Google Exec Coaxes IT Managers Toward Online Software

Speaking to a group of high tech leaders in Boston this week, Dave Girouard, vice president and general manger for enterprise at Google, said IT managers spend too much time managing their software applications. The presentation inadvertently took aim at Microsoft's new rollout of software including its Vista operating system and its Office 2007.

"A lot of things that people think of as core IT functions need to disappear into the ether so that the IT organization can properly focus on the value-added," said Girouard, according to one report.

Google has been cobbling together various applications that users can already use if they want to install them one-at-a-time. These are centered on its Google Docs and Spreadsheets, which can be linked to Google's e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP, calendar, and other applications.

"Google is designing its offerings to decrease (software) on PCs," said Stephen Arnold, managing director of IT consultancy Arnold IT Wednesday. "Microsoft is designing its offerings to increase software on PCs."

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Arnold explained that the Microsoft approach requires IT managers and technologists at businesses to expend great effort to install and manage the software colossus' software.

Girouard, who made his comments at a meeting of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, argued that users should be less cautious and be willing to turn over more of the applications to Google.

Arnold, who has written the book The Google Legacy: How Google's Internet Search is Transforming Application Software and is writing another, said that Google's office software efforts including Google Docs and Spreadsheets are too rudimentary to currently represent a challenge to Microsoft Office 2007. In recent months, however, Google has shown interest in acquiring ThinkFree Corp., which markets a robust suite of office applications that mimics Microsoft's office software.

While Google has been publicly assembling its various Google Apps, Girouard's comments generally went farther in discussing the firm's bundling strategy. He said Google plans eventually to package applications in a premium bundle and offer a paid version to businesses. "Google's approach is absolutely transformational," said Arnold, looking at the future more than the present.