Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google building Business Apps

I read a very interesting post by software engineer Sergey Solyanik who tells his story of leaving Microsoft, going to work for Google and returning to Microsoft.

Its a balanced account of the reasons why he returned to Microsoft, What caught my eye and got me thinking was his opinions on the challenges Google has in building solutions targeted at business. Google along with its primary search products has built a series of popular "free" products. By being "free", Google enables its development teams to be more "agile" and release code to production environments frequently, however accordingly there seem to be fairly frequent introductions of new bugs and outages but by being "Free", the user base is also more accepting of these issues.

This would appear to be a major inhibitor to Business market dominance. As Google begins entering the business market, the dynamics totally change. You have to build apps which are an integral part of running a business, not just "free" nice to haves, otherwise you will need never get widespread adoptance. Businesses by their very nature are far less forgiving of problems and as such would prefer to pay to ensure adequate quality,reliability and support are in place for any products they choose to use in their business.

Technical Support for business with SLAs in place does not currently exist at Google.
This got me thinking about the Salesforce.com/Google Apps colloboration. This is a pretty smart move by Google. I have to think this would benefit Google more than Salesforce.com though. Google partners with a company with huge credibility in the business world and they also get to leverage the infrastructure for training and support of customers that Salesforce.com have in place. In a way, Google is outsourcing these functions to Salesforce.com.

This is all good for customers who are using Salesforce.com and Google Apps, but what about the others who don't use Salesforce.com but want to use Google Apps with agreed upon SLA's and support?

Its my guess though that Google is not going to setup huge Support and Client Service Departments, I think they will continue with outsourcing this part of the business and utilizing business partners.

Salesforce.com Data Centers are also more focused on running business apps with high percentage uptimes and SLA's in place. I am not sure how Google's distributed server farms will handle business applications at guaranteed Service levels.

Google are certainly big enough to make it in the Business Market, but its not going to be a quick win.