Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

Summary: The Google redesigned Jotspot Wiki, dubbed Google Sites, is being looked as a Sharepoint “killer”. With Sites, Google would like to think that Google Apps is ready take on Office and the rest of Microsoft suite, but is it?

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The Google redesigned Jotspot Wiki, dubbed Google Sites, is being looked as a Sharepoint “killer”. With Sites, Google would like to think that Google Apps is ready take on Office and the rest of Microsoft suite, but is it?  Matthew Glotzbach, Google’s Management Director of Enterprise, called the combined products under Google Apps a “Microsoft Sharepoint killer” because it’s allowing businesses to collaborate without all that expensive Microsoft software, writes Michael Arlington.

When Jotspot was initially released, I thought it easy to use collaboration app would give small business an answer to high-priced collaboration software. Back then the only Wiki-style collaboration platforms for business was Jotspot and Socialtext.

How things have changed. Today, there are more than 50 Wikis targeting business each with their own level of complexity and capability. Given that context Google Sites is interesting, but hardly the revolutionary product that Jotspot had originally introduced.

Yes, yes Google Sites is more than just a Wiki and nor will (or should) anyone discount Google as a competitor. Still, I don’t think Google Sites can elevate Google Apps to the status of an enterprise play. Here’s why:

My own experience with Google Apps, for example, has been neutral to positive at best. Google’s done a good job capturing most of the critical functions that one would need from a Microsoft Word. Most though I dare not say all and there’s enough missing today to still be a hindrance to adoption.

So what’s missing? How about not being able to use traditional shortcut keys like Ctrol-C for copy or Ctrol-V for paste. Columns on tables can’t be resized simply by dragging columns nor can you use the fonts on your computer and not just the six fonts Google licensed from Microsoft. Those are just some of the problems out there. You can find more rants about Google Apps by reading Rich McManus' post here.  

As for taking on Microsoft’s Sharepoint, Google Sites will have a long way to go, writes Eweek’s Clint Bouton:

…Forrester Research analyst Erica Driver told eWEEK that even with Google Sites, Google Apps is still limited compared to IBM Lotus Quickr and Microsoft SharePoint platforms.

Driver said these other suites include an abundance of functionality in key areas such as basic content services, collaboration, communication, social computing tools, portal services, office productivity tools, and what we think of as "business intelligence for the masses."

Moreover, Apps lacks secondary functionality such as search, information rights management, business process management and informal learning, she said.

AMR Research analyst Jim Murphy agreed, and made the case that the evolution of Google Apps, particularly with Sites, is not unlike the bridge between the functionality in Microsoft Office and SharePoint. "In Office, [Microsoft] had developed personal productivity capabilities in separate standby applications (basically word processing, spreadsheets, presentation) plus e-mail and messaging," Murphy told eWEEK. "SharePoint ties everything together and makes Office more of a group or even enterprise productivity application by enabling collaboration." He also said there's still a question of whether Google Apps can act as a true platform for companies because of certain hindrances to adopting across the enterprise. Specifically, he said that while Google is working to usher in offline support for Apps, it might be difficult to do for every function that they're introducing. Moreover, if Apps is to become a true platform, it has to be easier to customize or integrate to suit specific company and partner needs, such as enterprise applications like ERP and CRM, he said. The final blow, in Murphy's opinion? Google Sites has no workflow. "They're going to have to find a simple way to introduce that. But it's a challenge to keep a concept like workflow simple."

Jotspot was a novel even revolutionary application for its time. Google Sites is not. With that said, Google Site is a small fraction of Google's repertoire, far smaller than one suspects Sharepoint is for Microsoft. It and Google Apps aren't in a postion to threaten Sharepoint and Microsoft Office today, but tomorrow will well be a different matter.

Techmeme has more to say on the matter.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apps, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Software

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13 comments
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  • Killer ??????

    I just used Google Sites (for my college account)..

    And com'on, are you sure you want to say Sharepoint Killer? Looks like Google Sites will take at least 50 years to come as equal to Sharepoint.. One cant compare Sites with Sharepoint.. Its land and sky difference..

    After trying various options out at Google Sites, I dont think I will ever return back to site at least for 9-12 months (even to check updates..) its still in its very very basic state.. They need to improve a lot.. UI sucks!
    jigar.programmer@...
    • And com'on, are you sure you want to say Sharepoint Killer?

      Perhaps you should have read the actual article instead of just the title? He is quite clearly NOT endorsing the Sharepoint Killer designation.
      bmerc
  • You get what you pay for

    In this case a clunky, slow, site with last century's interface. Perfect for organisations who can't spend money and want some of the functionality of professional products.

    If you don't own and control your domain name, then don't bother - you will need to verify this by creating a file with specific name and content and uploading it to your existing site.

