Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint Plug-in Links SAAS, On-Premises Apps

Zoho, a maker of SAAS messaging and collaboration and enterprise applications, unveils Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint to let Zoho Office users create documents and save them to SharePoint. The plug-in is Zoho's latest bid to create bridges between SAAS and the on-premises world as the AdventNet subsidiary competes with cloud computing providers Google and Salesforce.com and desktop application providers Oracle and Microsoft.

In the latest marriage of the cloud computing and on-premises software worlds, Zoho June 23 released Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint, a software module that will let Zoho Office users create new documents and save them to SharePoint in Microsoft Office formats.

The plug-in, which users can see demonstrated here, will also allow users to read SharePoint documents using Zoho SAAS (software as a service) applications such as Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show, and edit documents in Zoho Apps and save them to SharePoint.

The Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint add-in also makes use of SharePoint's sharing permissions so that multiple users can work on and make real-time changes to documents, spreadsheets and presentations. While editing files, users can also chat with colleagues via Zoho Chat.

Business users who have SharePoint installed behind their corporate firewalls will be able to view and edit documents using Zoho's online applications. IT managers might ask: Does that mean Zoho sucks in corporate data through SharePoint to comb over?

No. After changes, the documents are saved back to the SharePoint server behind the corporate firewall without leaving the data on Zoho's servers. When a user opens a document, a copy is transferred temporarily and securely to Zoho servers. When the document is closed, it is permanently deleted from Zoho servers.

The integration is significant to Zoho users for a couple of reasons. First, in hooking Zoho Office to SharePoint, Zoho is tying in to the leading on-premises collaboration suite in the market, one that garners over $1 billion a year in revenues for its instant messaging, video conferencing and other tools.

Second, Zoho Evangelist Raju Vegnesa told eWEEK the integration will appeal to enterprises that want to keep their data behind the firewall, but still take advantage of the collaboration capabilities of online applications. "This is best of both worlds for such businesses," Vegnesa said.

Beginning June 23, customers of Microsoft SharePoint 2003 and 2007 can install the add-on to their Microsoft SharePoint Server to integrate the Zoho Office Suite with SharePoint. Zoho is inviting users to try a 30-day evaluation version for unlimited users. After the 30-day trial period expires, users will pay $3 per user per month, or $2 per user per month for a yearly subscription.

Zoho, a division of AdventNet, hosts Web-based applications on its own servers, including SAAS enterprise applications that compete with the likes of applications from Salesforce.com and SAAS collaboration applications that compete with Google Apps.

SAAS providers such as Salesforce.com, Google and Zoho not only compete with each other, they also compete with traditional software makers that sell applications that customers install on their own servers. These options include enterprise applications from Oracle and Microsoft and collaboration applications from IBM and Microsoft.