Washington, May 11 : Software as a service and cloud computing might not ring a bell for many today, but that's what is going to rule the roost in future for corporate giants. And with Google unveiling a re-branded Web Security for Enterprise, it has raced ahead of Microsoft in taking a major step towards the future.
Traditional desktop applications, e-mail, word processing, and calendars, which are considered to be Microsoft's domain, have now been put into the cloud, and with this step Google has relieved corporations of the administrative burden of having to buy hardware, install software, and hire people to maintain.
The technology, Web Security for Enterprise, is based on the Postini technology Google acquired last year.
This Web-based service protects corporate Web and e-mail users from viruses, spyware, and malicious Web sites, and will also provide protection directly to remote workers if needed.
All this is part of Google's hosted apps business, and is mainly aimed at corporate customers instead of consumers who expect, and get, hosted services for free.
With corporations doing away with the administrative burden of having to buy hardware, install software, and hire people to maintain it, the costs for them will be greatly reduced. This would allow them to focus on their core businesses.
By enhancing the security of its hosted offerings, Google has removed a large hurdle to widespread corporate adoption of its hosted services.
"Securing the current enterprise environment is futile. This is a problem Microsoft should have fixed a long time ago," CNetnews.com quoted Philippe Courtot, chief executive of Qualys, which offers security as a service to corporations, as saying in an interview.
He also predicted that with an arsenal of search, Web-hosted apps and the advertising-supported "money-making machine...Google is going to kill Microsoft."
Nitesh Dhanjani, senior manager and leader of application security services at Ernst and Young said that Google's offering is compelling for corporations because of the ease with which they can be up and running without any IT headaches.
"Microsoft says 'here's the software.' Google says 'it's already there; we just create the accounts and you can start today. We're seeing, from an IT perspective, that in the next couple of years services will move into the cloud, even security services, so Google is really thinking ahead,'" said Dhanjani.
Paul Roberts, senior analyst for enterprise security at The 451 Group said that Microsoft certainly recognizes this trend. It turned its FrontBridge acquisition into Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, which includes security. But the software giant doesn't have a pure, software-as-a-service-based messaging security platform like Google or MessageLabs.
"Microsoft clearly sees the light that the Web and the Internet are the OS (operating system) of the future and that selling shrink-wrapped software isn't going to be feasible," said Roberts.
Peter Firstbrook, a program director at Gartner, summed it up this way: "I wouldn't ring the bells yet, but it is another feather in Google's cap; another service they can offer so that they become more strategic to their customers."