Google Has No Plans to Offer Enterprise Apps, Exec Says

Q&A: Google Apps Senior Product Manager Rajen Sheth discusses competition in cloud computing and messaging and collaboration in an interview with eWEEK. Fixing synchronization issues between Google Apps and Microsoft Outlook is a priority. Sheth also says Google has no plans to dabble in business applications such as CRM.

While Google has key programmers concentrating on hatching products like Google Wave and Google Voice, Google Apps has been a regular Steady Eddie of sorts, with enhancements rolling out one after another. The last one, however, threw Microsoft Outlook users for a loop.

Google June 9 released Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, a synchronization tool that lets Outlook users access their Google Apps e-mail, contacts and calendar through Outlook. Within a week, Microsoft found flaws in the Google Apps Sync tool, including the breakdown of Windows Desktop Search when users install the plug-in. Google has been working on fixes since then.

eWEEK caught up via phone June 23 with Google Apps Senior Product Manager Rajen Sheth, who was in Boston to speak on a cloud computing panel at the Enterprise 2.0 show.

Sheth discussed the Outlook sync problem and the cloud, which for Google consists of hosting software on the Internet and delivering applications to users as an alternative to on-premises applications customers host internally. Sheth also answered the question of whether or not Google will get into enterprise applications.

What was top of mind for you at the Enterprise2.0 show regarding cloud computing?

I've been at shows like this the last couple of years. It feels a lot more real now than in the past. Two years ago, people were thinking of the cloud concept. Last year, people were kicking around products that are out there. Now people are very serious about it and are considering moving major parts of their infrastructure into the cloud. It was also interesting to see the mix of vendors versus customers, that there were more and more customers actually here that are looking into how to adopt this for their corporation.

It has to do with the maturity of the products out there, and the maturity of the concept. People are taking it more as something that has real solid value instead of something for the future. Though I still think people are struggling to get their head around what the cloud is because there is everything from putting infrastructure into the cloud, to application platforms, to full-on applications.

That's what I tried to cover in my pitch: How do you distinguish the various parts of the cloud and how do you think of them? There is this false notion with some corporations that the cloud is about just infrastructure and virtualizing what you have right now and putting it up in someone's infrastructure. There are advantages to that, but they're not as great as when you go further up in the stack, when you start to develop code and deploy it into something like Google App Engine, where you don't have to worry about deploying and clustering a database.