Will Zoho Be the Surprise Winner in the Cloud Computing Race?

With all the talk of Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM, Amazon and other major companies, it might be easy to forget about Zoho—but that would be a big mistake. The small, private company offers online email, spreadsheets and processors, much like one of the giants in cloud computing, Google, and is steadily showing it shouldn’t be discounted!

Based in Pleasanton, Calif., Zoho has never accepted bank loans or venture capital yet shows revenue of over $50 million a year. While Zoho has data center and networking management tools, its fastest-growing operation is its online productivity suite, according to Zoho’s chief executive, Sridhar Vembu. The company’s position suggests that there may be a spot for Zoho among online productivity application markets seemingly dominated by a few major companies. Vembu recently told the New York Times, “For now, the wholesale shift to the Web really creates opportunities for smaller companies like us.” And he may very well be right.

Zoho has 19 online productivity and collaboration applications (including invoicing, product management and customer relationship management), thus Zoho and Microsoft only overlap with five offerings. Zoho’s focus remains on the business market, with half of the company’s distribution through partners integrating Zoho’s products into their offerings. For example, Box.net, a service for storing, backing up and sharing documents, uses Zoho as an editing tool for uploaded documents. Most of Zoho’s partners are web-based services, showing that cheap, web-based software permits these business mash-ups to occur—while traditional software would make it nearly impossible. “Today, in the cloud model, this kind of integration is economical,” explains Vembu to the New York Times.

According to Vembu, most paying customers using Zoho’s hosted applications from its website (with prices ranging from free to just $25 per month, varying on features and services) are small businesses with anywhere from 40 to 200 employees. As evidence for the transition into the cloud, the chief executive of Zoho points to the Splashtop software created by DeviceVM, a start-up company. Dell, Asus and Hewlett-Packard reportedly plan on loading Splashtop, software able to be installed directly into a PCs hardware (thus completely doing without the operating system) on some of their PCs. “It is tailor-made for us. You go right into the browser,” says Vembu, clearly pleased at the evidence that smaller companies like Zoho are making leeway in the field of cloud computing.

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    • Rich
    • January 15th, 2010

    Totally agree. Zoho’s biz apps are great! Use them everyday.

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