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9/26/2012
01:45 PM
John McGreavy
John McGreavy
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Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed

You have great products and are a proven innovator, but it will take changes in thinking to conquer the enterprise.

Google is in the house! And it's staying for dinner. That was the message from Google Enterprise executives Michael Lock and Clay Bavor as they concluded their discussion with an audience of customers and potential customers at the recent InformationWeek 500 Conference.

How fortunate for me, I thought sarcastically throughout their presentation.

Google is important. I know. Google and Apple will become a critical part of our IT in the next few years. At some point in the not-too-distant future, most of our employees will access enterprise data from devices that don't run Windows. But it's going to be a bumpy ride.

It took self-discipline to look past the Google speakers' pompous attitude. I'm trying to be positive, but their repeated references to the fact that Google's consumer products pay for the vendor's enterprise product development--so Google simply can't lose in the enterprise--got under my skin.

It's all in the numbers for Google. Hundreds of millions of users can't be wrong. It signs up people for its software tools, and then it figures out how to make money. Enterprises can take it or leave it, and Google knows we will take it, the execs all but suggested.

I'm not so sure. While we're integrating consumer technology into our business, we also deliver many purpose-built systems to provide a competitive business edge. We depend on reliable, focused vendor support. We need to understand future product direction. We need partners that don't chase shiny new things for a living and understand the discipline of delivering shareholder value through risk-managed innovation and execution. (SAP, listen up.)

I don't think Google gets this point at all. Another CIO attendee at the conference questioned Google about its lack of a product road map. Bavor, Google Enterprise's head of product management, replied with some effervescent, hand-waving description of Google's process for creating incredible products of all sorts that increase productivity and generate a fabulous (or was it amazing?) experience.

And then Lock, the Google Enterprise VP, attempted to explain the vendor's development cycle. He explained that Google can't share much more than a six-month vision because it doesn't know what it will be doing beyond that time frame.

That's unsettling for an enterprise CIO. I could be part of the in crowd and say that I get it. But I'm not sure I do. It can take me six months to socialize (my favorite new buzzword) an innovation, and another six to implement it. Google, is that product going to be around after six months, or replaced?

The cynics will tell me I need to be a more nimble innovator and implement mass organizational change in a month or two. Fortunately for my employer, I realize the nonsense in this notion. Business change is risky.

Am I starting to sound like one of those "MBA types" InformationWeek contributor Jonathan Feldman referred to in a recent column on this same Google presentation? Jonathan asked if we MBA types really need a five-year road map to use Google's Hangouts for staff meetings.

That's stretching the point. Videoconferencing has been around for a while. Vendors chasing the consumer market, most notably Skype (now part of Microsoft), lowered the cost of and barrier to entry. However, consumer products such as Hangouts do little to address the network load implications and the change management required to truly engage an entire organization in videoconferencing. I could ignore the cultural reality and blame those who don't "get it" for resisting change, but marginalizing employees has ugly consequences.

I will take what I can get from Google, but I see a gap between what I need and what it promises. This is why my company recently switched from Google to Microsoft as the map provider for our customer portal. Microsoft was simply more enterprise-friendly.

Google, I know you don't care. As a midsize enterprise, we aren't even a pixel on your radar screen. I hope some larger enterprises are able to help you pave this road for the rest of us.

Google, you have some great products. You have market share, cash, and the ability to innovate. You also have the opportunity to change the world in many other ways, but it will take some adjustment in thinking and approach to conquer the enterprise. An attitude adjustment wouldn't be a bad start.

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PxJ
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PxJ,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/15/2012 | 3:32:40 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
Funny, I was going to compare them to Apple too. Odd how everyone seems to "buy it" from Apple and bend over backward to support them. As far as I know, Apple doesn't have any enterprise support but that hasn't stopped everyone from using iPhones, iPads, and Macs, no matter what problems they cause in an enterprise infrastructure.
dianejhuff
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dianejhuff,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2012 | 1:12:39 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
As a company that moved to Google to replace our customer portal collaboration (email, shared media, meeting spaces) after two years, we are happily returning to an Exchange infrastructure. Although Google truly believes that it is enterprise worthy, I can assure you, it is not. Google lacks the collaborative and support infrastructure to maintain a large enterprise group. They worked well with a small group of users and as a consumer product, they are second to none. But for our customers, their "collaboration" features were poor, their support was weak and their shared spaces rolled to three different names and products in the 3 years we were customers. I love my Android phone, but I'll stick with Microsoft for my enterprise services.
PaulRLees
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PaulRLees,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2012 | 3:39:35 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
John McGreavy does seem to have completely missed the point. Google is not trying to replace SAP or the systems that currently give businesses a "cutting edge". What Google are doing is removing the mundane, Email, Calendar, Address Books etc, while also allowing individuals to use the tools (Google Docs, Google Drive etc) they want to use, and often are using without IT.

