Google’s five-year plan to hit Enterprise continues (Cemaphore helps Google out)

I’m convinced that Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, has a five-year plan to put Google’s foot inside the enterprise door.

Enterprise users aren’t easy to switch over. On the plane to New York I saw a guy using Windows 2000 with an older version of Lotus Notes. I felt sorry for the guy. But his usage is typical of those in many enterprises. CTOs don’t like to invest in new stuff when the old stuff is working just fine.

So, you try being a Google salesperson and trying to get the CTO to rip out old stuff (er, Microsoft Office and all of Microsoft’s servers like Sharepoint and Exchange) and switch to your newer stuff (like Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets, Gmail, and Google Calendar).

I’m going through that move myself and I can tell you it isn’t easy. And I’m one guy who can make up my own mind. Imagine the momentum a big company with, say, 100,000 seats has to go through. Next time you’re at Hertz rental car you can see that momentum in action: they are still using a character-mode app on their front line machines.

But the early adopters have already moved. When I ask audiences what they are using now, I see more and more Google customers.

I can’t think of a situation where the enterprise didn’t eventually follow the early adopter crowd. It might have taken years, but they do follow eventually.

Today we are seeing new signs of life in Google’s strategy and the help didn’t come from within Google itself.

It comes from a small company named Cemaphore. They just announced “MailShadow for Google Apps.”

What does it do? It synchronizes email and calendar items between Microsoft Outlook and Exchange and Gmail/Google Calendar.

Sounds really boring, right? Hey, didn’t Google just ship its own synchronizer?

Yes, and yes.

But Google’s synchronizer sucks compared to Cemaphore’s. It’s slow and buggy. Earlier in the week I got a demo of Cemaphore’s new offering from Tyrone Pike, Cemaphore’s CEO and President.

I saw that, thanks to Cemaphore, when I enter a calendar item in Microsoft Outlook it instantly appeared in Google Calendar.

He repeated the demo with reading and sending email from both Exchange and Gmail. Again, synched within seconds.

My own tests with Google’s sync technology showed that items wouldn’t sync for hours, and sometimes, never, if you screwed up and loaded two separate synching products like I did.

So, why is this important?

Because it lets Enterprises slowly introduce Google’s Enterprise products in.

Enterprises will never move wholesale over to Gmail and Google’s other offerings. Users just don’t like that kind of change. There would be revolt at work, if CTOs tried to force it. But this way a CTO can let his/her employees use whatever systems they want and still have them synchronized. And there ARE major reasons to move to Gmail: Cost, for one. I also am hearing that Gmail’s email servers use far less electricity per mail than Exchange’s do. Environmentalism anyone? You think that’s not important for CTOs? It sure is. Both are going to be major drivers that will get Google’s offerings paid attention to.

Anyway, I’m hearing rumblings that Google will follow this announcement up with several of its own over the next couple of months.

It’ll be interesting to see what CTOs think of this and it’ll be interesting to see if it does, indeed, take five years for Google to make major inroads into the Enterprise like I think it will.

What do you think?

84 thoughts on “Google’s five-year plan to hit Enterprise continues (Cemaphore helps Google out)

  1. Good notes, Robert.

    Google has another big challenge to overcome — convincing CTOs to let them host these services. Everyone is outsourcing, but the largest enterprises still run many of these things in-house because they want ultimate control. Competing on cost helps, but I’ve often seen control supersede cost in decision making.

  2. Good notes, Robert.

    Google has another big challenge to overcome — convincing CTOs to let them host these services. Everyone is outsourcing, but the largest enterprises still run many of these things in-house because they want ultimate control. Competing on cost helps, but I’ve often seen control supersede cost in decision making.

  3. With regards to the SMB (and possibly the enterprise) markets, you seem to be forgetting MS’ intention to provide SaaS through the use of Exchange, Sharepoint, and its other server software. Therefore MS will be able to counter Gmail using Exchange Online, and provide the scale and other advantages of Gmail. Also as MS grows the supply of services around Outlook, it can make its client software more and more indispensable – countering any possible movement towards the browser.

  4. With regards to the SMB (and possibly the enterprise) markets, you seem to be forgetting MS’ intention to provide SaaS through the use of Exchange, Sharepoint, and its other server software. Therefore MS will be able to counter Gmail using Exchange Online, and provide the scale and other advantages of Gmail. Also as MS grows the supply of services around Outlook, it can make its client software more and more indispensable – countering any possible movement towards the browser.

  5. If I were in Microsoft’s shoes I would see ZimbraCS as more of a threat than Gmail in the Enterprise space. As plenty of people have already commented Enterprise customers have quite unique requirements. I think Google should avoid fixating on the Enterprise it is kind of a niche market allbeit lucrative.

