Google Sites: A Sharepoint Killer?

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?

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.