Q&A: Google's Dave Girouard discusses the integration of Postini
and the potential for businesses to build on top of Google's
Google executives are prone to preaching about technologies from
the consumer market that cross over to the business side of the house
to become business productivity tools.
As Vice President and General Manager of Google's Enterprise
business, Dave Girouard stands at the intersection of this crossroad
for Google, and knows all too well about the multi-billion-dollar
potential of selling such products to big businesses with thousands of
Since joining Google in 2004, Girouard's purview has grown from
selling Google's Search Appliances to selling suites of Google Apps
tailored for enterprises.
As a testament to Google's intent to compete with some of the larger
enterprise fish in the market, the company July 9 agreed to buy
security SAAS (software as a service) startup Postini for $625 million.
Essentially, this buy was designed to add a layer of security (and
therefore credibility) to Google's Apps.
Girouard sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Clint Boulton Dec. 12 at
Google's Mountain View, Calif., campus to discuss Postini, Google Apps
and SAAS in the enterprise.
Gmail is the application where you first applied the Postini
assets, adding policy management and message recovery, along with
configurable spam and virus filtering. Are there plans to add the
Postini technologies across the rest of Google Apps, such as Docs,
Spreadsheets and Presentations?
To read more about Google integrating Postini assets into Gmail, click here.
It's a good potential. Postini's been grown around SMPT, e-mail and
instant messaging, but the same concept of policy enforcement and being
able to know what's coming and going certainly applies to Docs and
Spreadsheets and all of that stuff. Those are things that you can do
through APIs but it's an obvious opportunity for us but it's not
something that we're doing for today.
I fundamentally believe-and most people probably think this is crazy
right now-that third-party hosted, Google-hosted information is going
to be more secure than if you host it yourself. The biggest source of
leaks in corporate data is from laptops. Most data leaks are accidents.
For example, if I send you a spreadsheet and I didn't mean to send it
to you, there's no way of undoing that. But if I invited you to look at
a spreadsheet and figured out a minute later, damn, that's that guy
from eWEEK, I didn't want to send it to him, I can just turn it off and
you would not have it.
We really believe there is a chance to move apps that grew up as
consumer apps into a business environment and do that in a pretty
productive way. That's the central thesis of what we're doing today:
letting our infrastructure be available to third parties so they can
build applications. We're doing a fair amount of this between what we
do with Gadgets and what we do with our Maps API and things like that.
You'll continue to see us do more and more of that.
How will that work for the enterprise? If I'm a third-party business and I come to you, what would you offer me?
Today, you could build a mapping application that tracks all of your
trucks and where they are in a day. That's from an enterprise version
of our Maps API. Eventually, somebody could say they want to build
their own project tracking application for the construction industry.
Well, why not be able to run that on Google? It's expensive to build
data centers and install servers even if you use virtualization
technology. Allowing people to leverage our infrastructure is something
we'll do more and more of over time.
Google Apps embraces the SAAS model for collaboration software,
but what is likelihood Google will offer on-demand CRM (customer
relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning) as a
service, a la Salesforce.com?
Read more here about the blurring of the line between consumer and enterprise apps.
I think we're smart enough to realize we're not the guys to build
everything. The things that have consumer analogs make a lot of sense
for us. We learn a huge amount from what consumers do and how they
interact with our products like Gmail. We wouldn't have the advantage
or that insight for CRM. We'd have the infrastructure to do it. But I
think Salesforce.com is very good at what they do so I think we'd be
much more inclined to work with them and others like them.
What are your goals for Google's Apps for the enterprise for 2008?
We're getting amazingly fast traction with small businesses, and now
we're starting to see bigger businesses more. We definitely have some
large businesses that are evaluating or piloting Google Apps. They like
the vision that you ought to have some different types of solutions out
there like Google as alternatives to IBM or Microsoft.
Any of the big guys, like Accenture or IBM Global Services, they all
look at SAAS and it doesn't quite fit their model. They're used to
saying, 'SAP installation, send in the school buses and we'll put
people on site for a year.' SAAS is different, it's easier. What I
would hope and expect in the coming months is that you're going to see
big companies coming out and saying 'we're using Apps and we're using
them to scale.
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