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. 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.

  2. You’re right that Google is making an enterprise push, and you’re also right that they’ll eventually make significant inroads. Where I think you’re wrong is in thinking that these synchronization products will make a difference in today’s enterprises. Where this will succeed is with small business and on the home PCs of corporate e-mail users.

    Why this won’t work in the enterprise:
    * These products are client-based, meaning there’s an extra layer of deployment and support on the PC. What happens when the client PC has calendar synchronization problems? Is it the Cemaphore layer or Outlook? What happens when Microsoft changes MAPI or RPC over HTTPS in a hotfix or service pack? Does the Cemaphore layer on all 3,000 of your PCs break? Do you have to replace them all at once? Do you have to put off installing a critical security fix while Cemaphore updates their product?
    * You’re sending your enterprise data to a third-party service without any sort of enterprise security or service level agreement, opening yourself up to things like HIPAA violations, data breaches, making enforcement of data retention policies impossible and so on.

    Why it will work for small business and consumers:
    * Small businesses can use Outlook with zero-maintenance Google Apps, rather than buying an expensive to maintain Exchange or Microsoft Small Business Server.
    * Corporate users want the e-mail client they’re used to on their home machines, along with the ability to seamlessly and easily backup their personal mail, calendars and contacts. Plus, they get the mobility and easy access that GMail and other webmail services offer.

  3. You’re right that Google is making an enterprise push, and you’re also right that they’ll eventually make significant inroads. Where I think you’re wrong is in thinking that these synchronization products will make a difference in today’s enterprises. Where this will succeed is with small business and on the home PCs of corporate e-mail users.

    Why this won’t work in the enterprise:
    * These products are client-based, meaning there’s an extra layer of deployment and support on the PC. What happens when the client PC has calendar synchronization problems? Is it the Cemaphore layer or Outlook? What happens when Microsoft changes MAPI or RPC over HTTPS in a hotfix or service pack? Does the Cemaphore layer on all 3,000 of your PCs break? Do you have to replace them all at once? Do you have to put off installing a critical security fix while Cemaphore updates their product?
    * You’re sending your enterprise data to a third-party service without any sort of enterprise security or service level agreement, opening yourself up to things like HIPAA violations, data breaches, making enforcement of data retention policies impossible and so on.

    Why it will work for small business and consumers:
    * Small businesses can use Outlook with zero-maintenance Google Apps, rather than buying an expensive to maintain Exchange or Microsoft Small Business Server.
    * Corporate users want the e-mail client they’re used to on their home machines, along with the ability to seamlessly and easily backup their personal mail, calendars and contacts. Plus, they get the mobility and easy access that GMail and other webmail services offer.

  4. I love hearing you guys pontificate about the enterprise when you have never been in one. I agree there are a of technologies that will impact the enterprise however I don’t think email will be one of the early ones. Enterprise customers have this thing about privacy and their email holds a lot of IP and also potential liabilities. More likely disruptors in the enterprise will be:

    Content Management Systems
    Cloud Computing
    Semantic Web
    Enterprise Search
    Enterprise Social Networking
    Work-Place Wiki’s
    Open Education

    Seven Core Competencies for Enterprise Innovation
    http://www.johnmwillis.com/7core/seven-core-competencies-for-enterprise-innovation/

  5. I love hearing you guys pontificate about the enterprise when you have never been in one. I agree there are a of technologies that will impact the enterprise however I don’t think email will be one of the early ones. Enterprise customers have this thing about privacy and their email holds a lot of IP and also potential liabilities. More likely disruptors in the enterprise will be:

    Content Management Systems
    Cloud Computing
    Semantic Web
    Enterprise Search
    Enterprise Social Networking
    Work-Place Wiki’s
    Open Education

    Seven Core Competencies for Enterprise Innovation
    http://www.johnmwillis.com/7core/seven-core-competencies-for-enterprise-innovation/

  6. Robert, you know Silicon Valley and the new wave of Internet applications. After all aren’t you the GenX Internet Czar?

    But, I just don’t think you grasp the tremendous issues envolved in breaking into the Enterprise.

    The number one issue with breaking into any Enterprise, 2,500 users or more, is where the data resides. There are so many governmental regulations that require a company to keep their data close at hand and well managed. Until some really smart people get their heads around these requirements I don’t see Enterprise companies putting their data into the Google cloud.

