Global CIO: As Google And Microsoft Slug It Out, CIOs Come Out On Top
Google Docs versus Office Online marks only the beginning of what will become very serious competition for CIOs' hearts and wallets.
The city of Los Angeles does have a mandate: It's moving 30,000 employees to Google Gmail and letting them keep Office, but it won't upgrade them for 18 months. People are expected to try Docs and will have to justify getting upgraded on Office. The city's ROI studies predict that about 80% of staff will be able to use Google Docs and just 20% will keep Office.
Make no mistake: Office is entrenched, easy to use, and generally well liked, so Google faces a tough battle. "As scary as people thought my idea of giving them a new e-mail system was, taking Office away was earth shattering," says Kevin Crawford, L.A.'s assistant general manager, which is why he's easing Docs in over 18 months.
Yes indeed—Google faces a tough battle because not only is Office entrenched, easy to use, and generally well liked, but its reawakened parent now seems to realize how perilously close its extended semi-hibernation placed it and its offspring to mortal danger.
And Microsoft's not just fully awake but also energized and aggressive and, as per Ballmer, "all in" on cloud computing. This isn't one of the half-hearted or piddling efforts that Microsoft dabbled in over the past several years but an impressive and powerful suite of online products that hold great potential for helping CIOs break away from total dependence on old platforms as well as old purchase models that suck up vast chunks of precious IT budgets.
Azure in its various forms—including Windows and SQL—can leverage Microsoft's massive installed base with products that, Microsoft swears, will be fully compatible with traditional versions. That incumbency has enormous value and inertia, even against incursions from a competitor with Google's technical prowess and its superlative brand power.
No doubt we'll be hearing in the days to come about the big CIO-level cloud-computing event Google hosted yesterday called Atmosphere, featuring Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Amazon CTO and VP Werner Vogels, and no doubt Google will be stepping up its efforts to woo and win more enterprise accounts. Google's president for the enterprise sector, Dave Girouard, will surely go at Microsoft every bit as vigorously as Microsoft will hammer at Google.
As for the outcome, one thing is certain: among the winners will be CIOs, who'll gain all the benefits of intense competition among two well-heeled and aggressive competitors vying to help those CIOs sever all ties to 20th-century models and approaches.