Google "will continue to double down and triple down on the Google Enterprise business because the market opportunity is huge, and will grow dramatically for the foreseeable future," Tony Safoian, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Google partner SADA Systems, told CRN.
Safoian sees the market shifting so that Google's enterprise cloud products will comfortably coexist with Microsoft platforms and technologies.
Other successful cloud software vendors have strong relationships with Microsoft, Safoian said, citing Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP and BMC, "and Google will be no different."
Allen Falcon, CEO of longtime Google partner Cumulus Global, told CRN that Microsoft's status "as a major incumbent" in the enterprise puts the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant at a disadvantage where "the best Microsoft can do is the status quo."
Microsoft will fight to avoid losing mind-share and market share as Google and other companies bring fresh, innovative solutions to the market, Falcon said.
"Microsoft's strategy has been to grow the breadth of services through a closed ecosystem," Falcon said. "It all works because it's all Microsoft. As other vendors challenge parts of this ecosystem and companies begin to pick and choose, Microsoft's strategy will need to respond."
David Northington, CEO of Atlanta-based solution provider Cloud Sherpas, has plenty of experience selling Google's cloud to business customers.
"Cloud Sherpas built a business working with visionary CIOs to help them recognize the potential of bringing Google's consumer-grade applications to the enterprise," Northington told CRN. "As enterprises face complex Microsoft enterprise agreement renewals and hefty price increases, it's no surprise to us that they are choosing Google Enterprise solutions for their business. It's simply pragmatic."
Lane Campbell sits on the board of Chicago-based solution provider Durmic Consulting, which is a Google and Microsoft reseller, giving him unique insight into the rivalry.
The way Campbell sees it, Google's advantage is that it has built a platform from the ground up for the age of cloud computing.
"If they say it has a feature, then it's there and it works great," Campbell told CRN.
On the other hand, "Microsoft has forced their legacy platform forward from the days of in-house IT taking care of everything. It was built for legacy environments and, while it has been updated to be used in the Office 365 environment, it's still nowhere near as reliable nor as polished as Google's system," Campbell said.
Enterprises looking for compatibility with legacy apps and devices that worked with Exchange Server likely will migrate through to Office 365, but those looking for stability and reliability will find their way to Google Apps, Campbell said.
"The way the world looks today is going to be very different from the way the world looks in five years. Businesses are thinking about which software partner they want to bet on to take them to the future, [which is where] the innovation's going to be," Google's Goldfarb said.
"With all the work, you have a really compelling portfolio solution that enterprises can subscribe to and change the way they do business, and that's really different from the portfolio solutions you see from others," he said.
But Microsoft partners like Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus IT, think Google "might have it backward."
NEXT: Being Enterprise-Strong