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Doug's Mailbag: Cloudy Forecast in L.A., More

Readers share their thoughts on Los Angeles' decision to adopt Google's e-mail service, and what it means for cloud computing:

Los Angeles is run by a bunch of morons. I used to work for a firm that did IT support for the city back in the late '90s, and they had the most moronic in-house IT people. Most of the divisions ran on computers so old, opening them up for service was pretty scary, as disturbing the dust inside would many times lead to failure. Instead of replacing old equipment, they would budget only for repairs, which cost two or three times more than new equipment.

As for Google Apps, it does not even come near the robustness of Microsoft Exchange coupled with Office. They have e-mail outages for a couple of hours every few months, which my organization would never tolerate. They have no respect for privacy, as shown in the service agreement, and technical support is pretty much non existent. L.A. is a city in a budgetary crisis and is looking to cut their IT budget. For a small company or startup without an IT budget, it may make sense to use Google Apps, but for an organization like the city of L.A., I think it could be disastrous.

Major companies like Coke and Home Depot have chosen Microsoft for the cloud. They actually make money, whereas L.A. does nothing productive but waste taxpayer money. Not sure I'd call it a win for Google.

Yep, this is a major win for Google. How do you translate "use e-mail to target ads" when the people you're targeting are the government? If I said, "Monitor confidential e-mail communications of the government to influence the awarding of contracts," would that sound as benign? Hmmm.

I think that any organization that outsources their important (and in some cases confidential) e-mail to a third-party instead of controlling it within the security of their own firewall is asking for trouble. I predict that major security breaches of information will befall Los Angeles, and they will be a poster child for why you DON'T want your sensitive information in the cloud.

The move to cloud-based computing environments is unstoppable. Microsoft knows this. Google knows this. Amazon knows this. IBM and HP know this. Salesforce knows this. Novell knows this. The Great Recession is accelerating the move to cloud computing; organizations are not going to be able to afford the capital investment or obtain credit to keep running premises-based computing work loads. The IT landscape is going to radically change over the next 10 years. Resistance is futile. Your IT services will be assimilated into the cloud.

Confidential business data is what you use to keep your company competitive. Why would you trust the cloud for this? I have yet to see it proven that the cloud-based messaging water is safe, nor do I think it is an inevitable move. As it appears that it was a two-way fight between Google and MS, it follows for me that the wrong solution was chosen or the wrong question was asked.

The real issue is useability. Exchange (and Office) is a full-featured client application. It gets pounded for being bloatware but if it misses a feature it'll get slammed for being incomplete. Google Apps is the other extreme: feature-lite. The Web is a kludgy environment for sophisticated programs despite the promise of RIA technology. Google Apps are feature-poor and will have a second-rate (or third-rate) interface until RIA gets beyond crummy JavaScript hacks like Ajax or CSS magic. Silverlight/Flash may lead to apps down the road which obsolete client software like Office but I wouldn't migrate to it today.

I think your angle is incorrect on this. My understanding is that both Google and Microsoft were proposing cloud solutions in L.A. If that's true, then whichever way L.A. had gone, it would have been a cloud-based solution.

The key question is whether the Google solution that L.A. chose is going to give the city what it needs. If it does THAT, then Google's cloud-based solution will be validated.

Count Kevin as among those who think Office 2010 is an improvement over its predecessor:

I recently upgraded my father's laptop to Windows 7 and decided to put Office 2010 on it instead of 2007. I really like the changes from 2007 to make the File and other (what they call "back office" functions) more congruent with the ribbon interface.

It was certainly a lot easier to give my dad a tutorial on using 2010 versus what I felt the experience would have been with 2007. Like Windows 7 with Vista, I believe Office 2010 is what 2007 should have been. So far, the experience is very pleasant...much like Windows 7.

And on reader gives kudos to Doug's son, Dave, for his feature article on Bing:

Congratulations on a well-researched and written article. Very readable and informative. I hope your dad's watching out for the competition.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/07/2009 at 4:59 PM


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