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There's No Escaping Google Wave

For a company with the mantra "don't be evil," Google sure does terrify a lot of folks in the technology industry.

Late last week, the search titan talked up Google Wave, a phenomenon probably best (and most often) described as a "real-time communication platform" but apparently packed with the destructive power of an asteroid slamming into the earth. Or at least into a bunch of big technology companies.

We're not going to go into great detail about what Wave is or how it will work because somebody else has already done it for us. For more than you ever thought you could know about Google Wave, check out this article.

What we can't help but notice -- and you've probably noticed it, too, if you've opened a browser this week -- is the panic that Google Wave is causing. This "wave" seems more like a monster than a wall of water. (Besides, we're still not comfortable making "wave" jokes for lots of reasons.) In fact, Google Wave makes us think of Godzilla terrorizing townspeople somewhere in Japan.

Look at them run! Wave is coming for everybody: e-mail, Facebook, Twitter (good riddance), SharePoint...wait, hang on. What was that last one? SharePoint?

Yes, there are pundits out there speculating that this Google monster will gobble up (or reduce to rubble, we suppose) Microsoft's collaboration cash cow. That would be bad news for Microsoft partners, who have been sharing the wealth that SharePoint has created for both the channel and the mothership. And it could happen, we suppose. After all, Wave does sound pretty impressive, and SharePoint kind of has the feel of stodgy old enterprise software, whereas Wave feels very Web 2.0 (or higher).

But let's not forget a few things. First of all, Google Docs hasn't unseated Microsoft Office (yet), despite being much simpler and cheaper than its more established competitor. Plus, the open source, Web-based nature of Wave might make some IT administrators nervous about using (and supporting) the platform for serious business purposes. Some might not even want their users running it at all. In how many offices is Facebook blocked? Twitter? Maybe even LinkedIn? They're not blocked at RCPU headquarters, but we know of places where they are.

SharePoint, on the other hand, has that old advantage that put Redmond on the map: It works well with all the Microsoft stuff companies already have, and it's relatively easy to administrate, support and control in a Microsoft environment. Wave is kind of a wild card -- seemingly pretty cheap and simple but nevertheless something of a mystery for the enterprise. We're at least going to wait until it's available even think about declaring it a SharePoint-killer. In other words, we're not ready to run from the monster quite yet.

How much of a threat will Google Wave be to SharePoint? Or Microsoft? Or anything else? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 06/03/2009 at 1:22 PM


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