While uptime is important, Google's success in the business world will depend on whether it can continue to work as closely with other businesses as it's apparently working with its early adopters, so that when -- not if -- relatively brief outages occur, businesses don’t feel deserted. "It's vital that this application suite is available to our employees, and we're confident Google understands this," said Johnson Diversey's Goldman.
Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has begun moving off of a legacy e-mail system and on to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), a Gmail competitor, which includes monthly per-seat subscriptions to Exchange email and SharePoint collaboration software hosted in a Microsoft data center. All of the company's 115,000 employees are expected to be online by the end of 2010.
CIO Bill Louv doesn't question the big SaaS providers' technical and data center abilities. "There's no way I can run email better than Google or Microsoft," Louv said. "A 100,000-user IT shop isn't going to outperform a company that runs collaborative tools for millions and millions of people."
More importantly, Louv says, is that Microsoft has given him every indication that it takes its fledgling SaaS business seriously. "How long can Microsoft's online service be successful if they aren't known for their reliability, high performance, and integrity?" he said.
Google, meanwhile, seems to be maturing in its approach to Google Apps outages. It also had outages in February and May, and intensified communication efforts with each new one. Whether Google thrives in the enterprise will not depend so much on the occasional blip in service, but how it reacts to them.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on why businesses shouldn't shrug off Google's upcoming Chrome OS. Download the report here (registration required).
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