How Will Google`s Sites Service Impact Microsoft?

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Now that Google has taken the wrap off of the re-engineered JotSpot product, will the company’s changes, enhancements and business focus impact any of Microsoft’s offerings?

Some 18 Months ago, Google acquired JotSpot, a little known wiki-type service that was gaining interest among those looking to share information via the Web. Some questioned why Google purchased JotSpot, while others concluded that the move was a brilliant foray into wiki territory for the search giant. Both camps waited to see what the outcome would be, while business users were somewhat oblivious to Google's plans with JotSpot.

Fast forward to today. JotSpot, now reborn as Google Sites has a clear objective: to take on Microsoft's SharePoint, a collaboration tool tightly intertwined into many of Microsoft's products. SharePoint's aim was to be the "company portal" to business information, offering ad-hoc management, along with predefined rules to group pertinent business information into actionable silos, yet still allow the cross flow of related information across those silos, departments and divisions.

For the companies that put the effort into using SharePoint, the payoff was well worthwhile, users could manage and work with information in new ways and build collaborative relationships with co-workers, vendors, or anyone else that was so inclined.

While medium and large enterprises embraced SharePoint, the small business market was hard pressed to implement the technology, even though Microsoft bundled SharePoint with Small Business Server 2003 at no extra charge. Simply put, small businesses did not have the time or energy to move over to what was perceived as a complex portal. After all, why would a small business want an information portal, when the boss could just yell across the room to one of his workers and ask where a particular document was?

When it comes to taking on Microsoft's turf, Google Sites has three major advantages—it's Google, it's free and plus  it's easy to use. Sure, it may not have all of the features that SharePoint does, but it has the features that count. Especially for a small business that is not looking to go the Microsoft Small Business Server Route.

When coupled with Google's other free tools, Google Sites becomes a formidable competitor to most of Microsoft's small business offerings. On the flip side, one area Google will need to overcome is the typical small business owner's apprehension of storing their data and applications on servers owned and operated by others.

That seems to be the one of the major advantages Microsoft currently offers. But there is one other advantage Microsoft has—and that is its Channel. If VARs can make more money offering Microsoft products than they can by implementing free tools, Google's small business market share could be in jeopardy. After all, most small businesses lack technical expertise and rely on that "trusted advisor"—more commonly known as the "VAR." So, it will really be up to the channel before Google can drink Microsoft's milkshake.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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