In the red corner: public cloud computing multinational and internet search behemoth, Google.
In the blue: global development giant, manufacturer, and software licenser, Microsoft.
The prize: SMEs.
Ok, so the big boys competing for the small business space isn’t exactly new. However, according to research from Forrester, as more enterprises warm-up to cloud-based email, the battle for hearts and minds is about to commence. And there’s a definite “hook ’em while they’re young” approach at work here.
The theory is that cloud-based email will be the entry point for SMEs into other cloud-based services – a leap many have so far been wary to take. For every £1 spent on email, a further £5 could be made further down the line on collaboration and communication services, so the reasoning goes.
“Microsoft and Google are happy to outbid each other to win your e-mail business because they know there’s more money to be made in conferencing, team sites, videoconferencing and social software,” said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester.
But this is not the first round of the fight. Google threw a powerful punch in Microsoft’s direction in 2006 when it launched its apps suite, encroaching on a space that the software firm had traditionally dominated since the 90s. So far Google claims more than two million businesses use its Google Apps Enterprise Edition product. Microsoft responded by moving into the cloud with Microsoft Office Live.
Of course, Linux’s Open Office has long been a rival to Microsoft products, but is arguably less well supported than Google’s offering.
The business enterprise market is undoubtedly changing, especially as more small businesses get used to the idea of moving from a capex cost-base to an opex one.
But there may be many more rounds still left before an overall winner is declared – which is great news for SMEs looking for the best deals.