Google needs to read the 'Hailstorm' history books

Google needs to read the 'Hailstorm' history books

Summary: You'd think with so many former Softies on the payroll, Google would know a thing or two about avoiding mistakes Microsoft already made. But if you look at the just-announced Google Apps Premier Edition, it seems Google missed at least one lesson that Microsoft learned the hard way.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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You'd think with so many former Softies on the payroll, Google would know a thing or two about avoiding mistakes Microsoft already made.

(I know at least one Google employee who is quite well-versed in Hailstorm and could remind his current employer of the follies of his previous one, Microsoft.)

But if you look at the just-announced Google Apps Premier Edition -- a suite of Web-based e-mail, calendaring, messaging, wordprocessing, spreadsheet applications -- it seems Google missed at least one lesson that Microsoft learned the hard way.

Many businesses don't want their data to be stored offsite. Many also don't want a third-party middleman (even one that pledges it will "do no evil") to host their data.

(My ZDNet blogging colleague Larry Dignan has a laundry list of other potential corporate objections to Google's hosted app suite.) 

Sure, Google is touting newly signed customers General Electric Co. and Procter & Gamble as proof that even the largest businesses will find Google Apps Premier Edition's $50 per user price irresistable.

But Microsoft initially had a lot of big-name partners -- including American Express, eBay and Expedia -- onboard when it announced Hailstorm in March 2001, too. And it was piloting Hailstorm with a number of key Microsoft customers, as well.

Microsoft's "Hailstorm" project -- a ka ".Net My Services" -- was supposed to allow consumers and businesses store their information on Microsoft-hosted systems. Eventually, Microsoft even offered businesses a loophole: The company would allow businesses to keep their precious data on premise, with the back-end servers located inside their own companies, rather than in Microsoft's datacenters.

While Microsoft's Live initiative initially looked and sounded an awful lot like Hailstorm, Microsoft isn't making the mistake (at least so far) of trying to own the entire infrastructure this time around. Passport is dead. Windows CardSpace, its successor, is being designed to work with other digital-identity platforms, like OpenID and non-Microsoft infrastructure products, like Apache.

Bottom line: Microsoft customers and partners didn't like the Hailstorm idea one bit. Microsoft was forced to scrap Hailstorm in April 2002, just over a year after unveiling its uber-Web-service plan.

Wonder if Google will suffer the same fate, or at least be forced to find a way to appease businesses loath to part with their data by providing them with a way to keep information on site?

Topic: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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25 comments
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  • Off-site storage needs to be "Advertised" better...

    Nobody has a real feel for how good and safe it really is. Take some of that excess cash and "evangelize" it to the public AND businesses on TV and YouTube and more.

    Most geeks know it's an excellent idea. There's no reason why, with some clever advertising, over time, that this can't happen sooner rather than the later that it actually IS going to happen.

    Problem is, MSFT with Vista failure and past law suits and bad karma, has an uphill climb to get folks to trust them online. Hell combine good will AND off site storage into one advertisement. Synergy!
    rayted32
    • What geeks know

      Most geeks know that most self-professed IT geeks can't even administer systems
      properly and there is no way in h*** they would trust their data to some sysadmin
      they couldn't personally vouch for.
      frgough
      • You are not enttrusting your data to sys admins...

        you are entrusting it to good, solid code and hardware. The time has come or is coming. I auto backup at 5 every nite with Mozy. Piece of cake.

        I am sure there's redundancy out there with them and others. Education is all that is needed. The technology is now.
        rayted32
    • Dude...

      You really have no idea what you're talking about here, admit it.
      BFD
      • Oops! You got me. My 30 years of experience is...

        ...of no use to me now.
        rayted32
        • Does that trump my 12 years of experience?

          Seriouslly, I think your original post was just a way to get an MS slam in sideways?

          It may be the home user that needs to be "Advertised" to, but I would have to guess that the businesses do have people who need no [i]advertising[/i] to understand the benefits AND the pitfalls of a setup like Google is tryiung to roll out.

          You talk of trust? I would bet that for every company that "trusts" Google's offline storage, there are 100 companies that would trust a good backup software on a Microsoft Server even more.
          John Zern
          • Hey, Monkey Boy...

            I don't need to go sideways to slam the Evil Empire. Passive aggressive is not my style; I'll do it right up front.