The aim of any CIO will be to take commodity applications, move them to the Cloud and then invest resource on real business benefit applications, which may or may not be in the Cloud. But Google's App Engine and CloudCompute are a great place to look.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
10/6/2012 | 1:46:08 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
Google's offerings are interesting for enterprises, but in the past they were too expensive to provide a reasonable ROI. Other providers are less expensive and while those deliver less than Google does it is still enough to serve the business interests. Google needs to figure out what enterprise needs and what it is willing to pay for it in the long term and then stick to the price structure for a long time. We implemented Google services and used them successfully until Google jacked up the prices and we were forced to find a different provider. After we spend considerable amount of time and effort to rework for the alternatives Google dropped the prices to below what we are paying now, but the volatility of Google practices made us decide not to switch back. Google fooled us once and it will take a lot for them to convince us to come back, especially a written guarantee to stop being stupid.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2012 | 1:31:21 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
Google is, when you get right down to it, just an ad purveyor. Anything else they do is simply to amplify their ad business. This is not a model that any sane enterprise should hang their hat on. There needs to be predictability, continuity, and longevity to the critical IT functions. Sure, there will always be the latest "cool tool" and they should be used if they make sense. However, without some kind of guarantee of what can be expected for lifetime support, you cannot reliably build a long term business function around it.

Microsoft takes enterprise seriously. Period. They provide products and support that you can rely on day in and day out. And, you always get an EOL date and a migration path so you have time to plan for upcoming changes. They are constantly bringing new products to market that you can choose to upgrade to... or not. Your choice. At least you are not forced to make a quick decision. Legacy support is a good thing in business.

It's all about getting maximum benefit while managing risk.
SMARIEN970
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SMARIEN970,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2012 | 7:00:49 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
I'd vote Outlook over Gmail any day. For enterprise or personal email.
MrCynical
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MrCynical,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2012 | 6:15:52 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
It amazes me how the fanboys come out of the woodwork whenever anyone points out valid criticisms against the bandwagon they've jumped on.

Your responses don't come with an enterprise mindset -- and that's a shame. There is much more to getting the latest 'innovation' the end-users than a 3 to 6 month roll out. How about support? How about maintenance? How about upgrades? Oh wait, we don't have to care because Google says so. Google is SaaS? Upgrades are seamless and issue free to the end user? Right. Again, Google says so.

And what if they decide to drop this 'innovation' because they can't squeeze the money they thought they could from it? I guess we're not supposed to care again. I'm sure they will tell us what to move to.

If you were to take your note seriously, you would assume that Google makes exactly one product -- and you compare that to options from Microsoft. Talk about apples to pumpkins... but I digress.

We provide all of the things you mention at our company to our end users (execpt we don't have a mailbox limit at all). And guess what?, none of it is via Google (gasp). Having a 3-5 year roadmap is essential. Having our business units and users work with us is essential. While I can't predict what the world is going to look like in that time, I can dang well provide a direction. Road maps are not written in stone, they are a guide for the entire organization to reach the goals of the business. For the Jonathan Feldman's of the world who think that we should just take every latest fad and run with it to prove we are 'agile IT', good luck to you.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2012 | 2:19:29 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
This sounds more like they are trying to emulate Apple's "magical" marketing techniques. Maybe they are right and the younger IT folks will buy into it. I, for one, will stick with Microsoft. Google is riding the tech media wave of "Microsoft will be obsolete in 2 years" which is complete BS. Maybe it works for some people, good for them. I can tell you Google won't be part of our systems.
JoeTierney
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JoeTierney,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2012 | 2:50:27 AM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
"An attitude adjustment wouldn't be a bad start." Perhaps you should follow your own advice.

10 person and 1-on-1 video conferencing have been around for a long time. Have you implemented them? Probably not. Can they use their smartphones and iPads or Android tablets to video conference and screen share? Probably not. Do you provide them 25 GB of email storage so they don't have to worry about which messages to delete to free up space? Probably not. Can they search those 25 gigs in a second or two for anything they want across any PC, smartphone or tablet? Probably not.

"we also deliver many purpose-built systems to provide a competitive business edge." and that's awesome - that's perfect, that's the business of IT. But consumerization rules the commodity applications - email, chat, calendaring, video conferencing, collaboration, etc. Google rules the consumerization of enterprise apps.

Microsoft's supporting/running/building BPOS dedicated (ASP Exchange 2007), BPOS standard (multi-instance Exchange 2007), Office 365 dedicated (ASP Exchange 2010), Office 365 standard (multi-instance Exchange 2010), Exchange 2003 on-prem, Exchange 2007 on-prem, Exchange 2010 on-prem, Exchange 2013 on-prem.

Google's running Gmail. And leveraging the same massive infrastructure as the Google.com search engine, the world's most reliable and mobile multitenant SaaS application. An investment in Google's core strategic asset is an investment in Gmail.

Workers shouldn't be marginalized. Why don't you poll them and see if they like Outlook or Gmail better? You might be surprised.

If you're selecting your enterprise vendors for their lack of smug executives I assume you're leveraging paper and pencils for most of your work.

Call Umzuzu. Call Cloud Sherpas. Call Appirio. We all care. A month or two to roll out system wide innovation in a billion dollar company? Probably not. 3 to 6 months? No question.
Don..112
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Don..112,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/3/2012 | 6:04:36 PM
re: Google Enterprise, I'm Not Impressed
Immediate reaction to John McGreavy's statement, "This is why my company recently switched from Google to Microsoft as the map provider for our customer portal. Microsoft was simply more enterprise-friendly."
One could say Google observed Microsoft's past arrogant behaviors in breaking into markets and is using many of the same tactics. May you somehow avoid lock-in with Microsoft.
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