    However, I won't be swapping over from MS Small Business Server as it provides all the Google functionality and more but uses fast apps on my computer and looks and behaves like a business server built in this century. Speed and stability are my most important requirements.

    So praise to Google for making it available and it will be extremely useful for charitable organisations and very small business, but does it really need to look like it's held together with gaffer tape?
    tonymcs@...
  • I like it but need to overcome Microsoft jail at work

    I use Sharepoint at work - it sucks. Version 2 is awful and version 3 is better as it provides social tools like wiki's and blogs,etc but still sucks. The interface is what you expect from Microsoft - clunky, confusing.
    The only reason I use it is for the obvious reason - it is the only tool IT allows inside the corporate firewall. I wish Google were allowed to be used. Instead, my work group is stuck with Microsoft pushed down by corporate.
    I'm glad Google is providing an alternative. The trick now is to use Google SItes without having my company's IT bean counters and security police from finding out we are using an "unapproved tool".
    Prognosticator
  • RE: Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

    Why would you want a free, hosted, clean interface with 1000's of widgets when you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to load last year's feature-bloated version on your own outdated servers?
    weaver@...
    • Good question.....and the answer

      most companies are willing to spend money to make money. You can throw around "bloated" all day long and it's just as outdated as those few that still use "M$". Sharepoint is very good software and ties heavily to office 2007 which has been extremely popular and sold in very large quantities. <br>
      The ROI alone makes it better since it has 100 times the functionality and allows a company to actually use it for what they want and control it. That makes it far better, and you don't have to upgrade your entire infrastructure if you don't already have Gb to every PC inhouse and you won't have to shell out a lot more for more bandwidth to use the thing. It's far from being "FREE". YOu don't get much realistic usage from it and have to pour a ton of money into upgrading your network, boy that somehow doesn't sound like a winner to me.
      xuniL_z
  • Sharepoint killer?

    I'm sorry but I see this as nothing more than maybe mosquito landing on the arm of sharepoint, and getting slapped down before it can even get one little bite.
    xuniL_z
    • Mosquito or Wasp?

      I think you're right, xunil_z, but only to a point. Microsoft is very afraid of this whole free/ad-driven paradigm as it undermines Redmond's whole strategy of getting folk to pay for software (and upgrades, more software, and more upgrades...etc. etc.etc.).

      Sites doesn't have to be better than Sharepoint, just good enough to address the collaboration needs of workgroups. I think it still has some ways to go, but then again this only a first release.

      To come to think of it, wasn't the bottom approach good for another company a few years back? You know the one who provided the software that ran on PCs...:-)
      Dave Greenfield
  • RE: Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

    It sounds like a great resourse for biz start-ups - basic functionality and flexibility at no cost. God Bless.
    tyrone.latour@...
  • New Google Sites Application Misses Mark

    After waiting expectantly for the release of Google Sites, the success to Jotspot, for more than a year, I must confess I'm pretty disappointed in the result. The user interface is clunky and non-intuitive and offers little new in the way of collaborative tools, other than Joomla-esq shared web page editing.

    What happened? Google already has a terrific widget enabled web page creation tool. It's called Blogger! Why didn't they use that technology to make dropping various functional elements onto a page easy?

    The ability to quickly create an Intranet/Xtranet of four to twenty pages is what most of my SMB clients are looking for. Doing this with SharePoint has always been too developer and infrastructure intensive, leaving us to recommend products like WebOffice (formerly Intranets.com) and Blue Tie as web-based collaboration tools.

    BlueTie in unique in that it offers unique ways for partners to monetize the solution and generate a unique ongoing revenue stream. In fact, BlueTie was recently recognized as an OnMedia Top 100 Winner.

    Google has missed the mark badly with its Google Sites application. It's unfortunate, because it takes the pressure off Microsoft to improve SharePoint's ease of use and Cisco to lower the cost of WebOffice.

    Until Google releases a Google Sites application that is significantly easier to use and functional, I will continue to recommend WebOffice, Blue Tie or our own TeamPro application as a Intranet/Xtranet solution.
    John Westra
  • RE: Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

    What might be more interesting is that Google may be secretly involved in a movie called Infinite Play that first movie that blends with reality. Buried in the movie site are terms that specify Google employees cannot participate in the suprizes. The leads and clues can be found using Google which is referred to as the Great Oracle. In fact if you Google ???infinite play the movie??? the links lead one on a great journey.
    mr.richardthomas@...
  • Sometimes simplicity rules, sometimes capability

    SharePoint is way more capable.

    Google Sites is way more simple.

    At PBwiki, we try to reach a golden mean--simpler than SharePoint for 80% of what you want to do.
    chris.yeh@...
  • RE: Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

    It's close, but i'd love to see more control over the navigation and more granularity for managing users and groups a la central desktop and projectspaces.
    joepring