Posts Tagged ‘ Google ’

Microsoft and IBM Compete for Space in the Cloud as Google Apps Turns 3

Google may have been celebrating the third birthday of Google Apps Premier Edition on February 22, but Microsoft and IBM want a piece of the cake, errr cloud, too. EWeek.com reports that Google is trying to dislodge legacy on-premises installations from Microsoft and IBM while simultaneously fending off SaaS solutions from said companies. In addition, Google has to fend off offerings from Cisco Systems and startups like Zoho and MinTouch, to name a few. Despite the up-and-comers, Google, Microsoft and IBM are the main three companies competing for pre-eminence in the market for cloud collaborative software.

Three year ago, Google launched its Google Apps Premier Edition, marking a bold gamble on the future of collaborative software. Back then, and perhaps even still, the collaborative software market was controlled by Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft and IBM have over 650 million customers for their Microsoft ® Office, Sharepoint and IBM Lotus suite combined. These suits are licensed as “on-premises” software which customers install and maintain on their own servers.

When Google launched Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE), it served as a departure from this on-premises model by offering collaboration software hosted on Google’s servers and delivered via the Web. We now know this method as cloud computing.

Until the introduction of GAPE, Google Apps was available in a free standard edition (which included Gmail, Google Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software), but with GAPE Google meant to make a profit. For just $50 per user per year, companies could provide their knowledge workers with GAPE, which featured the aforementioned apps as well as additional storage, security and, most importantly, 24/7 support.

Google Apps now has over two million business customers–of all shapes and sizes–and is designed to appeal to both small companies desiring low-cost collaboration software but are lacking the resources to manage it and large enterprises desiring to eliminate the cost of managing collaboration applications on their own. At the time, Microsoft and IBM were not aggressively exploring this new cloud approach.

Fast-forward to 2009. Microsoft and IBM had released hosted collaboration solutions (Microsoft ® Business Productivity Office Suite and LotusLive respectively) to keep Google Apps from being lonely in the cloud.

On the third birthday of GAPE, Google has its work cut out for it. Google is trying to dislodge legacy on-premises installations from Microsoft and IBM while fending of SaaS solutions from Microsoft, IBM, Zoho, Mindtouch and the list goes on.

Dave Girouard, Google Enterprise President, states that while Google spent 2007 and 2008 debating the benefits of the cloud, the release of Microsoft and IBM products validated the market. EWeek.com quotes Girouard as saying, “We now have all major competitors in our industry in full agreement that the cloud is worth going to. We view this as a good thing. If you have all of the major vendors suggesting you look at the cloud, the consideration of our solutions is going to rise dramatically.”

For his part, Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft Online Services, thinks that there is room for everyone in the cloud because customer needs vary by perspective. Said Markezich to EWeek.com, “Customers are all in different situations. Whether a customer wants to go 100 percent to the cloud or if they want to go to the cloud in a measured approach in a period of years, we want to make sure we can bet on Microsoft to serve their needs. No one else has credible services that are adopted by some of the larger companies in the world.”

Microsoft’s counter to Google Apps is Microsoft’s ® Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). It includes Microsoft ® Exchange Online with Microsoft ® Exchange Hosted Filtering, Microsoft ® SharePoint Online, Microsoft ® Office Communications Online and Microsoft ® Office Living Meeting. Microsoft also offers the Business Productivity Online Deskless Worker Suite (which includes Exchange Online Deskless Worker for email, calendars and global address lists, antivirus and anti-spam filters) and Microsoft ® Outlook Web Access Light (for access to company email) for companies with either tighter budgets or those in need of lower cost email and collaboration software. Sharepoint Online Deskless Worker provides easy access to SharePoint portals, team sites and search functionality.

The standard version of BPOS costs $1 user per month or $120 per user per year while BPOS Deskless Worker Suite is $4 per user per month or $36 per user per year. Users may also license single apps as stand-alone services from $2 to $5 per user per month, which serves as a departure from Google’s one-price-for-the-year GAPE package.

