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Google and Salesforce.com: Now, That's SaaS-y!

Did someone say Web 2.0? Did someone say Software as a Service? Did someone say cloud computing, or utter some other already hackneyed buzzword?

Oh, yes, someone did say all those things this week with the celebrity marriage of Salesforce.com and Google, two of the industry's Webby young superstars. The two SaaS evangelists finally exchanged vows of sorts this week, announcing an agreement through which Salesforce.com will sell Google Apps with the Salesforce.com-hosted CRM (customer relationship management -- but you knew that) offering.

My, aren't the synergies flowing now! Salesforce.com is a legitimate SaaS success story and huge player in CRM, and Google is...well, Google. Surely, this must spell doom for Microsoft and its own hosted-slash-on-site hybrid CRM product, Dynamics CRM Online (formerly Dynamics CRM Live), at least in the SMB space. Right? And it might even make a huge dent in Microsoft Office, too, if Google Apps is readily available as a replacement inside another popular service. Right?

Well, not everybody is so sure, and we're in the skeptics' camp, too. Why? First off, we're in agreement -- as we so often are -- with RCP magazine columnist Josh Greenbaum, who sums up our feelings rather well. Says Josh in one of his blogs:

"It's hard to imagine that adding a tab inside Salesforce.com for Google Apps is going to do that much to add value to either partner, and making Salesforce.com available as an online service with the Google Apps family would add some hype-factor to Salesforce's marketing, but I'm having trouble looking at the nascent Google Apps user base as a channel for Salesforce.com."

Josh and RCPU aren't the only skeptics out there, either. Others have noted that, among other concerns, Google Apps still isn't "all that" functionality-wise -- at least not enough to supplant Microsoft Office, as bloated as Office might be.

Besides, as we've said many times before, companies already have huge investments in Microsoft technology, and their customers and partners do, too. We're not saying that Salesforce.com and Google won't have a happy honeymoon; their pairing will probably meet with some success (and we'll be interested to see whether it leads to Google buying its CRM partner at some point).

But it won't be anything close to a knockout blow to Dynamics CRM Online, which, if anything, will probably steal market share from Salesforce.com now that Microsoft finally has an SMB-targeted, hosted CRM offering. And as for Office, well, it's just embedded in our work culture now, and some semi-nifty apps from Google worked into a CRM service isn't going to change that all that much.

The Google-Salesforce.com marriage is SaaS-y; it makes for good Internet fodder. It's all Web 2.0 and cloud computing and anti-Microsoft -- enough to send the blogosphere into rapturous jubilation. But in the real world of the enterprise, it's much closer to being just another hook-up than it is to being the wedding of the century.

What's your take on the impact that an expanded Google-Salesforce.com partnership will have? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 04/15/2008 at 1:21 PM


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