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'' takes another step forward...

15th Apr 2008
Share this content and Google announce the details of their latest tie-up to take on the "albatross of IT", Microsoft.

By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor

Is it a step forward? CEO Marc Benioff used to refer to Microsoft as a dinosaur in the software industry; this week though, evolution had kicked in and the Redmond giant is now an albatross! But old habits died hard as and Google announced details of their latest tie-up to beat up on their mutual enemy.

While Benioff quipped that one of the goals of the alliance with Google was to "get rid of the albatross of IT”, he added: “I think Microsoft is still a dinosaur. More than ever, it tries to hold onto its monopolistic position around technology that they hold, whether it's SQL Server, whether it's NT, whether it's Windows, whether it's Office - these are their cash cows they don't want slaughtered.

"Customers are demanding a new generation of software, and the standard bearers of the previous generation have not stepped forward," he continued. "The power will be to run your applications in the cloud."

"Microsoft tries to hold onto its monopolistic position around technology that they hold, whether it's SQL Server, whether it's NT, whether it's Windows, whether it's Office - these are their cash cows they don't want slaughtered."

Marc Benioff, CEO,

Google CEO Eric Schmidt pitched and his own firm as the new breed in the software ecosystem. "We know what it takes to build this next generation of services," he said. "You need a company with values. That model is the defining model of the new computing cloud age. It is a 20- or 30- or 40-year vision. Although [our] two companies are working in the same space in different ways, the models are getting closer and closer. The clouds are beginning to merge.”

The two firms already collaborate on Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google Adwords. Now they're rolling out Salesforce for Google Apps, which integrates all the functionality in a productivity suite with's CRM line of applications: sales, marketing, service, support and partner outreach.

Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentation can be created from within Salesforce’s CRM application. GTalk works as the de facto instant messenger within Salesforce. Sales people who use Gmail can send any email with potential or existing customer information to Salesforce, where it becomes recorded as part of the sales cycle. Sales events and marketing campaigns can be mapped onto a Google Calendar.

The real winner

The joint product leverages the Platform and Google's open APIs to allow developers to introduce their own innovations. The Platform as a Service offering provides a toolset to build new business applications, while and Google's APIs enable their integration and extension in Google Apps.

Salesforce for Google Apps is currently available to all customers. Later this summer, Salesforce for Google Apps Supported will join it, offering integrated telephone end user support, unified billing and provisioning, enhanced platform APIs, additional third-party applications, and advanced Google Apps functionality.

"The real winner here is Google. This gives them a business sales channel at no additional cost."

Rebecca Wettemann

The deal is mutually beneficial. Google is in effect becoming Salesforce’s productivity suite. Google Apps gets exposure to Salesforce’s one million paying business subscribers, and Salesforce in turn will become more attractive to the “tens of millions” of business users on Google Apps.

“The real winner here is Google," said Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann. "This gives them a sales channel at no additional cost.” Last year, Google generated less than $200 million from software licensing while pulling in $16.4 billion from advertising sales.

So will this latest snuggling up between the cloud champions deliver genuine results or just good headlines? And does it do anything to kill off (or encourage further) the inevitable 'Google to buy' rumours and speculation?

"There are folks gunning for this emerging opportunity," noted Rob Koplowitz of Forrester Research. "Microsoft, Oracle and SAP all have online CRM offerings. IBM and Microsoft are moving into online collaboration. These are not necessarily folks you want coming after you. The disruption that can and will be caused by cloud computing is a potential source of risk and opportunity for every major player in the industry.

"Here's the bottom line. It looks like a sea change is coming and is sitting smack in the middle of it. The big players are moving quickly and aggressively which could ultimately spoil the best laid plans and aspirations of They like to squeeze little guys with good technology and markets. The problem here is that an acquisition of by any of the major players represents a huge threat to all of the other players. So, squeezing could end up driving them and their assets into the hands of the enemy."

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