How close is Google Apps (with Sites) to Microsoft’s SharePoint?

(cross posting from Mike Riversdale’s “Enterprise 2.0 New Zealand style” blog)

My answer to the question in the title – not very but Google Sites (Apps) is travelling to the same destination as SharePoint but along a very different path.

A little background reading for those new to both Google Apps with Google Site and/or SharePoint.

Google Apps is Google’s web-based collaboration platform.
It is aimed at organisations/groups/teams and brings together its separate applications more commonly used by individuals such as GMail, iGoogle, Chat, Calendar and Docs.
Sites is the newly released application allowing users to create “wiki” sites built upon their JotSpot purchase.

SharePoint is Microsoft’s enterprise-wide collaboration platform.
Last year they release version 2007 (also known as MOSS) that enhanced the usability, more closely tied in with the Office 2007 produces (Word, Excel …) and integrated common ‘social software’ type applications such wikis, blogs and limited ‘social networking’.

Back to the question.
My experience with both is extensive.

I have clients that have both introduced MOSS and I am at the end of the technological/cultural upgrade of MOSS that has taken (on and off, mostly on) the better part of 6 months).

Google Apps is something I use for my own business and personal documentation.
Google Apps is also the means which my wife runs her Vista Coaching company and I am her “IT Department”

The release of Google Sites is another small step to Google offering a completely web-based collaboration suite/platform. With the release of Google Apps for Teams (review) they are slowly but surely removing the barriers for users (and I mean ‘users’, not ‘IT Departments’) that stand in the way of them being used within organisations.

Google Sites is another piece of the jigsaw.

However it is a rough outline of the piece and by no means a complete piece that will have organisations jumping out of the corporate walls … yet.

For my breakdown of the Google Sites v Microsoft SharePoint 2007

(Google Sites) better than (MOSS):

  • Built on the web and then fundamentally “connected”
    the biggest difference in world view between both the products and probably the company’s delivering them
  • Built from the consumer world view
    therefore “just works” and not “weighty” like SharePoint can seem
  • Easier to get going for starter/basic/intermediate users
  • Integration with Google Accounts (Apps) is complete – Docs, Mail, Calendar, Website etc etc

Worse than:

  • Less customisability (but watch that space, particularly around “Gadgets” ;-)
  • No connections to other corporate information (no “DBC”)
  • Integration with Microsoft Office (particularly 2007) is extremely tight with MOSS
    (a pro or a con really)
  • No formalised records management
  • No work flow – I see this as only a small issue as most people don’t really care/want it

(I am sure I will enhance this list as I gain more insight)

Other views and reviews on the recent Google Sites announcement with comparisons to Microsoft SharePoint:

2 Comments
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  • Nice post, Mike. I’d be interested in hearing how today’s hosted exchange/sharepoint evolves your perspective. It doesn’t change mine at all. And frankly, its fantastic that Google is putting their heavily resourced attention on Sharepoint. Their wiki isn’t even in the same galaxy but it opens options up for customers that needed an excuse.

    FWIW, I just posted on this, too. Check it out: http://gobigalways.com/google-meet-glass-ceiling/

    Cheers,
    sam

  • Thanks.

    I don’t think hosting SharePoint would make much difference except for the IT resources that move from inside the company to outside. The difference is in the fundamental approach to the products – one is still fairly stand-alone (a bit of s/w installed on a server and that’s what you use), the other is built on the Internet and therefore connected.
    To be fair to both they are both closed walls to a degree AND both companies are moving as fast as possible to extend the walls if not make them totally permeable.

    Yeah, both “wikis” are a bit average compared to the standalone wikis. However people don’t want a “wiki”, they want to place information into a bucket that others can find, link to and use … both are OK at that.

    Read your post, very cool – have subscribed to ya :-)

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