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Microsoft and Google California Dreamin'

All the leaves really are brown, and the sky...well, it was blue today in Greater Boston, but not as blue as it's about to be in California for either Microsoft or Google. The Golden State, always on the cutting edge (seriously), is moving its e-mail, messaging and -- when, exactly, did this become a verb, or even a gerund? -- "calendaring" to a hosted model. And it looks as though either Microsoft or Google is going to get the bid.

Quoth the InformationWeek article: "It's a choice that could impact a quarter of a million state workers and create a multimillion dollar revenue windfall for one of two major technology vendors."

Sure, but it's a lot bigger than that. Thus far, Google has owned Microsoft in search, but Microsoft has owned just about everything else. This represents one of the first really big, head-to-head contests between the two rivals for a major hosting client. It's the grizzled veteran versus the up-and-coming star. It's Brett Favre vs. Tony Romo on Thursday Night Football. It's a battle not just for dollars and desktops (albeit with nothing installed on them) but also for momentum.

Whichever vendor wins California will have a bell-cow Software-as-a-Service account to trot out to other prospective clients, as well as a head-to-head victory over its chief rival. For Microsoft partners, a win for Redmond could be a huge boon and serve as a calling card for pitching hosted applications to clients -- but only if partners have developed a SaaS strategy themselves.

Maybe that's the real lesson here -- SaaS isn't coming; it's here. Now. If you haven't figured out how you're going to address it, you'd better calendar yourself some meetings and come up with something. California isn't just dreamin' about SaaS (on such a winter's day) -- it's doing it. You should be, too.

Who do you think will win the battle of California, and why? What are you expecting from your SaaS business in 2008? Let me know at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/29/2007 at 1:21 PM


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