While digging through some older posts, I came across the “Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook” release announcement from 18 months ago. Google recently released version 2.5 of the product just over 1 week ago. An open question was how Microsoft would respond. Windows Live was the response. The functionality matched Google Apps for email, contacts and calendar. Windows Live versions of the Office suite have followed.

Exchange has long been a category killer for Microsoft. Google is going for the jugular. The most obvious objection to Google Apps will be “our guys love Outlook.” You do not hear much about the product, yet it is still being updated while scores of other Google projects bite the dust. Windows Live did go through a major upgrade over the summer. I use the Windows Live email for one of my accounts. I have been a happy gMail user for years, but wanted to see how the service matched up. The summer upgrade helped tremendously. No longer will emails from the same domain end up in my spam folder. The down side was that I lost 6 months of emails in the upgrade. Nothing terribly important, but occasionally, I find myself searching for one of those lost messages.

The Google vs Microsoft enterprise battle is just starting to heat up. Will be interesting to see what this looks like in a year.

Joke: “Why did it take God 7 days to create the Earth?”

Answer: “Because He did not have the install base.”

This “joke” was all too common in my house growing up. Dad ran an enterprise software company.

Amazon, Microsoft and Google are all competing for the cloud. Each is taking a different approach. Google is targeting the enterprise through its application suites and the ability to host email through Gmail. It is a very cool feature that I use and love. It is much more consistent than the Microsoft offering that I also use to access my University of Washington accounts. I do have to question the readiness of the enterprise and the cloud; however, when I see advertisements from Google touting their enterprise presence with a customer list full of universities. It is more likely that the raw horsepower of the cloud that Amazon provides is the immediate future of the enterprise. Applications will evolve from that. Interestingly enough Amazon launched Simple Email Service (SES) into the AWS family this week.

What it’s not willing to compromise is the security of the cloud, on which its entire business rests.
~ Nicholas Carr

Carr is spot on, again.

Check the full article here: Nicholas Carr: Rough Type

UPDATE 1/17

Another fine read on the topic from Forbes. Different take. Google has been beat by Baidu. This incident put the issue over the top.

Article here Forbes: Why Google Is Quitting China

Taking a look back on Cloud Service Level Agreements (SLA) from approximately a year ago and seeing what has changed for the enterprise. The SLA is nothing new and have existed in information technology for many, many years. I can tell you firsthand that SLA remains critical to the selling proposition. The questions on uptime, outages and compensation do not have easy answers. It would be nice to see an industry standard on what 99.999% actually means.

The SLA is now out in the open to all users of a cloud utility. There is still an lingering question of uptime. Two significant changes in the past year have been the introduction of new cloud services, like Windows Azure, and the mass adoption of Twitter to report uptime experience in real time.You still do not have a meter or gauge detailing realtime usage or uptime. Concerns still remain around what actually constitutes an outage? A period of time? As a client, how would you prove it? If there was an outage and the client could prove it, how does the client receive compensation? These questions can be answered in as many ways as there are cloud or cloud application providers. It will be interesting to see how improvements to the cloud improve SLAs in 2010.

Amazon AWS announced Spot Instances of EC2 a few weeks back. I have been very interested in this concept. Auction pricing should be natural for the cloud computing utility model. They will be selling spare capacity from moment to moment. The cloud is attractive since servers often site idle. Sharing that resource makes sense. “Spots” are an extension of the concept to keep AWS at full utilization. Win for AWS and customers. I look forward to seeing how this play out during 2010!

Great read on the Spot Market by Jonathan Boutelle, cofounder of Slideshare @ Gaming the Amazon Spot Market

More information on the AWS Blog: Amazon Web Services Blog

Interesting reading. Worth checking this out. Some “real” posts coming soon.

Economist.com: Cloud Computing Debate

Solid read on the state of the cloud @ Fortune Brainstorm Tech: A kinder, gentler cloud.

Check it out.

Just got an invite to a webinar co-hosted by Cast Iron Systems and Amazon AWS. I have been intrigued by Cast Iron’s integration offering for the enterprise for sometime. Their initial concept of an integration appliance has played well in the market and they now offer full cloud based services as well. Most enterprises are finding the real challenge of “going cloud” to be the integration points inside their firewall. The Cast Iron appliance does a real nice job of bridging that gap. Their Salesforce.com solution is rock solid. The next logical step is to bridge that gap to Salesforce.com partner and leading utility cloud player Amazon AWS. The webinar should be interesting and worth checking out.

You can register for the webinar here.

Disclosure: The wife is employed by Amazon, but she steadfastly refuses to read my blog.

Great read today over at the Cloudscaling Blog on Cloud Standards. Check it out.

Cloudscaling: VMware’s vCloud API Forces Cloud Standards

Interesting read and follow up to My $0.02 post yesterday on Read Write Web about SaaS provider Zoho and VMWare partnering to provide on-site versions of Zoho’s SaaS suite. Go where the market takes you. Smart move.

Read Write Web: Zoho Partners with VMware for Collaboration Behind the Firewall