The same code base is used by Microsoft for its BPOS package, on-premises versions of Exchange and SharePoint, thus making legacy customers’ transition into the cloud easier should they decide to migrate to BPOS. Microsoft thinks that this increases the likelihood that customers will remain with Microsoft rather than switching to Google Apps or IBM Lotus.

At Lotusphere 2008, IBM offered a hint at its cloud computing goals with Bluehouse, a SaaS extranet targeted toward small- to mid-size business. The product evolved as LotusLive Engage, a general business collaboration solution with social networking capabilities from IBM’s LotusLive Connections suite, at Lotusphere 2009. In the later half of 2009, the company sought to fill the void left open by the absence of email, by introducing the company’s hosted email solution LotusLive iNotes. iNotes costs $3 per user per month and $36 per user per year. Additionally, IBM offers LotusLive Connections, a hosted social networking solution, as well as the aforementioned LotusLive Engage.

Vice president of online collaboration for IBM Sean Pouelly told EWeek.com that IBM is banking on companies using email to adopt their social networking services saying, “It’s unusual that they just buy one of the services.” Currently over 18 million paid seats use hosted versions of IBM’s Lotus software.

IBM’s efforts in the cloud began to really get attention when the company scored Panasonic as a customer late last year. In its first year of implementing LotusLive iNotes, the consumer electronics maker plans on migrating over 100,000 users from Lotus Notes, Exchange and Panasonic’s proprietary email solution to LotusLive.

When it comes down to it, customers have different reasons for choosing Google, Microsoft or IBM. All three companies have major plans for 2010, and each company has a competitive edge. For more information regarding Cloud Computing please visit Nubifer.com.

Google’s Plans on Expanding Its Cloud Offerings for 2010

After a few years spent plugging away in the cloud computing market, hosting its Google Apps collaboration programs for business and consumers, Google is embracing cloud computing even more in 2010. According to Google’s vice president of product management Bradley Horowitz, the company plans on focusing on Google Voice and cloud computing this year. Industry prognosticators predict that the Gizmo5 assets will boost the Google Voice phone management application and Google will be competing with IBM, Microsoft and Cisco Systems for market share in hosted applications.

According to one Google executive, we haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to Google Voice.  A phone management application which lets users route calls to all of their phones from one distinct number, Google Voice features tools like automatic voicemail transcription, conference calling, SMS support and low-cost international calling. Oh, and did we mention it’s free? That might explain why there are over 1.4 million users. While 1.4 million is a mere fraction of the 500 million people around the globe using Skype, that is about to change. Currently, Google Voice users are required to have a phone carrier to use the service, something no required by the popular VOIP all Skype, but in 2010 that is going to change.

In November 2009 Google acquired Gizmo5. The maker of so-called softphone software will allow Google Voice to operate similarly to Skype, by letting users place calls via the Internet from one PC to another or even from a PC to a mobile phone or landline. Although Horowitz, who jumped ship from Yahoo two years ago and currently oversees Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa and other Google Apps, has yet to outline specifics for how exactly Google will implement Gizmo5 with Google Voice, he appeared elated with the move during a recent interview with eWeek.com.

During the interview, Horowitz described the goal of the newly-improved Google Phone as a way to seamlessly combine telephony communication as it currently resides separate from user’s experience on the Web. According to Horowitz, Google sees essentially all computing services, for work and for play, funneling through the Web in the future.

Although over two million businesses have signed up for Google Apps, there remains a sizable faction of businesses that are hesitant to embrace the cloud. Web-based social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with over 350 and 60 million users respectively, became more and more popular in 2009, which shows an increasing trend towards accepting the cloud. Essentially, worries associated with cloud computing began to dissipate in 2009, which means there is a lot to look forward to for cloud computing in 2010.

One way that Google made cloud computing more accessible last year was by showcasing the Data Liberation Front to let users export data created within users’ Google Apps to apps outside of Google’s realm. Additionally, Google launched the Google Dashboard, which lets users see exactly how much data they were creating within Google to host. Horowitz believes that Google’s trust-taking measures will pay off.