            As for trust, it's earned. Microsoft has earned that trust in the server department but, if you've ever performed backups, no matter WHAT the server, you'd know how fragile they are and prone to errors because of "open" documents on the LAN. PITA!

            IF you're Microsoft, Google is doing your advertising for you. So sit back, relax, wait for the critical mass and then either shut up or...buy Google, because lord knows, you'll screw it up on your own time.

            And, based upon your rather flaccid response, I'd say my 30 DOES trump your 12.
            rayted32
    • Yeah, that's the problem...

      That's the problem, all we hear is advertising and the advertising is far different from the actual service. A great example is all of those stock photos we see of the smiling, friendly and helpful support person. Then we call for support and get someone who is rude, unable to help, and hangs up on the customer as soon as they demand someone who can actually solve the problem.

      Forget the advertising; the real message is, "We'll give you a promise, you give us money." Customers are tired of investing money and receiving no real value in return.
      ogmanx@...
  • Google needs to read the 'Hailstorm' history books

    Nice analogy!

    I remember receiving a Hailstorm preview book at a long-ago PDC (2001?) and wondering whether anyone would trust Microsoft as a repository for personal information after the Passport Wallet fiasco (http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,48105,00.html).

    --rj
    Roger_Jennings
  • i'd get it

    If I were to start a company, I'd use Google Apps Premier. I like the collaborative nature of docs, and the interface of gmail. The upsides of this is that you get very good software with no installs, virtually no limit on hard drive space, centralized access, everything's backed up for you, less IT support needed, and all at a cheap price. The true selling points are collaboration built in and centralized access. If people don't go for the centralized access [aka all data held by Google], then it will be a hard sell.

    Especially if they come out with accounting software, no company would want that data out there [even if they're honest!]. Accounting is best done with a pencil and an abacus, anyway.
    Voodoo187
    • Take off your garter and green eyeshade...

      ...accounting is best done on Quickbooks. Even Quickbooks has an online service.

      I'd rather have some professional at Quickbooks daily double-backing up my data then some associate-degreed newby screwing up my daily backup at my office. This and other examples are how this can easily gain the hearts and minds of people. Google and Microsoft simply have to advertise it...continually...for 3 to 5 years.
      rayted32
      • but i like green

        I could care less about every day operations of the business, but if an employee and I are sharing a collaborative document on the next killer app that will surely make us millionaires, it better be secure.

        Accounting is different because if I were to cook some books, saying I did it with a pencil and an abacus would make it a lot more believable that I just messed up :) Of course, I would never cook books. They're better when raw.
        Voodoo187
  • Offsite Storage is a NON-Issue because...

    1. There's redundancy built into it...double and triple.
    2. The FAILURE TO PERFORM would be catastrophic to the vendor; i.e. - If Quickbooks lost your 4th quarter data their ass would be grass in the marketplace. All it takes is one (1) so you can bet they will be totally on top of it.
    3. There's more safety with a professional storage company than with your lil' ol' sys. admin.
    4. SMB companies can backup on premises, too.
    5. It's an SMB money saver - 12 million companies strong - because of little or no investment in onsite computer personnel.
    6. The Internet has gotten a reputation for reliability. It doesn't matter if the server is down the hall.
    7. How often have you failed to get your data or how often have they lost it at Gmail, Hotmail, RoadRunner, AOL. It's the same thing! We're already doing it and...we love it!
    rayted32
    • Still some issues

      I have to disagree, I see a few issues:

      1. Most of the companies that have issues with off-site storage don't have a "lil ol sys admin". They have an entire team of highly trained professionals.

      2. I don't believe the internet has a reputation for reliability at all. There have been quite a few times various online services, including gmail, haven't been available.

      3. No matter how secure Google is there is still fear that someone could get ahold of sensitive data. If the FBI and CIA can lose data then Google easily can.

      4. GMail is a much different beast than a 200-page propriety legal document containing trade-secrets. The argument then becomes that you should use a separate program to write documents that are needing that much security but then again why have to use two different programs at all?

      5. While I've only failed to get my gmail data a few times I also had my gmail account exposed to others. Remember the Google Accelerator debacle where it was allowing others to view your gmail account?

      6. If you ALSO have on site backups as you suggest in your #4 point that means you now have another step to pull your offsite data locally and then back it up.

      7. A lot of companies leery of off-site data aren't worried because of reliability, they're worried about security and accountability. if somehow their data is compromised they are liable. To really make this Google needs to offer a guarantee to cover 100% of any legal fees that a company may encounter if their offsite data is compromised.