  6. If I were in Microsoft’s shoes I would see ZimbraCS as more of a threat than Gmail in the Enterprise space. As plenty of people have already commented Enterprise customers have quite unique requirements. I think Google should avoid fixating on the Enterprise it is kind of a niche market allbeit lucrative.

  7. @34

    Paragraph 2 is incoherent and makes zero sense.

    Para 4 is a great display of topic ignorance. With exchange, all mail is stored on the server. Local copies can be cached, but this can be turned off if that floats your boat.

    And the registry is alive and well in Vista. But hand cranking “manipulation” is long gone. I guess you need to know what you are talking about to discuss the point.

    You’re FUD-tastic, huh.

  8. @34

    Paragraph 2 is incoherent and makes zero sense.

    Para 4 is a great display of topic ignorance. With exchange, all mail is stored on the server. Local copies can be cached, but this can be turned off if that floats your boat.

    And the registry is alive and well in Vista. But hand cranking “manipulation” is long gone. I guess you need to know what you are talking about to discuss the point.

    You’re FUD-tastic, huh.

  9. Strategically speaking,

    There are currently about 25 million small and medium sized businesses operating in North America. Over the next decade this number will grow as the nature of commerce continues to change (maybe even more than it has over the last 5 decades). More and more baby boomers will retire, more reengineering & outsourcing will occur on different levels, businesses will be leaner (and could possibly create symbiotic relationships leveraging knowledge and resources from each other with different forms of social computing), and more business will be born from that great entrepreneurial spirit the US was founded on – the velocity at which this will occurs will be staggering.

    SaaS platforms like CogHead, Salesforce, BEA’s Genesis, as well as other emergent software services will look to cater to this market by providing more flexible, integrative, user-generated “enterprise” solutions.

    Google, and it’s apps (and app’s we haven’t seen from them yet) are very well positioned for this market, as they have built an impregnable brand with today’s youth – a demographic who are rewriting the rules of business.

    Better Mr. Scoble?

  10. Strategically speaking,

    There are currently about 25 million small and medium sized businesses operating in North America. Over the next decade this number will grow as the nature of commerce continues to change (maybe even more than it has over the last 5 decades). More and more baby boomers will retire, more reengineering & outsourcing will occur on different levels, businesses will be leaner (and could possibly create symbiotic relationships leveraging knowledge and resources from each other with different forms of social computing), and more business will be born from that great entrepreneurial spirit the US was founded on – the velocity at which this will occurs will be staggering.

    SaaS platforms like CogHead, Salesforce, BEA’s Genesis, as well as other emergent software services will look to cater to this market by providing more flexible, integrative, user-generated “enterprise” solutions.

    Google, and it’s apps (and app’s we haven’t seen from them yet) are very well positioned for this market, as they have built an impregnable brand with today’s youth – a demographic who are rewriting the rules of business.

    Better Mr. Scoble?

  11. Hi, Like everyone in this space i have been pontificating about how Google will win in Enterprise. Personally I don’t think that it will take them 5 years, I’d bet on the traditional 3 year plan.

    If speculation is to be believed, this year Google will release offline versions of Google apps including an exchange equivelant, they will release android (in conjunction with phone suppliers such as htc).

    Local mobile search is awesome, gmail is great, but how can Google jump past everyone else, I believe that voice recognition may be the answer, but the buzz seems to have gone from this technology recently.

    There was a lot of talk at one stage about the importance of VR to the future of Google and the mass of data they have gained from 411. If Google can rework voice recognition to work for browsing, emailing and smsing from phones, I believe this will immediately create a massive competitive advantage for Google.

    Put that alongside the cost savings, backup facilities and the collaberation tools that are integrated into Google’s cloud products and Google could suddenly have made a suite that causes a user demanded switchover. If it happens, I believe Google will have slow growth till it hits the tipping point at which point it will smash MSFT’s dominance in a very short time.

    We will see,

    Ciao,

    Richard

  12. Hi, Like everyone in this space i have been pontificating about how Google will win in Enterprise. Personally I don’t think that it will take them 5 years, I’d bet on the traditional 3 year plan.

    If speculation is to be believed, this year Google will release offline versions of Google apps including an exchange equivelant, they will release android (in conjunction with phone suppliers such as htc).

    Local mobile search is awesome, gmail is great, but how can Google jump past everyone else, I believe that voice recognition may be the answer, but the buzz seems to have gone from this technology recently.

    There was a lot of talk at one stage about the importance of VR to the future of Google and the mass of data they have gained from 411. If Google can rework voice recognition to work for browsing, emailing and smsing from phones, I believe this will immediately create a massive competitive advantage for Google.

