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Q&A: Google's Jonathan Rochelle Talks Enterprise Strategy

Google Apps group product manager Jonathan Rochelle goes one-on-one with InformationWeek's Paul McDougall at Interop 2012.

What's next for Google Apps, Drive, Chrome, and Google's overall strategy to break Microsoft's stranglehold on the enterprise desktop? Google Apps group product manager Jonathan Rochelle followed up his Interop 2012 keynote speech by sitting down with InformationWeek's Paul McDougall to discuss the road ahead.

IW: How big a player can Google be in the enterprise market?

JR: To be honest, it might be an optimistic view, but I believe we can be the biggest provider [of e-mail and apps] in the enterprise. We're already really large. The problem we've got is that it's secondary to our core business from a financial perspective. We don't have to report the numbers, so we don't. But even today we would be one of the largest enterprise software companies out there. The momentum we have is very large.

IW: You've got a number of point solutions and technologies. How does it all come together in the enterprise?

JR: There's a very strong tie-in between Chrome and Android and the apps business. There's a device angle, if you picture Android and Chrome books, and those things can be remote-managed, remote-wiped; there are all kinds of controls that then cross over into apps where you have control panels that give you control over documents, spreadsheets, mail, contacts. All the things that people use across the corporation. And that ties together with the Google search appliance and search. If someone is doing search across their documents and mail, they can search behind the firewall. So there's a tremendous tie-in.

IW: And you're also rolling out some specialty services?

JR: There [are] some vertical things that are very specific, like the Geode service. It's incredible. What people can do with the map services that are provided to professionals go well beyond what was already available, especially at that cost. So there's a whole stream of things that fit together.

IW: There's no doubt that Google's offerings are growing, but is it tough selling into an enterprise market that's dominated by Windows Server and Exchange on the back end?

JR: It's not necessarily inhibiting. I think the inhibiting factor is the inertia. There are people who want to make this move, but they already have this investment in things. So what happens is when they hit a decision point, that's when they start considering. And that’s why we've got some momentum--because a lot of decision points are due. Do I go to Office 365, do I go to the next Exchange Server, which one of those Microsoft products should I consider, or do I look at what else is out there? In the past, there was nothing there.

That's why I believe we can be the biggest: because I believe we provide a choice, and it's a different way to work. It changes the paradigm of productivity across all those products.

[ Read about Google's self-driving cars, which are now being tested in Nevada. See Google Gets License For Driverless Car. ]

IW: Any plans for your own server product?

JR: That's a great question. Not that I know of right now. But Chromium as an operating system is not infeasible.

IW: Microsoft responded to Google Apps with Office 365. How does that impact you?

JR: We started in the cloud; for us it changed the way people work. I think for them it's more of a placeholder to say, "Oh, and you can get that cloud stuff too." Because with them, you do still commit to the desktop. That's where we differ. We don't actually think you should be committed to the desktop. We don't think it's necessary, and it alters in a negative way those productivity gains.

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