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Google Moving In On Redmond, Literally

Hardly a week goes by when Google doesn't announce an enterprise signing on to its cloud services, notably Google Apps and to a lesser extent its Google App Engine platform as a service (PaaS), usually at the expense of Microsoft. But now Google is stepping up its assault on Redmond in more ways than one -- the company's moving in.

Google is doubling its capacity in nearby Seattle, The New York Times reported last night. In addition to embarking on an aggressive campaign to recruit engineers and other cloud experts in the area, the company is adding 180,000 square feet of datacenter capacity there. The new office in Kirkland, Wash., is about the size of a Walmart Supercenter, making the location its third largest -- outpaced only by its headquarters in Silicon Valley and its facilities in New York.

One of Google's latest recruits from Microsoft is 10-year veteran Brian Goldfarb, who now heads up cloud platform marketing at the search engine giant. He acknowledged to The Times that his new employer is coming from behind. But he insisted Google will be a force to be reckoned with. "We have the best data centers on the planet. You can't really give engineers a bigger, badder thing to work on," he said.

The latest endorsement of Google's cloud offering came yesterday from Swiss-based Holcim, which is said to be one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and related supplies. The company is rolling Google Apps out worldwide to its 40,000 users.

"We chose Google Apps because it will help us concentrate on our core businesses, and bring our employees, customers and partners across the globe closer together," wrote Holcim CIO Khushnud Irani, in a blog post Tuesday. On top of the Google Apps productivity and collaboration suite, Holcim plans to use the Google Search Appliance, Google App Engine and Google Apps Vault, the latter to archive and manage e-mail content.

"With the introduction of Google Enterprise products, we are embracing modern cloud-based delivery models that ease the technical complexities of internal operations," Irani said. "Such a model takes away the technical complexities of internal operations and instead allows IT personnel to focus on closer involvement with their business counterparts in creating deeper business value."

Among other big wins for Google are Japan's All Nippon Airways, California's City of Monterey and The Chicago Public Schools -- the latter deploying 40,000 seats in 681 locations.

Microsoft has announced its fair share of big Office 365 wins as well, such as the retail giant JC Penney, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of Texas, which is deploying 100,000 seats.

So who's winning this battle? "I would say we see them neck and neck at this point," said Sara Radicati, president and CEO of The Radicati Group, a market researcher firm that tracks enterprise use of e-mail, collaboration social networking and security software and services. "Google Apps tends to appeal more/gain more traction with SMBs and non-US customers, Microsoft seems to be doing better in small- to medium-size market in the US, so if you look at it on a worldwide basis I would say they are about even right now, whereas in the U.S. I would put Microsoft slightly ahead at this time."

Meanwhile, some of the key arguments Microsoft is making to warn customers of the risks of moving to Google Apps are becoming moot. Perhaps the biggest one, that you can't store documents locally, is about to go away, said Derik VanVleet, a senior solutions engineer on the sales team of Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas, Google's largest partner.

Google is going to make Quickoffice, the company it acquired last year, a native client with its Chromebooks, effectively letting users store documents on their systems, rather than requiring them to only save them in the cloud, VanVleet pointed out.

"The capability from our understanding is very close," he told me. "What that allows me to do is use the Google Apps platform and this whole conversation of documents fidelity and document conversion goes away. QuickOffice allows me to natively edit Microsoft documents in their native format with virtually 100 percent fidelity, better than what Microsoft is able to offer in Office 365 Web Apps."

The rivalry between Microsoft and Google in the cloud is nothing new. In fact I've followed this for many years. Now with the revamp of Microsoft's Office 365 released two weeks ago, and Google's moves toward reducing the shortcomings of its offering, the battle is entering a new phase.

Who do you think has the edge? Drop me a line at [email protected].



Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/13/2013 at 1:15 PM


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