Google Goes After SharePoint

Perhaps as a move to upstage Microsoft's first SharePoint conference next week, Google today took the wraps off Google Sites, a set of tools that can be used to create collaborative Web sites.

The new offering, which is built on a wiki technology the company acquired last year, will be the latest member to the company's Google Apps suite of software. Supposedly, Google Sites helps users with just a smidge of technical ability to piece together Web sites in a matter of minutes. They can use these sites to house different functions such as calendars, spreadsheets and videos.

While the technology appears to be aimed at non-technical consumers, the timing of the announcement relative to Redmond's SharePoint conference might be sending a signal about where Google ultimately wants to target the product. Some feel that Google is hoping business users will hold Google Sites and SharePoint side-by-side and, consequently, steal some of those users looking primarily for hosted solutions. The company is betting some users don't want to invest any more infrastructure solutions based inside their IT shops.

Google has been pretty adept at wedging its way into corporate environments under the IT radar (something Microsoft itself was pretty adept at doing 20 years ago), but it figures to have its hands full competing against Redmond's SharePoint franchise, which is becoming fairly well-entrenched in larger IT shops.

The Once and Future King of the Datacenter?
You have to marvel at the new ways IBM comes up with to keep the venerable mainframe relevant to the IT industry.

On Tuesday, Big Blue threw the spotlight on its next-generation mainframe, the System z10, which is designed to simplify the management of a range of complex tasks in the new-age enterprise datacenter. The 64-processor system, built on quad-core technology, does this by helping IT pros to start managing IT as a service.

Company officials at the launch event explained how and why the z10 was built from the ground up to be shared so business units inside large enterprises can share and automate the management of IT resources.

Technically, the new system accommodates a number of different workloads -- including those based around Linux, XML and Java -- as well as workloads from SOA implementations. Not a lot of distributed solutions can do that. IBM and Sun officials added that they're now jointly working on piloting the OpenSolaris operating system on System z10.

Here are some fun facts and figures IBM threw out about the z10: One z10 has the strength of 1,500 x86-based servers and requires some 85 percent less power. And the new machine can consolidate x86 software licenses up to a 30 to 1 ratio.

What IBM is hoping to do here, of course, is cash in on what's very front-of-mind for many cost-conscious IT shops: knocking out inefficiencies that continually creep into large datacenters responsible for managing thousands of servers, desktops and mobile devices. With this offering, Big Blue comes up against the usual problem of trying to promote mainframe-based technology as sexy in the face of distributed solutions made up of more widely advertised products that are better-known to the general computing community.

But apparently, IBM continues to make some pretty decent dough from its big iron sales. The company says mainframe revenues have grown in five of the last seven quarters and has increased MIPS (Millions of Instructions Per Second) shipments in nine of the last 10 quarters. As further evidence of strong interest in mainframe technologies, some 400 universities have now signed up for IBM's mainframe skills program, compared to the 20 in 2004.

At the press conference, IBM also announced it has spent $300 million in architects, technical abilities, and design and benchmarking centers to help corporate accounts reinvent their datacenters so they can manage IT as a service.

It Ain't Yahoo, But It'll Do -- For Now
It's not exactly like landing Yahoo, but Microsoft did acquire a small Israeli-based startup that specializes in ad targeting. Published reports claim Redmond paid between $20 and $30 million for YaData (lunch money compared to the $44.6 billion it's ready to lay out for Yahoo).

Microsoft said the YaData team will be folded into the software giant's existing research and development center in Herzliya, Israel, and will operate as part of its ad unit. YaData focuses on so-called behavioral targeting, which serves up advertising based on what users are doing at their computers.

The big idea with this purchase is that the newly acquired technology will allow Microsoft to offer advertisers significantly better targeting capabilities, enabling the company to not only engage with users more efficiently but also provide customers with more relevant ads. Solutions dreamed up jointly by YaData and Microsoft's research center will be available through Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group.

Meanwhile, there's been no significant progress on the Microsoft-Yahoo deal. Talk coming out of Redmond's big Windows Server 2008 launch yesterday in Los Angeles was that it's going to be quite some time before there's any significant movement.

Mailbag: Mother Knows Best
A reader close to Doug's heart sets him straight about the origins of a prayer he learned as a child, which read: "If I should die before I wake, I pray Thee, Lord, my Soul to take."

No, no, NO! One of the most impressive things I heard as a child about my father was the story of the prayer plaques. He was given an order to make the two prayer plaques, a big order and one he needed. Mary and I were little and he didn't like the "If I should die" line and said he would not make the plaques unless the wording was changed. The woman agreed and the plaques he made said, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. When in the morning light I wake, help me the path of love to take and keep the same for Thy dear sake." If you saw the "die" line, it was NOT in our house, but that is the common line. That is one of the acts that best defined my father and his standards. Love you loads!

P.S. Since your father remembers being scared as a child, it must have been in Gram's house.
-Doug's Mom

Send us your thoughts on any of the topics we've covered. Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to escannell@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.

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