Google won’t be the only company moving deeper into cloud computing, as a whole batch of rival companies have plans to forge ahead and mark new territory in 2010. Customers and businesses will gain from the competition within cloud computing as the rivalry between companies will mean more choices for everyone. For more information on Google Apps Migration, please visit Nubifer.com.

Google’s Power Play

Seeking to keep its large data centers supplied with power, Google’s Google Energy subsidiary has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the right to purchase and re-sell electricity to consumers. A vast amount of electricity is required for Google’s cloud computing model, which includes its Google Apps collaboration applications and its popular search engine, and by becoming a player in the energy game Google Energy feels it will be able to contain the cost of energy for Google at the very least.

Google is all too aware of its enormous consumption of power, as the leading search provider with the desire to expand its purview online via other Web services. Google Energy’s request to buy and resell electricity to consumers was made on December 23, 2009 and asked to be approved by February 23, 2010. eWeek.com obtained the subsidiary’s application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Google’s request is a common one among companies that consume a tremendous amount of power, such as Safeway grocery store chains and Wal-Mart retail, to name a few.

Google has thousands of inexpensive, thin rack-mount computers and other servers stashed in large facilities scattered across the globe. Working in parallel, these servers route search engine requests and queries for data from the company’s Google Apps to the next available computers and send the data back to consumers’ PCs and mobile devices. A large amount of energy, and thus a large sum of money, is required for the cloud computing model, and in its application to FERC Google stated that by playing the energy game it can “contain and manage the cost of energy for Google.”

In a statement to eWeek.com, a Google spokesperson said, “Google is interested in procuring more renewable energy as part of our carbon neutrality commitment, and the ability to buy and sell energy on the wholesale market could give us more flexibility in doing so. We made this filing so we can have more flexibility in producing power for Google’s own operations, including our data centers. This FERC authority would improve our ability to hedge out purchases of energy and incorporate renewable into our energy portfolio.”

Google Energy guru Bill Weihl described the company’s objective in layman’s terms during a January 7 interview with the New York Times. “One [motivation] is that we use a moderate amount of energy ourselves: we have a lot of servers, and we have 22,000 employees around the world with office buildings that consume a lot of energy. So we use energy and we care about the cost of that, we care about the environmental impact of it, and we care about the reliability of it,” said the Google Energy czar.

While some might argue that Google’s consumption of power is far more than “moderate,” due to its rather large cloud computing footprint, there are companies out there that consume more energy and are not taking measures to account for it. Also during his interview with the Times, Weihl described Google’s intentions to profit from alternative energy, saying, “We’d be delighted if some of this stuff actually made money, obviously; it is not our goal not to make money. All else being equal, we’d like to makes as much money as we can, but the principle goal is to have a big impact for good.”

Google has invested about $45 million in alternative energy over the past few years, with some of that money going toward eSolar and BrightSource. (Both companies are building towers that capture sunlight to be used as a power source.) Thus while Google’s power plans can be deems capitalistic, they are nonetheless altruistic as well. For mroe information on Google’s Cloud offerings, contact a Nubifer representative today.

Get Your Java with Google App Engine

Google’s App Engine service has embraced Java’s programming language. The most requested feature for App Engine since its exception, Java support is currently in “testing mode,” although Google eventually plans on bringing GAE’s Java tools up to speed with its current Python support.

As Google’s service for hosting scalable and flexible web applications, App Engine is synonymous with cloud computing for Google. Java is one of the most frequently-used languages for coding applications on the web, and by adding Java Google is filling a major break in its cloud services plan. Also by adding Java, Google is catching up with one if its fiercest competitors in cloud computing, Amazon. Amazon’s Web Services platform has provided support for Java virtual machines for some time now.

In addition, Java support also allows for the possibility of making App Engine a means of running applications for Google’s Android mobile platform. Although no plans for Google’s Android GAW apps have not been outlined as of yet, it appears as if Google is preparing for an effortless and quick way to develop for Android, as Java is available on the device as well as the server.