      8. Road-warriors. I know quite a few sales people that make last minutes changes to presentations and documents on plane trips and until every plane is equiped with free WiFi I don't see a business person being too happy about not being able to adjust their presentation because they don't have internet access.

      Given all of this I'm sure for a certain niche this service will be great, I just don't believe this is a one solution fits them all product nor I do think they will make any significant inroads into the desktop-based Office suites.
      MaxPerino
      • Great points!

        I would hate to have the files cross indexed by mistake to where it shows up in a web search, or by some other Google App user.
        John Zern
      • Rebuttals...

        1.Most of the companies that have issues with off-site storage don't have a "lil ol sys admin". They have an entire team of highly trained professionals.

        <b>Right and these are not the SMB market I speak of.</b>

        2. I don't believe the internet has a reputation for reliability at all. There have been quite a few times various online services, including gmail, haven't been available.

        <b>Moot. My laptop has been more "unavailable" than Gmail.</b>

        3. No matter how secure Google is there is still fear that someone could get ahold of sensitive data. If the FBI and CIA can lose data then Google easily can.

        <b>You're kidding, right? The people who know best how to handle and store information are no better than the bumbling, fumbling FBI/CIA? Poppycock!</b>

        4. GMail is a much different beast than a 200-page propriety legal document containing trade-secrets. The argument then becomes that you should use a separate program to write documents that are needing that much security but then again why have to use two different programs at all?

        <b>Solution: Don't put your trade secrets online.</b>

        5. While I've only failed to get my gmail data a few times I also had my gmail account exposed to others. Remember the Google Accelerator debacle where it was allowing others to view your gmail account?

        <b>Early bugs. Hey, there's a lot at stake, here. If one company screws up one time, the results could be cataclysmic; I am sure they are aware of that. Take off the blinders. </b>

        6. If you ALSO have on site backups as you suggest in your #4 point that means you now have another step to pull your offsite data locally and then back it up.

        <b>Simply a choice for the weary. It's all about choice. You listening, Microsoft?</b>

        7. A lot of companies leery of off-site data aren't worried because of reliability, they're worried about security and accountability. if somehow their data is compromised they are liable. To really make this Google needs to offer a guarantee to cover 100% of any legal fees that a company may encounter if their offsite data is compromised.

        <b>They won't do that. Like it or lump it. The vast majority of SMB's could give a dead rat's ass about your valid - for big, big business - points. They just want more "worry free... time."</b>

        8. Road-warriors. I know quite a few sales people that make last minutes changes to presentations and documents on plane trips and until every plane is equiped with free WiFi I don't see a business person being too happy about not being able to adjust their presentation because they don't have internet access.

        <b>Agreed. He/she will have to do it off line and then synchronize (Lotus Notes) at the airport. Tsk, tsk.</b>
        rayted32
      • Rebuttals...(Easier to Read Ones)

        1.Most of the companies that have issues with off-site storage don't have a "lil ol sys admin". They have an entire team of highly trained professionals.
        .
        <b>Right and these are not the SMB market I speak of.</b>
        .
        2. I don't believe the internet has a reputation for reliability at all. There have been quite a few times various online services, including gmail, haven't been available.
        .
        <b>Moot. My laptop has been more "unavailable" than Gmail.</b>
        .
        3. No matter how secure Google is there is still fear that someone could get ahold of sensitive data. If the FBI and CIA can lose data then Google easily can.
        .
        <b>You're kidding, right? The people who know best how to handle and store information are no better than the bumbling, fumbling FBI/CIA? Poppycock!</b>
        .
        4. GMail is a much different beast than a 200-page propriety legal document containing trade-secrets. The argument then becomes that you should use a separate program to write documents that are needing that much security but then again why have to use two different programs at all?
        .
        <b>Solution: Don't put your trade secrets online.</b>
        .
        5. While I've only failed to get my gmail data a few times I also had my gmail account exposed to others. Remember the Google Accelerator debacle where it was allowing others to view your gmail account?
        .
        <b>Early bugs. Hey, there's a lot at stake, here. If one company screws up one time, the results could be cataclysmic; I am sure they are aware of that. Take off the blinders. </b>
        .
        6. If you ALSO have on site backups as you suggest in your #4 point that means you now have another step to pull your offsite data locally and then back it up.
        .
        <b>Simply a choice for the weary. It's all about choice. You listening, Microsoft?</b>
        .
        7. A lot of companies leery of off-site data aren't worried because of reliability, they're worried about security and accountability. if somehow their data is compromised they are liable. To really make this Google needs to offer a guarantee to cover 100% of any legal fees that a company may encounter if their offsite data is compromised.
        .
        <b>They won't do that. Like it or lump it. The vast majority of SMB's could give a dead rat's ass about your valid - for big, big business - points. They just want more "worry free... time."</b>
        .
        8. Road-warriors. I know quite a few sales people that make last minutes changes to presentations and documents on plane trips and until every plane is equiped with free WiFi I don't see a business person being too happy about not being able to adjust their presentation because they don't have internet access.
        .
        <b>Agreed. He/she will have to do it off line and then synchronize (Lotus Notes) at the airport. Tsk, tsk.</b>
        rayted32
      • Rebuttals...(EVEN Easier to Read Ones)