    So, in five years, I don’t see Enterprises moving to Google. Look at just how much better Outlook and Exchange are than Google Mail. The end user feature set is so much more robust in Outlook. Microsoft has had, what, 15 years head start on mail.

    And then the big debate of Web based applications versus locally installed applications you will have a longer time-line before a web application actually is as good or more importanly better than a fully installed local application.

    Five years, No. Ten to fifteen years, yes. But then in ten to fifteen years Microsoft will have been able to stir the ship into the Internet Web Application direction and still be as competitive as they are now.

  7. I think you’ve only hit on half the equation. I work for a VERY large IT vendor, and the Office-style productivity apps are a miniscule part of the overall technology agenda. The real heavy-duty enterprise apps relate to CRM, supply chain, inventory, financial systems, etc. So it’s not companies like Google who’re poised to make a dent in the enterprise market, it’s companies like Salesforce (which would be an ideal Google acquisition target.)

    Google also has to demonstrate it can securely host sensitive company data. Enterprises will be very reluctant to release that data into the “cloud” if they see any chance of litigation resulting from it.

    So CIO’s aren’t simply lazy, backwards-looking technology revanchists (well, most aren’t, at least.) They’re reacting to very real business pressures.

  8. I think you’ve only hit on half the equation. I work for a VERY large IT vendor, and the Office-style productivity apps are a miniscule part of the overall technology agenda. The real heavy-duty enterprise apps relate to CRM, supply chain, inventory, financial systems, etc. So it’s not companies like Google who’re poised to make a dent in the enterprise market, it’s companies like Salesforce (which would be an ideal Google acquisition target.)

    Google also has to demonstrate it can securely host sensitive company data. Enterprises will be very reluctant to release that data into the “cloud” if they see any chance of litigation resulting from it.

    So CIO’s aren’t simply lazy, backwards-looking technology revanchists (well, most aren’t, at least.) They’re reacting to very real business pressures.

  9. Robert, you know Silicon Valley and the new wave of Internet applications. After all aren’t you the GenX Internet Czar?

    But, I just don’t think you grasp the tremendous issues envolved in breaking into the Enterprise.

    The number one issue with breaking into any Enterprise, 2,500 users or more, is where the data resides. There are so many governmental regulations that require a company to keep their data close at hand and well managed. Until some really smart people get their heads around these requirements I don’t see Enterprise companies putting their data into the Google cloud.

    So, in five years, I don’t see Enterprises moving to Google. Look at just how much better Outlook and Exchange are than Google Mail. The end user feature set is so much more robust in Outlook. Microsoft has had, what, 15 years head start on mail.

    And then the big debate of Web based applications versus locally installed applications you will have a longer time-line before a web application actually is as good or more importanly better than a fully installed local application.

    Five years, No. Ten to fifteen years, yes. But then in ten to fifteen years Microsoft will have been able to stir the ship into the Internet Web Application direction and still be as competitive as they are now.

  10. Since folks are betting, I’ll bet within one year Google, Microsoft or even EMC will snap Cemaphore up. Cemaphore has relationships with all of them and these tools are too valuable to ignore. My money is on Google for this one, but EMC, which has shown a tendency to try everything out to get away from the, ‘they’re just a storage company,” label. It will be interesting to watch.

  11. Since folks are betting, I’ll bet within one year Google, Microsoft or even EMC will snap Cemaphore up. Cemaphore has relationships with all of them and these tools are too valuable to ignore. My money is on Google for this one, but EMC, which has shown a tendency to try everything out to get away from the, ‘they’re just a storage company,” label. It will be interesting to watch.

  12. @simon, I don’t know the details but my best educated guess would be that Cemaphore will not interfere with any type of syching solution, be it wireless or usb. Those plugins you mention are probably on the client and don’t have activesync support. Cemaphore looks like an exchange plugin and interfaces as if it was like an outlook install on a different computer connecting to your account.

  13. @simon, I don’t know the details but my best educated guess would be that Cemaphore will not interfere with any type of syching solution, be it wireless or usb. Those plugins you mention are probably on the client and don’t have activesync support. Cemaphore looks like an exchange plugin and interfaces as if it was like an outlook install on a different computer connecting to your account.

