Office? That is the question on the minds of many CIOs today.
Microsoft has long dominated the e-mail, collaboration and office tools market, and its customer list dwarfs that of Google and all other competitors. But despite the presence of well-established alternatives such as OpenOffice and IBM's Lotus Notes, some industry analysts believe Google may pose the strongest long-term threat to Microsoft's office dominance.
"Google is still a wannabe, but they're Google so this is a very strong challenger," says Laura DiDio, lead analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp (ITIC). Tech Debate: Google Gmail vs. hosted Microsoft Exchange
Why should a business choose Google over Microsoft? Google is inexpensive, at $50 per user per year. Employees are often familiar with Gmail, so user training shouldn't be too burdensome. Outsourcing IT functions to Google lets businesses reduce internal IT expenditures and wasted time maintaining servers and applications. With Google, businesses get the basic productivity tools of e-mail, calendaring, and document creation and editing, as well as a Web site builder, private video sharing and other functions. (See related article, "Google Apps basics"