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Office 365 – Press Pass

I talk with the press frequently. Thankfully, they whack down my ramblings into concise quotes. For those who prefer to see more, I try to dump publish those slightly polished up conversations this new category of posts: Press Pass.

A little while ago week John K. Waters asked me about Microsoft’s Office 365 announcement (I missed his deadline), moving Office to the cloud to pick the easy summary. Thus, I answered the question, “what do you think?”

I think Microsoft sees the shift towards moving applications to “the cloud,” esp. when it comes to email and things like SharePoint. In the extreme version, everything that isn’t a core application to a business looks like something that’d be cheaper to run on the cloud. Email is, of course, a core application for most every business, but that technology has been around long enough to be more or less solid in outsourced (or “cloud”) situations. Except for companies with luxurious email needs and budgets, it’s starting to look absurd to run your own email server. To be clear, it seems like Office 365 isn’t exactly moving all of Office into the cloud, but more moving back-end services around the desktop applications and running some applications as a SaaS.

While there’s Google roll-out problem stories – mostly that City of LA case where it seemed like lack of training and acting like a “real” enterprise provider were the problems, not the technology – the pressure their simple model puts on  people like Microsoft is high. For years people have complained that Word, for example, is bloated and has too many features – something like Google Docs tests out people’s willingness to live otherwise.

Email is still the big thing here – it’s sort of a low-value, low margin service, but it’s the foot in the door for doing all sorts of other interesting things. The fact that people “live in their email” makes it the primary point to do integrations to higher value Enterprise 2.0 things. Scheduling meetings to start, but then all sorts of stuff. Google has added all sorts of interesting bells and whistles into GMail, and their Google Apps marketplace is starting to show the ease at which 3rd parties can add in and monetize applications. It’s not a runaway success at all at the moment, but it shows something that’s possible when you SaaSify all this instead of walling it up on-premise a la Exchange and Outlook. Getting access to that possibility will be valuable to Microsoft for protecting its existing revenue streams in the near future.

Disclosure: Microsoft is a client, RedMonk uses Google Apps and other Google services extensively.

Categories: Cloud, Press Pass, The New Thing.

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