    Put that alongside the cost savings, backup facilities and the collaberation tools that are integrated into Google’s cloud products and Google could suddenly have made a suite that causes a user demanded switchover. If it happens, I believe Google will have slow growth till it hits the tipping point at which point it will smash MSFT’s dominance in a very short time.

    We will see,

    Ciao,

    Richard

  13. What a great discussion guys!

    Just to lighten it up – what about an IBM/SAP JV to acquire Google for $4 Billion?

    @David (#21) – I like yours better, nice insight.

  14. What a great discussion guys!

    Just to lighten it up – what about an IBM/SAP JV to acquire Google for $4 Billion?

    @David (#21) – I like yours better, nice insight.

  15. @32 I haven’t used Windows since 2000 and have no intention to. Fortunately for me I no longer need to do such things to make a living.

    I was in on the early stages of group policy manipulation though and it was still a disaster (unless you worked for Microsoft) as more of your employees had to become Microsoft lobbyists, and go to SMS indoctrination classes all the time.

    I doubt much has changed.

    The problem with Exchange though is that people are reading mail onto their local machines and those (see my White House reference) are ending up being the defacto “archives” as “administrators” get lazy about managing their storage and back-ups.

    By the way, I’m glad to hear they got rid of the Registry in Vista, that’s news to me and I always thought it was a terrible idea.

    Thanks for playing.

  16. @32 I haven’t used Windows since 2000 and have no intention to. Fortunately for me I no longer need to do such things to make a living.

    I was in on the early stages of group policy manipulation though and it was still a disaster (unless you worked for Microsoft) as more of your employees had to become Microsoft lobbyists, and go to SMS indoctrination classes all the time.

    I doubt much has changed.

    The problem with Exchange though is that people are reading mail onto their local machines and those (see my White House reference) are ending up being the defacto “archives” as “administrators” get lazy about managing their storage and back-ups.

    By the way, I’m glad to hear they got rid of the Registry in Vista, that’s news to me and I always thought it was a terrible idea.

    Thanks for playing.

  17. @ Mac Beach – the “innovation” you mention is called Single Instance Storage – SIS. As you also point out, it has been around since early mainframe days. Exchange 5.5 had it as a core feature 12 years ago in the client-server world. Webmail environments with GB of free mailbox storage rely on this principle fundamentally, and have done so for years.

    I guess you’re pontificating with the best of them.

    Oh – by the way, registry key manipulation is at least 7 years old and long discontinued. Group Policy did away with that. You should really get up to speed with how corporations manage their environments before ranting.

  18. @ Mac Beach – the “innovation” you mention is called Single Instance Storage – SIS. As you also point out, it has been around since early mainframe days. Exchange 5.5 had it as a core feature 12 years ago in the client-server world. Webmail environments with GB of free mailbox storage rely on this principle fundamentally, and have done so for years.

    I guess you’re pontificating with the best of them.

    Oh – by the way, registry key manipulation is at least 7 years old and long discontinued. Group Policy did away with that. You should really get up to speed with how corporations manage their environments before ranting.

  19. Whether it is Google or not, the important thing is that people are starting to think about the problem afresh. You and others may think that e-mail today is the way e-mail has always been, but that is false.

    On Unix systems, people were signing onto terminals and when they were “POPing” their mail they were really reading it from a central (or specialized) server onto their more local (or personal) server for viewing, storage, forwarding, etc.

    One mainframe system I used had totally centralized e-mail, similar conceptually to what we have with web-mail these days, but without the web browser.

    If I sent a message to everyone in the company, only one copy of that message needed to exist. Even long chains of replies to replies to replies would link back to the original message so there was never any duplication of text. This is the only way a sophisticated (and this really was sophisticated, even by today’s standards) e-mail system could exist in the days of megabyte hard drives.

    The combination of Google docs and Gmail (although Gmail isn’t that essential to the concept yet) allows once again for a single copy and ONLY a single copy of each unique document to exist and be seen and updated by all who need to. This makes infinitely more sense than the Rube-Goldberg machinations most organizations are going through these days to manage e-mail. Ask someone at the White House.

    If what Google does finally influences someone at Microsoft to design a better system, then great. the question I always have is would Microsoft, Yahoo, or any of the other old-school providers be offering gig-sized storage for e-mail if Google hadn’t started doing so? Do you want to tie your future product choices to a company who is going to be a leader or a follower?

    Everyone will eventually benefit from Google’s (and other companies) innovations even if you stick with the old fuddy-duddy tech companies you have now.

    I would rather just not wait.

    I’m still speculating that at some point those pizza-box systems from Google will do more than just intra-company search. Company branded Gmail will not be the exclusive domain of Google Aps, and in fact you could start a small company with one such box and add them as your company grew. Totally turn-key and we administered (no registry keys allowed!)

