Analysts say the Salesforce.com deal can't hide the fact that Google Apps has failed to achieve large-scale deployment in large enterprises.
The announcement of Salesforce for Google Apps has again raised questions about why Google hasn't been successful in getting major corporations to widely deploy its Web-based productivity applications, particularly the Google Apps Premier Edition.
With the Salesforce for Google Apps announcement, it looks like Google is hoping that Salesforce.com will be able to jump-start the migration of Google Apps into the Enterprise, said Guy Creese, research director with the Burton Group.
In an interview with eWEEK, Creese said the Salesforce.com deal was unlikely to add significant momentum to enterprise adoption of Google Apps.
While the "integration within the Salesforce.com application is quite nice," Creese said, the Salesforce for Google Apps deal is "an installed base play-non-Salesforce.com customers won't be touched by this initiative."
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In a blog on the Burton Group site, Creese wrote that Google still faces a tough sell in getting Fortune 500 enterprises to switch from Microsoft Office applications to Google Apps because Google Apps is still missing important features that enterprises want, such as role-based administration, the ability to work offline, records management for documents and automatic footnoting.
Google is working on some of these issues, Creese noted, but their absence means that even corporate users who want access to Google Apps may face opposition from IT and their business managers.
Records management is an important issue to enterprises who always have to be concerned that they may be hit with a lawsuit or a regulatory inquiry that would require them to produce huge volumes of corporate documents, Creese said.
Creese said he believes there are situations where Google Apps could be successful, perhaps in enterprises that need low-cost productivity apps and are "a bit leery of spending all that money on Office."
The good news, Creese said, is that users get "nice cheap e-mail and a word processor and everything they need to get their jobs done because they aren't power users." But the requirement for users like this is, "They must be pretty much self-contained," he said.
However, Narinder Singh, founder of Appirio, which provides applications and services to support the adoption of both Google Apps and Salesforce.com, claimed that significant number of large corporations have at least launched pilot programs to deploy Google Apps to workgroups of 200 to 1,000 users.
"We have got a bunch of manufacturing and biotech companies" and one large bank that have started major Google Apps deployments, Singh said, but they generally work under strong nondisclosure agreements and "prefer to fly under the radar."
One of these organizations that has gone public is the Republican National Convention, which is running the organization on Google Apps and is also using Salesforce.com, Singh said.
He said Appirio has also worked with Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago to deploy Google Apps Premier Edition and to transfer users' e-mail boxes from an older e-mail system to Gmail.
Singh also noted that biotech company Genentech made a splash early in 2008 when it announced that it was deploying Google Apps across the enterprise. Arthur Levinson, Genentech chairman and CEO, is also on the Google Board of Directors.
Most major enterprises are very shy about publicizing their Google Apps deployments and pilot projects because "they don't want to cause panic in their own company" with speculation that the company is planning a full-scale deployment of Google Apps, Singh said.
Nor do they want "to find themselves getting pressure from Microsoft if they reveal that they might be considering a large-scale move to Google Apps," he said.