Google itself concedes that any overnight success in the enterprise is unrealistic, yet remains fully committed to the enterprise, citing rapid growth in Google Apps' short three-year life span.
"Google Apps have only been in the market since 2007 and we've gone from zero to two million business customers," says Rajen Sheth, Google's senior product manager for Google Apps. "There's so much potential here and we're in it for the long haul."
Where Microsoft is trying to migrate its products into a cloud environment, Google is fundamentally a cloud company, says Sheth, and has gone to great pains to build extremely large data centers designed specifically for nimble Web-based applications.
"It will be tough to build up the cloud expertise that's been built into Google's DNA since day one," Sheth says.
Would Microsoft Be All In for Cloud if Not for Google?
Still, the reality of today's enterprise is that Google Apps are simply not a wholesale replacement technology for Microsoft Office, says Ted Schadler, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.
"You may see enterprises move to Google for e-mail, but rarely will you see them replacing Microsoft Office with Google Docs," says Schadler, adding that Google Apps collaboration features such as Google Sites and Google Talk will likely be used only to enhance Microsoft Office.
"Google Apps will continue to have success with its collaboration and mobile features that augment Office in the enterprise. But I don't see it displacing Microsoft Office in any meaningful way," he says.
One thing is for sure though -- Google is heavily invested in its enterprise cloud play and although it may not have a critical mass behind it yet, it has forced Microsoft to adjust its entire business model.
It's worth asking: Would Microsoft be "All In" for cloud computing if there were no Google?
This story, "Microsoft Office, Google Apps Ready for a Business Brawl" was originally published by CIO.