"Google hasn't been able to put together a set of features that are important enough to enterprises to make them shift," Creese says.
Thus, CIOs aren't rushing to adopt Apps Premier, and those who decide to deploy it, are opting to do so for a limited set of users and for operations that aren't critical to the business. This is true even among CIOs who have embraced SaaS applications as viable alternatives to on-premise software.
Health-care company The Schumacher Group has used hosted applications successfully for well over two years from vendors such as Salesforce.com and Oracle's PeopleSoft, and is now about to deploy Apps Premier, but not as a replacement to its Exchange/Office environment, which its about 750 full-time employees use.
Instead, The Schumacher Group, which provides management services for hospital emergency rooms, plans to buy Apps Premier licenses for the about 2,400 physicians and nurses that it works with as independent contractors.
"We'll use Apps Premier to create an environment that doesn't exist now, but as far as replacing Exchange and Office, we're not at that level yet," said The Schumacher Group Chief Information Officer Douglas Menefee.
Part of the problem is that Apps Premier can't meet the company's regulatory compliance requirements for handling patient data, Menefee said. However, it looks like a good option to provide e-mail, calendar and office collaboration software at a low cost and in a convenient hosted manner to these doctors and nurses, he said.
The decision to go with Apps Premier, as opposed to another hosted option, is 99 percent certain, barring any architectural problems that might prevent the users from accessing the software through the hospitals' networks. A pilot phase with portion of the doctors may start in about a month, he said.
And so as Google celebrates its 10th birthday and its unquestionable dominance of the search engine ad market, which has propelled it to stratospheric financial success, it looks at a major challenge and unanswered questions in enterprise software.
"It's hard to break into the enterprise business," Koplowitz said. "Will Google sign those big customers that represent big revenue and continued investment in this area? Google certainly can afford it, but that doesn't mean they won't decide to refocus their resources in their core business. That's definitely a fair question to ask of Google. I don't think Google is having cold feet yet but time will tell if they're in this for the long term."
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