It is no secret that Google would like to get further into the enterprise space. Google has an enterprise division, and has been partnering with vendors such as SAS, Oracle and Salesforce.
This interesting article talks about how Google might penetrate this market. There’s some great quotes:
“people who look at Google and see nothing more than random growth are making a big mistake. Most of the high-tech industry is just starting to realize this.”
Utility computing has been talked about in IT circles for some time, but it is conceivable that Google has the infrastructure and nous to actually pull it off.
However, this isn’t simply a question of technical features, which is where many in the Web 2.0 crowd get it so wrong. This issue is about power and control. IT departments and management aren’t going to release control just because it becomes technically possible to do something. Empowering workers is all well and good, but out-of-control empowered workers present huge risks.
The article goes on to suggest that utility computing will happen because users will demand that it does. After all, that’s how MS Office applications found their way into corporate IT land.
Yes and no. Yes, that will be the likely way in, and it will happen for some applications. But there’s a big difference between non-critical apps used by one person at home and mission critical apps used by large corporations. There are different levels of checks, balances, legal, support and control required, regardless of the technology platform. The powers that be aren’t going to release control without good reason. Or anytime soon.
Also, I don’t buy the idea that web applications accessed via thin clients is computing nirvana. It’s an old, redundant idea. Where is the benefit in 2006? Client side processing is both cheap and powerful, and will soon be more powerful with 64 bit architectures, while bandwidth is expensive, not to mention the sizeable risk and costs involved in outsourced computing capacity.
A post in the comments sums it up well:
“Google knows that applications will not all be web-based. Their most interesting products, beyond search, involve win32 applications, which just happen to update intelligently over the Internet. They know the benefits of a client-side presence, and caught on to the transparent update more quickly than others.”