  14. I am excited about this product. You always have the worried enterprise IT guys pointing out all of the flaws and security risks of google apps and “blah blah blah” stuff I can’t make myself care about. But for me this is a godsend. We have a small company that is very very mobile. We use google apps because outsourced/hosted exchange generally sucks and bringing it internal is just way out of our price range. Google just works and we don’t have to think about it. Each person is using the email system that they are comfortable with so they can be as productive as possible. Google Calendar will sync with ical (mac), entourage (mac), and Thunderbird but before “Mailshadow” you couldn’t sync with outlook on the PC. That was a huge pain for our outlook users and for the rest of us who were trying to schedule things with them.

  15. I am excited about this product. You always have the worried enterprise IT guys pointing out all of the flaws and security risks of google apps and “blah blah blah” stuff I can’t make myself care about. But for me this is a godsend. We have a small company that is very very mobile. We use google apps because outsourced/hosted exchange generally sucks and bringing it internal is just way out of our price range. Google just works and we don’t have to think about it. Each person is using the email system that they are comfortable with so they can be as productive as possible. Google Calendar will sync with ical (mac), entourage (mac), and Thunderbird but before “Mailshadow” you couldn’t sync with outlook on the PC. That was a huge pain for our outlook users and for the rest of us who were trying to schedule things with them.

  16. Possibly. The devil is always in the detail with these Outlook plug-ins that aim to remove a company’s ties to Exchange server. They often look really great on the surface, but have deal-breakers hidden under the table.

    Here’s one thing that’s caught some of these type of offerings historically: Blackberry wired synching with Outlook. Lots of people synch their Blackberries (and other devices) manually with Outlook via a USB cable.

    So, my question is: if you use Cemaphore, can you still synch your Blackberry calendar, contacts etc via USB? Or does the synch’ing mechanism that Cemaphore use preclude this?

  17. Possibly. The devil is always in the detail with these Outlook plug-ins that aim to remove a company’s ties to Exchange server. They often look really great on the surface, but have deal-breakers hidden under the table.

    Here’s one thing that’s caught some of these type of offerings historically: Blackberry wired synching with Outlook. Lots of people synch their Blackberries (and other devices) manually with Outlook via a USB cable.

    So, my question is: if you use Cemaphore, can you still synch your Blackberry calendar, contacts etc via USB? Or does the synch’ing mechanism that Cemaphore use preclude this?

  18. Gmail is great I use it for number of personal and side projects. If google moves gmail and apps onto a behind the firewall solution you’ll see alot more companies move to it especially if it can be backed up and restored as part of enterprise retention policies. This mailshadow product is great for companies that want to provide choice or support traveling sales people better. You don’t know how important retention policies are until you’ve come across a corrupted three year old monthly back up tape as part of e-discovery for a DOJ antitrust investigation.

    Prudential had a $1 million dollar fine due to improper email retention. The white house is in trouble for not having email backups from 5 years ago. I’m not saying never, just think about it a check with a law firm thats been part of an lawsuit in your industry.

  19. Gmail is great I use it for number of personal and side projects. If google moves gmail and apps onto a behind the firewall solution you’ll see alot more companies move to it especially if it can be backed up and restored as part of enterprise retention policies. This mailshadow product is great for companies that want to provide choice or support traveling sales people better. You don’t know how important retention policies are until you’ve come across a corrupted three year old monthly back up tape as part of e-discovery for a DOJ antitrust investigation.

    Prudential had a $1 million dollar fine due to improper email retention. The white house is in trouble for not having email backups from 5 years ago. I’m not saying never, just think about it a check with a law firm thats been part of an lawsuit in your industry.

  20. But if i haven to use sheets, i always choose excel because nothing comes close….
    In all other cases, I use Google Apps…

  21. But if i haven to use sheets, i always choose excel because nothing comes close….
    In all other cases, I use Google Apps…

  22. Google has a habit of dropping people and taking no responsibility or providing any options.
    Gmail
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/gmail-disaster-reports-of-mass-email-deletions/
    Other Google services are often deleted by Google with no available redress e.g. bloggers blogs, adsense accounts, adwords accounts, Orkut Groups.

