Google’s Enterprise push continues with the release of Google Sites.
Google Sites is the renamed and revamped JotSpot Wiki. It’s aimed at making it easier for people in enterprises to collaborate.
Rather than pursue a top-down, enterprise sell, Google Sites targets customers directly and encourages collaboration outside the corporate firewall. Naturally, this flies in the face of most corporate IT departments, who don’t seem keen on placing sensitive information in some distant place that they have no direct control over.
Have a look at this comment thread on Digg for some indication of the kind of pushback that Google are seeing/going to see from IT:
Where I work, I need to know what the software is doing and I need to be able to control who and how it talks to 3rd party people.
Google is an indexer of information, for the specific use of creating an advertising platform. My company’s data is not theirs to index.
In today’s modern knowledge-centric workplace, the information is the organization.
Read Write Web details some of the main CIO Fears behind Google’s approach. But I think that they left one important concern out of their list: competition.
If we assume that an organization can gain competitive advantage by interpreting and analyzing their information, wouldn’t it be a risk to use the same hosted systems as everyone else? Leaving aside the question of whether Google can be trusted with that information, if your competition uses the same Google tools to aggregate, search and analyze data, how do you differentiate yourself?
I can see an argument for external storage. Storage is rapidly becoming a commodity, and you’ll have your choice of providers: Amazon S3 is one example, and perhaps Microsoft as well, if the rumors are true.
But Google Sites isn’t just about handing over the data. It’s about using Google’s business logic to determine how you collaborate and work. As of now, there doesn’t seem to be any API or data retrieval strategy for the content you place on those sites. So your enterprise information ends up outside of your organization, which is one thing, but also outside of your influence. And that affects your ability to execute.
I’m skeptical that enterprises are going to wholly embrace this model.
What do you think?