the vast majority of Google employees regularly use Docs & Spreadsheets, one of the programs in Google's hosted collaboration suite. Separately, a Google spokesman tells Network World that some employees use Google Apps as their only collaboration suite.

"Employees get to choose the tools they want to do the job," spokesman Emmanuel Evita says in an email. "Some Google employees use only Google Apps, some use traditional desktop applications, many use a combination of the two. To say Google Apps is used 'only as a collaboration add-on' is inaccurate for those who choose it as a primary or preferred means of communication and collaboration."

Google Docs & Spreadsheets product manager Ken Norton, in a blog posting on August 28, writes: "Since we use all of the Google Apps every day, we experience first hand what works and what doesn't, and we can apply that knowledge to making the products better."

Norton then offers statistics: "87 per cent of Google employees worldwide used Docs & Spreadsheets in the past week and 96 per cent have used it in the past month. Googlers have created and shared more than 370,000 documents and spreadsheets and they create more than 3,000 new ones each day. In fact, I wrote this blog post and shared it with colleagues using Docs & Spreadsheets just a few moments ago."

Norton didn't say how often Google employees use Microsoft Office.

Microsoft, though it still dominates the email and workplace collaboration market with Office, is paying close attention to Google Apps.

Microsoft developers have been spurred to make their own product more user-friendly as Google trumpets the simple, easy-to-use Apps.

The Burton Group isn't that impressed with Google Apps, though, having published a report titled "Google Apps in the Enterprise: A Promotion-Enhancing or Career-Limiting Move for Enterprise Architects?"

The Burton Group says Google Apps is useful in some circumstances but has a "rudimentary feature set" that can "spell trouble for enterprise architects and their companies if they don't do their homework."

In response to the report, Google released a statement saying Google Apps offers a cost-effective solution and expands the choices available to enterprises and small businesses.

"We think Google Apps Premier Edition gives organisations and workers a new set of choices, many of which will complement and extend the power of the desktop, enhance group productivity and improve collaboration," Google states.

"Some organisations will be interested in Google Apps Premier Edition because they want to reduce time spent maintaining their own email infrastructure -- servers, storage, backup, spam filtering, etc -- and spend those resources focusing on technologies that are more strategic to their business.

"In other organisations, Google Apps Premier Edition will be a cost-effective way to provide email, calendar and other services to workers that traditionally haven't had email."

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Jon Brodkin

Network World

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