        1.Most of the companies that have issues with off-site storage don't have a "lil ol sys admin". They have an entire team of highly trained professionals.
        .
        <b>Right and these are not the SMB market I speak of.</b>
        .

        2. I don't believe the internet has a reputation for reliability at all. There have been quite a few times various online services, including gmail, haven't been available.

        .
        <b>Moot. My laptop has been more "unavailable" than Gmail.</b>

        .
        3. No matter how secure Google is there is still fear that someone could get ahold of sensitive data. If the FBI and CIA can lose data then Google easily can.

        .
        <b>You're kidding, right? The people who know best how to handle and store information are no better than the bumbling, fumbling FBI/CIA? Poppycock!</b>

        .
        4. GMail is a much different beast than a 200-page propriety legal document containing trade-secrets. The argument then becomes that you should use a separate program to write documents that are needing that much security but then again why have to use two different programs at all?

        .
        <b>Solution: Don't put your trade secrets online.</b>

        .
        5. While I've only failed to get my gmail data a few times I also had my gmail account exposed to others. Remember the Google Accelerator debacle where it was allowing others to view your gmail account?

        .
        <b>Early bugs. Hey, there's a lot at stake, here. If one company screws up one time, the results could be cataclysmic; I am sure they are aware of that. Take off the blinders. </b>

        .
        6. If you ALSO have on site backups as you suggest in your #4 point that means you now have another step to pull your offsite data locally and then back it up.

        .
        <b>Simply a choice for the weary. It's all about choice. You listening, Microsoft?</b>

        .
        7. A lot of companies leery of off-site data aren't worried because of reliability, they're worried about security and accountability. if somehow their data is compromised they are liable. To really make this Google needs to offer a guarantee to cover 100% of any legal fees that a company may encounter if their offsite data is compromised.

        .
        <b>They won't do that. Like it or lump it. The vast majority of SMB's could give a dead rat's ass about your valid - for big, big business - points. They just want more "worry free... time."</b>

        .
        8. Road-warriors. I know quite a few sales people that make last minutes changes to presentations and documents on plane trips and until every plane is equiped with free WiFi I don't see a business person being too happy about not being able to adjust their presentation because they don't have internet access.

        .
        <b>Agreed. He/she will have to do it off line and then synchronize (Lotus Notes) at the airport. Tsk, tsk.</b>
        rayted32
      • exactly

        This is my point as well: this service doesn't replace Office at all. I see OpenOffice and KOffice competing with MS Office, but not Google for God sake! They have strenghts, like collaboration, but the tools are not comparable at all. Writing a 100-page document in your browser is insane. The formating is non-existant. I mean.. headers, footers, styles, tables, columns, figures...
        Road warriors are the ones who *could* benefit the most, but at the same time, they need to be connected all the time to the net, which is a contradiction (until UMTS access becomes cheap, if ever)
        So for me, collaboration is the only strenght of this technology. And this doesn't offset its limitations.

        But the good point about all this, is that people are becoming aware of alternatives. They are shaking out Microsoft. Because MS can answer "these can't compete with us, it's a joke". But even if they say that and they are right, the press always needs something to write about, and this propaganda for sure affects them.
        patibulo
  • A Large-ish Leap...

    Hi Mary-

    It's a fair point; however, there's a difference as to *who* is doing the storing. Question of appetite & taste...gut feeling.

    Additionally, it's will become clear whether Google *has* internalized the important lessons -- those of nuance & execution.

    Certainly it's a wait-see.
    swhiser