Are Office Automation Applications SaaS-Able? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
4/12/2007
09:14 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
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Are Office Automation Applications SaaS-Able?

I noted back in February the release of the enterprise version of Google Apps hosted services for businesses... Google Apps Premier Edition costs $50 per user, per year and includes around-the-clock telephone support, 10GB of storage, and guaranteed uptime... This is, in essence, the promise of network computing, all the rage back in 1996, but it never took off.

I noted back in February the release of the enterprise version of the Google Apps hosted services for businesses. While many wrote about it, the best description is here on Cnet.

"Google plans to launch… a subscription-based version of its Google Apps hosted services for businesses, which offers more storage and customer support than the free, ad-supported version. The Google Apps products, previously called Google Apps for Your Domain, also now include Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which combines online word processing and spreadsheets, and they will support Gmail on BlackBerry devices."Google Apps Premier Edition costs $50 per user, per year, and includes:

• Around-the-clock telephone support and 10GB of storage per user compared with 2GB. • Guarantee of 99.9 percent uptime for Gmail and application programming interfaces that businesses can use to migrate data. • Enable single sign-on and the ability to do integration.

We've been here before, if you may remember. This is, in essence, the promise of network computing, all the rage back in 1996, but it never took off as a concept. The stuff was just not cooked enough, and the model was just too different.

What's clear here is that Google, to no one's surprise, has its sites set on the Microsoft domination of office automation with its Office-based products. Indeed, I'm seeing more and more Google Apps, typically the free ones, that are leveraged by the rank and file out there. However, is SaaS and office automation a comfortable fit?

Truth be told we have certain advantages when leveraging SaaS-delivered office automation applications, including the ability to exploit the shared community aspect of the Internet, such as automatically finding quotes from other blogs, as you type your own, relating to the subject at hand. Or, the ability to use many computers to support your virtual office world of documents, spreadsheets and e-mail…your user ID and password are the only requirements if you have any Internet-connected PC.

I find myself using Google apps from time to time, when working on computers where Office is not installed. I can e-mail, write a document, use a spreadsheet and calendar without having to shell out $300 bucks for an Office license.

Both Microsoft and Google are working from different directions. Microsoft is working from the PC out to the Web, where Google is working from the Web, only touching the PC when needed. The question is, which model will win out in the long run?

The answer could be found in the emerging patterns of use. While just four years ago it was unheard of to provide office automation applications over the Web, today the bandwidth is there, it's accepted by many as a legitimate and usable platform, rich internet application (RIA) technology, such as AJAX, is around now, and to Google's credit, the things are easy to use and darn sexy. This could very well be the mother of all SaaS applications, if you ask me.

Application integration and service oriented architecture expert David Linthicum heads the product development, implementation and strategy consulting firm The Linthicum Group. Write him at [email protected].I noted back in February the release of the enterprise version of Google Apps hosted services for businesses... Google Apps Premier Edition costs $50 per user, per year and includes around-the-clock telephone support, 10GB of storage, and guaranteed uptime... This is, in essence, the promise of network computing, all the rage back in 1996, but it never took off.

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