Google is adding JotSpot, which the company acquired in October 2006, to the Google Apps, according to Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise. Google Apps currently includes mail, calendar, instant messaging, Web page creation, documents and spreadsheets.
JotSpot will bring wikis and easy to build team Web sites to the suite. The company has been in the process of moving JotSpot to the Google infrastructure to gain reliability and scale efficiencies, Girouard said, but he didn't disclose when JotSpot would become available.
Girouard was speaking on a panel at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Alumni 2007 Global Conference. He said that Google is getting 1,000 to 2,000 new businesses per day signed up Google Apps.
He also made the Google case that cloud computing--delivering services on demand--is at an "early stage of an inevitable revolution" but will "drain the pond over time."
He predicted that in the next ten years it won't make sense for people to build their own data centers. "It's like building individual power plants and having a vice president of electricity, he explained, channeling some of Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's best lines.
Girouard cited Amazon's cloud computing effort, EC2, as a way to get scale and the cost advantage of software-as-a-service without signing up for any particular application. He said that people have been asking Google about running their applications an VMware on Google's infrastructure.
I asked Girouard about Google becoming an infrastructure provider: "We have no plan, we are not actively working on it, but we are courting developers who want to build applications that run on Google. Gadgets have that utility flavor," he said.
That said, it's not hard to image Google using its data center prowess to host third-party applications beyond gadgets and widgets and network services such as VoIP.
While Google will attract millions of small businesses and consumers, convincing corporations to jump on the Google Apps bandwagon is a serious challenge.
"IT people have valid concerns. Some are based on real logic and some is cultural," Girouard said regarding companies who are hesitant to give their data to the cloud. "It's not true that because information is stored in the cloud that it is less secure. It will be more secure than what you could do yourself for every scenario."
He pointed to scenarios such as having a laptop stolen or lost as example of where cloud computing is more secure. "We are in the early days of a revolution. More often small businesses participate early. Culture barriers will begin to fade away. Marc Benioff [salesforce.com CEO] has been waging a successful campaign for many years."
Clearly, the cloud can be a safe way to store and more convenient way to access data, anytime and anywhere, but privacy concerns and compliance issues will take years to resolve. Even then companies will want to keep their most precious digital assets secured at higher levels of service than currently offered by cloud-based vendors.
Small business in precisely where Google is having success with Google Apps, which costs a fraction of traditional software. "There is no question that the larger the company the more likely it will take time to move to hosted apps, but the economics are overwhelming," Girouard said.
He noted that features such as archiving, compliance and legal discovery are issues for enterprises, and a "drag on the revolution."
"You could use whatever compliance system with Google Apps. The [revolution] will go faster when it's brain-dead easy to [adopt hosted apps] and you don't have to worry about getting fired for doing it. Archiving, compliance and legal discovery will be taken care of in the simplest fashion. We are very focused on that," Girouard said.
At this point Google is partnering to address some of the shortcomings. The company recently implemented a mail gateway for archiving email to another system. In addition, Google has APIs that partners can be used to extract information for enterprise systems, but the solution falls short of supplying what larger corporations need.
Girouard said that if archiving, compliance and legal discovery are functions that every company needs, Google would want to develop its own solutions.
He also said the Google wants to produce fewer applications, preferring to add functionality, such as presentations, as features in Google Apps rather than as discrete products. "The measure of success is not about the next smash hit, but in extending the boundaries of what we already have," Girouard said.