With the addition of Java support to Google App Engine, other programming languages such as JavaScript, Ruby and maybe Scala, can run on Java virtual machines as well. The possibility of JRuby support or support for other JVM languages arriving any time in the near future, however, is unlikely due to the experimental status of Java.

Those wishing to play around with Google App Engine’s new Java support can add their name to the list on the sign up page; the first 10,000 developers will be rewarded with a spot in the testing group.

Along with Java support, the latest update for Google App Engine includes support for cron jobs which enables programmers to easily schedule recurring tasks such as weekly reports. The Secure Data Connector is another new feature; the Secure Data Connector lets Google App Engine access data behind a firewall. Thirdly, there is a new database import tool; the database import too makes it easier to transport large amounts of data into App Engine.

In summary, by embracing the programming language of Java, Google is filling a gap in its cloud services plan and catching up with competitors like Amazon. For more information, please visit nubifer.com.

Thoughts on Google Chrome OS

As a leading cloud computing and SaaS provider, everyone at Nubifer is excited about Google’s new operating system, Chrome. Designed, in Google’s words, for “people who live on the web,” (like us!) Google’s Chrome browser launched in late 2008 and now an extension of Google Chrome—the Google Chrome Operating System—has arrived. Google demonstrated its open source PC operating system on Nov. 19 and revealed that its code will be open-sourced later this year, with netbooks running Google Chrome OS available for consumers as early as the second half of 2010.

Citing speed, simplicity and security as key features, Google Chrome OS is designed as a modified browser which allows netbooks to carry out everyday computing with web-based applications. Google Chrome OS basically urges consumers to abandon the computing experience that they are used to in favor of one that exists entirely in the cloud (albeit Google’s cloud), which, you have to admit, is a pretty enticing offer. The obvious benefits of the Google Chrome OS are saving money (cloud storage replaces pricey external hard-disc drives) and gaining security (thanks to Google’s monitoring for malware in Chrome OS apps).

While may comparisons have been made between Google Chrome OS and Android (admittedly they do overlap somewhat), Chrome is designed for those who spend the majority of their time on the web, and is thus being created to power computers of varying size, while Android was designed to work across devices ranging from netbooks to cell phones. Google Chrome OS will run on x86 and ARM chips and Google is currently teaming up with several OEMs to offer multiple netbooks in 2010. The foundation of Google Chrome is this: Google Chrome runs within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. The web is the platform for application developers, with new applications able to be written using already-in-place web technologies and existing web-based applications being able to work automatically.

Five benefits of using Google Chrome OS are laid out by Wired.com: Cost, Speed, Compatibility, Portability and New Applications. While netbooks are inexpensive, users often fork out a sizable chunk of change for a Windows license, but using Google’s small, fast-booting platform allows for this cost to be greatly downsized. Those with Linux versions of netbooks also ready know that they cost less than $50 on average and that is due to a Microsoft tax; because Chrome Os is based on Linux it would mostly likely be free. As for speed, Chrome OS is created to run on low-powered Atom and ARM processors, with Google promising boot times measured in mere seconds.

Drivers have caused major problems for those using an OS other than Windows XP on a netbook, but there is a chance that Google may devise an OS able to be downloaded, unloaded onto any machine and ready to use—all without being designed specifically for different netbook models. And now we come to portability, as Chrome allows for all of Google’s services, from Gmail and Google Docs to Picasa, to be built-in and available for offline access using Google Gears. Thus users won’t have to worry about not having data available when not connected to the Internet. As for new applications, it remains unclear whether Google will buy open-source options like the Firefox-based Songbird music player (which has the ability to sync with an iPod and currently runs on some Linux flavors) or if it will create its own.

Another company, Phoenix Technologies, is also offering an operating system, called HyperSpace. Instead of serving as a substitution for Windows, HyperSpace is an optional, complementary (notice it’s spelled with an “e,” not an “i”) mini OS which is already featured on some netbooks. Running parallel to Windows as an instant-on environment, HyperSpace allows netbooks to perform Internet-based functions, such as browsers, e-mail, multimedia players, etc., without booting into Windows. Phoenix Technologies’ idea is similar to Google’s, but Phoenix is a lesser-known company and is taking different approach at offering the mini OS than Google is with its Chrome OS.

