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8/27/2007
09:06 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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Study Slams Google's SaaS-Delivered Office Automation

This article reports on a new Burton Group study warding larger enterprises away from Google's SaaS-delivered office automation solution: "'At just $50 a year per user, Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) hosted office productivity suite could be one of the cheapest mistakes a large business makes.' That's one of the conclusions of a study by the Burton Group, which said GAPE... lacks strong regulatory compliance features and poor administrative tools for user accounts.

In this article in Computerworld, the author cites a new Burton Group study warning larger enterprises away from the new, and cheap, SaaS-delivered Google office automation solution. "'At just $50 a year per user, Google Inc.'s Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) hosted office productivity suite could be one of the cheapest mistakes a large business makes.' That's one of the conclusions of a study by the Burton Group, which said GAPE offers lots of good value for business users, but lacks strong regulatory compliance features and poor administrative tools for user accounts. That means a quick deployment in a large business could be a 'career-limiting move' for IT staffers who advocate its use without knowing of its shortcomings."

The core issue is security, according to the report.

"While usability is generally good - except for users who build complex spreadsheets - critical data security and regulatory compliance features are missing…"While I agree that security is indeed lacking when considering SaaS-delivered office automation, I also believe this is game-changing technology that has a bright future. As to the findings in the survey, I don't see the uptake in SaaS-delivered office automation, like GAPE, as something that will be attractive to larger enterprises right away. Instead, small businesses will drive the market, opting to pay $50 a year, versus upgrading to Office 2007, at, let's just say… more than $50. From there, Google can make the offer more appealing and thus get that whole Google viral effect going, or, users will quickly return to MS Office, or move to another provider. I think the former is more likely to be true, with word of mouth being the best advertising for this kind of technology. Moreover, the demand will drive from the bottom up. Those using computers at home will find that GAPE is a much more cost effective and desirable solution for personal applications and will use GAPE for business purposes as well. Thus, the enterprises could find thousands of GAPE users within the enterprise and a defacto mandate for its use. There are some clear advantages here. The right integration with the Web means that research and references are much easier to find and document. Tight integration with e-mail and other applications is a clear benefit as well. Also, you're always working with the best version of the software, without having to suffer through repeated downloads. Finally, the prices should drop over time, with many SaaS-delivered office automation service providers looking to offer advertisement-driven free versions, for those who find the $50 fee per year too steep.

Let's face it; despite negative press, this stuff is here to stay and will change the game.

Application integration and service oriented architecture expert David Linthicum heads the product development, implementation and strategy consulting firm The Linthicum Group. Write him at david@linthicumgroup.com.This article reports on a new Burton Group study warding larger enterprises away from Google's SaaS-delivered office automation solution: "'At just $50 a year per user, Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) hosted office productivity suite could be one of the cheapest mistakes a large business makes.' That's one of the conclusions of a study by the Burton Group, which said GAPE... lacks strong regulatory compliance features and poor administrative tools for user accounts.

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