Google takes on Microsoft SharePoint with Google Sites

Although Google isn't positioning its Google Sites offering as an alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint, that is, in effect, what Google's new wiki-centric collaboration tool is.

Although Google isn't positioning its Google Sites offering as an alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint, that is, in effect, what Google's new wiki-centric collaboration tool is.

JotSpot, which Google acquired in October 2006, is finally being integrated into Google Apps as Google Sites. Google is playing up the fact that Google Sites is free and easy to deploy/use (neither of which can be said about SharePoint. However, to be fair, Microsoft is making an easy and free set of core SharePoint collaboration capabilities available via Office Live Small Business and Office Live Workspace.

SharePoint Server, Microsoft's document-management/collaboration/search suite of servers, was designed to work both inside a company's intranet and across the Internet. But until recently, most Microsoft users were using SharePoint almost exclusively for intranet chores, according to the company.

Microsoft is starting to see the SharePoint usage dial move in a couple of ways, SharePoint Director Tom Rizzo told me a few months ago.

Microsoft is beginning to see more enterprise-wide -- not just departmental -- adoption of SharePoint, said Rizzo. Microsoft also has started noticing a strong surge in the number of SharePoint users who are deploying the product for use with Internet-facing sites, Rizzo said. Users are starting to use SharePoint for everything from Web video search, to content-management for Web sites, he said.

Microsoft said earlier this year that SharePoint generated $800 million in revenues during fiscal 2007, up 35 percent over 2006 rates.

"Office Live Small Business and Office Live Workspaces, which are built on SharePoint products, are going to increase the number of external-facing SharePoint sites significantly once the latest versions are opened up to the world," said Rob Helm, research director at Directions on Microsoft.

SharePoint has emerged as a secret weapon, of sorts, for Microsoft. Microsoft touts it as the glue that holds together many of its disparate products. Its execs have even called SharePoint Microsoft's next killer operating system.

I wonder if Google Sites will end up as key for Google as it tries to build out is applications business.... It looks like Google will have quite a bit of work to do on Sites before that can happen, based on what my ZDNet blogging colleague David Greenfield has to say.

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