I'm at an event called "CSO Interchange" in London today. Philippe Courtot, the chief executive of Qualys, has just given a speech. In it he compared Microsoft's current business model with cloud giants like Google. Now, you would expect the CEO of a software-as-a-service company to argue for the benefits of SAAS, but Courtot made an interesting comparison between Microsoft and Google.
"The entire enterprise software [model] is threatened by cloud computing," said Courtot. "Microsoft is very late. If you look at the infrastructure that Google built, you don't build an infrastructure on the scale of the planet that easily. How can you change companies that have been investing so much in a model that's about to disappear?"
Courtot said that enterprise software companies needed to evolve, and start putting cloud infrastructure in place. He compared the relative models of Microsoft's Outlook email program, and Google's Gmail provision.
"In ten years time Microsoft Outlook will disappear and be in the cloud. It costs $84bn a year to maintain Outlook, even if it's given free. The costs of the infrastructure, servers, and software, those are the real costs [to business]."
Courtot said that the Google's model was "interesting" for firms. The internet was close to being free, so the only costs reside in servers and storage, said Courtot.
"The running costs of gmail [for business] is just a few millions [globally], against billions on the enterprise software side," said Courtot.
As email is critical for businesses, Courtot argued that it is more secure to outsource email provision to a trusted company, to lessen the costs associated with maintaining and securing email servers.