Google’s eventual goal is to produce an OS that mirrors the streamlined, quick and easy characteristics of its individual web products. Google is the first to admit that it has its work cut out for it, but that doesn’t make the possibility of doing away with hard drives once and for all any less exciting for all of us. For more information please visit Nubifer.com.

How Microsoft Windows 7 Changed the Game for Cloud Computing … and Signaled a Wave of Competition Between Microsoft, Google and Others.

On October 22 Microsoft released the successor to Windows Vista, Windows 7, and while excitement for the operating system mounted prior to its release, many are suggesting that its arrival is a sign of the end of computing on personal computers and the beginning of computing solely in the cloud. Existing cloud services like social networking, online games and web-based email are accessible through smart-phones, browsers or other client services, and because of the availability of these services Windows 7 is Microsoft’s fist operating system to include less features.

Although Windows is not in danger of extinction, cloud computing makes its operating systems less important. Other companies are following in Microsoft’s footsteps by launching products with fewer features than even Microsoft 7. In September, Microsoft opened a pair of data centers containing half a million servers between them and subsequently issued a new version of Windows for smart-phones. Perpetually ahead of the curve, Microsoft also launched a platform for developers, the highly publicized Azure, which allows them to write and run cloud services.

In addition to changing the game for Microsoft, the growth of cloud computing also heightens competition between the computer industry. Thus far, advancements in technology have pushed computing power in the opposite direction of central hubs (as seen in the shift from mainframes to minicomputers to PCs), while power is now being inverted back to the center in some ways, with less expensive and more powerful processors and faster networks. Basically, the cloud’s data centers are outsized public mainframes. While this is occurring, the PC is being pushed aside by more compact, wireless devices like netbooks and smart-phones.

The lessened importance of the PC enables companies like Apple, Google and IBM to fill in the gap caused my Microsoft’s former monopoly. There are currently hundreds of firms offering cloud services, and more by the day, but as The Economist points out, Microsoft, Google and Apple are in their own league. Each of the three companies has its own global network of data centers and plans on offering several services while also seeking to dominate the new field by developing new software or devices. The battle between Microsoft, Google and Apple sees each company trying to one-up each other. For example, Google’s free PC operating system, Chrome OS, shows Google’s attempt to catch up to Microsoft, while Microsoft’s recent operating system for smart-phones shows Microsoft’s attempt to catch up with the Apple iPhone as all as Google’s handset operating system, Android. Did you follow all of that?

Comparing Google, Microsoft and Apple

Professor Michael Cusamano of MIT’s Sloan School of Management recently told The Economist that while there are similarities between Google, Apple and Microsoft, they are each unique enough to carve out their own spot in the cloud because they approach the trend towards cloud computing in different ways.

Google is most well known for its search service as well as other web-based applications, and has recently began diversifying, launching Android for phones and Chrome OS. In this way, it can be said that Google has been a prototype for a cloud computing company since its inception in 1998. Google’s main source of revenue is advertising, with the company controlling over 75% of search-related ads in the States (and even more on a global scale). Additionally, Google is seeking to make money from selling services to companies, announcing in October that all 35,000 employees at the pest-control-to-parcel-delivery group Rentokil Initial will be using Google’s services.

While Microsoft is commonly associated with Microsoft Office and Windows, the company’s relations to cloud computing are not as distant as one might think. Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, shows the company’s transition into the cloud, as does its web-based version of Office and the fact that Microsoft now offers many of its business software via online services. Microsoft smartly convinced Yahoo! to merge its search and a portion of its advertising business with Microsoft because consumers expect cloud services to be free, with everything paid for by ads.

