Google's DNA is "primarily consumer Web," said O'Brien, noting that when the vendor agreed to allow Los Angeles to make a quick migration to another provider, it might not have considered the problems associated with such a move and the switching costs involved.
A major issue in cloud services is avoiding vendor lock-in by having application and data portability. There are no established means of accomplishing that, and O'Brien doesn't see agreements for them arriving quickly.
"There isn't one single center of gravity for cloud standards in the industry today," said O'Brien, who nonetheless says that Microsoft would embrace portability "because it levels the playing the field with vendors."
Genentech, a South San Francisco-based biotechnology company, adopted Google Apps for its 16,000 corporate users in 2007 but let the users decide whether they wanted to move to Google Docs. About 8,000 now use Docs.
The company's IT approach is give its users choices where possible, said Todd Pierce, senior vice president of IT at Genentech. "People will choose things that will really work for them," he said.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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This story, "Microsoft Office 2010 Throws Down Google Gauntlet" was originally published by Computerworld.