    As an IT person I would highly recommend not relying on any Google services for business critical use; their terms of service do not align with business requirements – one internal email saying something bad about a competitor and google could shut down your entire corporate email system – that would be fun on a Monday morning :)

  23. Google has a habit of dropping people and taking no responsibility or providing any options.
    Gmail
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/gmail-disaster-reports-of-mass-email-deletions/
    Other Google services are often deleted by Google with no available redress e.g. bloggers blogs, adsense accounts, adwords accounts, Orkut Groups.

    As an IT person I would highly recommend not relying on any Google services for business critical use; their terms of service do not align with business requirements – one internal email saying something bad about a competitor and google could shut down your entire corporate email system – that would be fun on a Monday morning :)

  24. I think Google really is becoming the next evil empire which is sad. They are buying up as much real estate as they can as well as trying to enter countless markets all at the same time. Not to mention the adsense merger being approved. I guess we all saw this coming. chipnit.com

  25. I think Google really is becoming the next evil empire which is sad. They are buying up as much real estate as they can as well as trying to enter countless markets all at the same time. Not to mention the adsense merger being approved. I guess we all saw this coming. chipnit.com

  26. @Matt,

    One interesting thing with this product would be if you have your blackberry connected to your company exchange account and you leave this software running on your desktop then the software would be keeping exchange and Gmail in sync and so your blackberry would be seeing the Google content that is in exchange, and anything that you did from your blackberry would go to exchange and get synced to Google.

  27. @Matt,

    One interesting thing with this product would be if you have your blackberry connected to your company exchange account and you leave this software running on your desktop then the software would be keeping exchange and Gmail in sync and so your blackberry would be seeing the Google content that is in exchange, and anything that you did from your blackberry would go to exchange and get synced to Google.

  28. Robert, I think you failed to mention a crucial factor. Microsoft is not just going to sit there watching Google take over the enterprise. The moment they sense danger (or for that matter, a new kind of opportunity – depends on how they see this), you can be sure as hell that they are going to do what it takes to protect their territory.

  29. Robert, I think you failed to mention a crucial factor. Microsoft is not just going to sit there watching Google take over the enterprise. The moment they sense danger (or for that matter, a new kind of opportunity – depends on how they see this), you can be sure as hell that they are going to do what it takes to protect their territory.

  30. I agree with Derek. Another area that is starting to use this space are colleges and universities. University of Wisconsin and several other technical colleges are starting to use Gmail and the services you get when you use Google Apps. This is a great solution for universities as they do not have to maintain a student email system and they also give their students apps like sites, docs, sheets, presentation and more. Keep looking at GOOGLE… they are moving their way into the organization.

  31. I agree with Derek. Another area that is starting to use this space are colleges and universities. University of Wisconsin and several other technical colleges are starting to use Gmail and the services you get when you use Google Apps. This is a great solution for universities as they do not have to maintain a student email system and they also give their students apps like sites, docs, sheets, presentation and more. Keep looking at GOOGLE… they are moving their way into the organization.

  32. CTO’s want not only to see migration paths but also case studies with Total Cost of Ownership(TCO). So Google needs to find some midsize companies willing to step in a brave new world, and start migrating to Google apps. Then the marketing department has to create some nice whitepapers with cool graphs:)

  33. CTO’s want not only to see migration paths but also case studies with Total Cost of Ownership(TCO). So Google needs to find some midsize companies willing to step in a brave new world, and start migrating to Google apps. Then the marketing department has to create some nice whitepapers with cool graphs:)

  34. I’ve been hearing that there still isn’t a nice solution for Gmail and Blackberry users.

    Anybody have any thoughts on this?

  35. I’ve been hearing that there still isn’t a nice solution for Gmail and Blackberry users.

    Anybody have any thoughts on this?

  36. I think you will see the push first in SMBs, I know a lot of companies that are already moving over to Google Web Apps already (i.e. gmail), from Exchange. I personally already moved my personal/side business email and calendar over to gmail, mainly because of spam issues, and I love it. It takes a while to get your brain to rap around the idea of no folders but once you start using the gmail labeling function, gmail becomes a great tool.

  37. I think you will see the push first in SMBs, I know a lot of companies that are already moving over to Google Web Apps already (i.e. gmail), from Exchange. I personally already moved my personal/side business email and calendar over to gmail, mainly because of spam issues, and I love it. It takes a while to get your brain to rap around the idea of no folders but once you start using the gmail labeling function, gmail becomes a great tool.

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