As evidenced by the iPhone, the epitome of have-to-have-it, innovative bundles of hard- and software, Apple is largely known for its services outside the cloud. Online offering like the App Store, the iTunes store and MobileMe (a suite of online services), however, show that Apple’s hunger to get a piece of the cloud computing pie is growing by the day. Apple is also currently building what many have suggested is the world’s largest data center (worth a whopping $1 billion) in North Carolina.

While Apple, IBM and Microsoft previously battled for the PC in the late 1980s and early 1990s, cloud computing is an entirely different game. Why? Well, for starters, much of the cloud is based on open standards, making it easier for users to switch providers. Antitrust authorities will play into the rivalry between the companies, and so will other possible contenders, such as Amazon and Facebook, the world’s leading online retailer and social network, respectively (not to mention Zoho and a host of others). An interesting fact thrown to the debate on who will emerge victorious is the fact that all current major contenders in the cloud computing race are American, with Asian and European firms not yet showing up in cloud computing in any major way (although Nokia’s suite of online services, Ovi, is in beginning stages). Visit Nubifer.com for more information.

Google’s Continued Innovation of Technology Evolution

Google has the uncanny ability to introduce non-core disruptive innovations while simultaneously defending and expanding its core, and an analysis of the concepts and framework in Clayton Christensen’s book Seeing What’s Next offers insight into how.

Recently, Google introduced free GPS on the Android phone through a strategy that can be described as “sword and shield.” This latest disruptive innovation seeks to beat a current offering serving the “overshot customers,” i.e. the ones who would stop paying for additional performance improvements that historically had called for price premium. Google essentially entered into the “GPS Market” to serve said overshot customers by using a shield: asymmetric skills and motivation in the form of Android OS, mapping data and a lack of direct revenue expectations. Subsequently, Google transformed its “shield” into a “sword” by disinteremediating the map providers and using a revenue-share agreement to incentivize the carriers.

Examples of “incremental to radical,” to use Christensen’s terms, sustaining innovations in which Google sought out the “undershot customers” are GMail and Google’s core search technology. Frustrated with the products’ limitations, these customers are willing to swap their current product for another better one, should it exist. Web-based email solutions and search engines existed before the Google-introduced ones, but those introduced by Google solved problems that were frustrating users of other products. For example, users relished in GMail’s expansive email quota (compared to the limited quota they faced before) and also enjoyed the better indexing and relevancy algorithms of the Google search engine. Although Microsoft is blatantly targeting Google with Bing, Google appears unruffled and continues to steadily, if somewhat slowly, invest in its sustainable innovation (such as with Caffeine, the next-generation search platform, Gmail labs, social searches, profiles, etc.) to continue to maintain the revenue stream out of its core business.

By spending money on lower-end disruptive innovations and not “cramming” sustaining innovation, Google managed to thrive while most companies are practically destined to fail. The issue between Google’s sustaining and disruptive innovations was even coped with by using this strategy! According to insiders at Google, the GMail team was not used to create Google Wave, a fact unbeknownst to the GMail team. If Google had added wave-like functionality to Gmail, it would have been “cramming” sustaining innovation, while innovating outside of email can potentially serve a variety of both undershot and overshot customers.

So what does this mean for AT&T? Basically, AT&T needs to watch its back and keep an eye on Google! Smartphone revenue is predicted to surpass laptop revenue in 2012, after the number of Smartphone units this year surpassed the number of laptops sold. The current number of subscribers to Comcast exceeds 7 million (eight-fold what it used to be). While Google pays a pricey phone bill for Google Voice, which has 1.4 million users (with 570,000 of them using it seven days a week) Google is dedicated to making Google Voice work—and if it does Google could potentially serve a new brand of overshot customers that want to stay connected in realtime but don’t need or want a landline.

Although some argue that Chrome OS is more disruptive, using disruptive innovation theory it can be said that Chrome OS is created for the breed of overshot customer that is frustrated with other market solutions at the same level, not for the majority of customers. Should Google currently be scheming around Chrome OS, the business plan would be an expensive one, not to mention timely and draining in its use of resources. For more information on Google’s continued innovation efforts, please visit Nubifer.com.