    There are companies that already have systems such as this, so it’s not rocket science, but as there are a lot of “LAN-administrators” out there who are not going to see turn-key office automation as a great job-security advancement, it will also be a generational thing, picked up by smaller growing companies first and adopted by really big companies only years later. After all there are still big companies using mainframes long after we expected IBM to be history.

  20. Whether it is Google or not, the important thing is that people are starting to think about the problem afresh. You and others may think that e-mail today is the way e-mail has always been, but that is false.

    On Unix systems, people were signing onto terminals and when they were “POPing” their mail they were really reading it from a central (or specialized) server onto their more local (or personal) server for viewing, storage, forwarding, etc.

    One mainframe system I used had totally centralized e-mail, similar conceptually to what we have with web-mail these days, but without the web browser.

    If I sent a message to everyone in the company, only one copy of that message needed to exist. Even long chains of replies to replies to replies would link back to the original message so there was never any duplication of text. This is the only way a sophisticated (and this really was sophisticated, even by today’s standards) e-mail system could exist in the days of megabyte hard drives.

    The combination of Google docs and Gmail (although Gmail isn’t that essential to the concept yet) allows once again for a single copy and ONLY a single copy of each unique document to exist and be seen and updated by all who need to. This makes infinitely more sense than the Rube-Goldberg machinations most organizations are going through these days to manage e-mail. Ask someone at the White House.

    If what Google does finally influences someone at Microsoft to design a better system, then great. the question I always have is would Microsoft, Yahoo, or any of the other old-school providers be offering gig-sized storage for e-mail if Google hadn’t started doing so? Do you want to tie your future product choices to a company who is going to be a leader or a follower?

    Everyone will eventually benefit from Google’s (and other companies) innovations even if you stick with the old fuddy-duddy tech companies you have now.

    I would rather just not wait.

    I’m still speculating that at some point those pizza-box systems from Google will do more than just intra-company search. Company branded Gmail will not be the exclusive domain of Google Aps, and in fact you could start a small company with one such box and add them as your company grew. Totally turn-key and we administered (no registry keys allowed!)

    There are companies that already have systems such as this, so it’s not rocket science, but as there are a lot of “LAN-administrators” out there who are not going to see turn-key office automation as a great job-security advancement, it will also be a generational thing, picked up by smaller growing companies first and adopted by really big companies only years later. After all there are still big companies using mainframes long after we expected IBM to be history.

  21. working at NEC & Microsoft and being an IT end-user is NOT the same as being an IT decision maker in one of those types of companies, or working as a consultative partner to those decision makers.

    The latter is where the guy was spot on about all the pontification about “the enterprise” and pontificates having never “been in one”. IMHO.

  22. working at NEC & Microsoft and being an IT end-user is NOT the same as being an IT decision maker in one of those types of companies, or working as a consultative partner to those decision makers.

    The latter is where the guy was spot on about all the pontification about “the enterprise” and pontificates having never “been in one”. IMHO.

  23. 5 year plans be Soviet Economics, lots can change, and if you aren’t nimble and flexible then you die. Google can’t do basic consumer software, let alone something of the Enterprise-level. Microsoft, with it’s Dynamics, as much of a bad-merger mish-mash that be, is still in a far better position. And that’s here and now, not a lifetime of 5 years hence.

    Plus, Google will have to contend with Microhoo…

  24. 5 year plans be Soviet Economics, lots can change, and if you aren’t nimble and flexible then you die. Google can’t do basic consumer software, let alone something of the Enterprise-level. Microsoft, with it’s Dynamics, as much of a bad-merger mish-mash that be, is still in a far better position. And that’s here and now, not a lifetime of 5 years hence.

    Plus, Google will have to contend with Microhoo…

  25. This is an SMB (small and medium size business) play. It’s not an enterprise play, and I don’t really know why people want to say it is. Enterprise requirements, as has been commented previous, are fundementally at odds with Google-style cloud computing, pure and simple. This isn’t about CIO’s not “getting it”, outsourced computing is not something new, no matter what youngsters think, look into EDS (and look into the relationship between MS and EDS for that matter).

    More to the point, celebrate what this is, not what it isn’t. Reporters (bloggers) love to write about conflicts, and winners and losers. Sorry, Microsoft isn’t a loser here, actually, they’re a winner. Outlook is an excellent mail and calendar client (possibly the best *gasp*) but has a problem in that it’s best features are only available to users who have Exchange servers, which means that it’s not as attractive to individuals and small businesses. Now, these users who don’t have Exchange access, which is expensive to get from a mail hosting provider, can get the full benefits of Exchange. If Google were to buy this company and make this a free part of their GMail product, you’d have more people buying Outlook, not less. Sounds like a win/win to me.

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