Google and Software-as-a-Service
Steve Gillmor looks ahead to what we can we expect from the likes of Google and Microsoft:
One way to handicap Google is to deconstruct the notion that Googles intellectual property is bound solely to search. In fact, its bound to the emerging platform known as software-as-a-service. Fellow IPO salesforce.com offers a hosted software service, which can easily plug into legacy enterprise systems. The underlying fabric for enabling software-as-a-service is XML Web services, which are commoditizing the cost of integrating disparate hardware and software systems, and enabling a service-oriented architecture (SOA).
A new browser-based services fabric such as Googles not only makes it possible for companies to avoid the big-ticket costs of deploying applications inside the firewall, but could allow supply-chain partners to take advantage of a common architecture across enterprise domains. Security and application updates are centralized without the need to touch multiple clients, and companies can shift from managing IT as a cost center to developing revenue sources from packaging and syndicating corporate data along the supply chain.
Googles home-grown infrastructurea powerful, highly scalable server farm built on standards-based, open code, the virtualized extension of Scott McNealys famous big honking Webtone switch–also gives the company a strategic advantage. Google is the very personification of software as a service, with huge brand recognition and a vibrant business model that is rapidly sucking plenty of the oxygen out of traditional media advertising revenue models.
In moving toward this software-as-a-service platform, Google has some interesting partners-in-waiting-the carriers and their partners (Sun, Motorola, Nokia), the increasingly Web-focused broadband players (TiVo, SBC, Dish Network) who are circumventing cable and record companies with direct-from-Web downloads to personal video recorders, and micro-content creators (exercise left to the reader.)