The media sells the Google cloud. The enterprise buys Microsoft on-premises

The cloud is sexy to write about, but the reality is that most CIOs still care about "boring" enterprise solutions like Microsoft's.

There's a big disconnect between what the media likes to write about and what the enterprise likes to buy. I suspect this is largely because the future is a much more interesting topic. Enterprise software might be a great topic for advertisers for Lunesta or Ambien, but it's woefully dull for everyone else.

So, the media talks about PHP and other Web-scripting languages, but stodgy chief information officers continue to buy Java and .Net .

The money is still in on-premise software for Microsoft and others.

And while cloud computing is one of the hottest topics in technology media, the vast majority of IT decisions center on which on-premise software solution to buy.

This is Microsoft's big problem ("We're not sexy! We're addicted to on-premises software!"), as well as its opportunity ("We're not sexy! We're safe!"). Microsoft makes great enterprise software. No, it's not perfect. But Microsoft more than any other company has made great strides to lower the cost of computing for enterprises.

Microsoft is now getting squeezed by open source, but I suspect it would rather compete against Google Apps than open-source software, because Microsoft has one huge advantage over Google, one that Microsoft doesn't have over open source:

Data security.

Google has gone on an advertising blitz to knock off Microsoft Office, as CNET reports , but it faces an uphill battle because the heart of enterprise computing is security. Security is boring, yes, but as ZDNet's Larry Dignan writes, "If you're in a heavily regulated industry you're not going to be e-mailing Google's help desk trying to track a 2006 e-mail to satisfy a Sarbanes-Oxley requirement."

It's possible that this is just a transitory issue that will dissipate with time as the benefits of cloud computing (fungibility of the computing experience with data following users from device to device) overcome its perceived shortcomings.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the San Jose Mercury News that Google has not traditionally had much collaboration with Microsoft, but perhaps it would do well to figure out how to tie Google cloud offerings into Microsoft on-premise solutions, as it's starting to do with its Gmail service that ties into an Outlook front end.

The reality is that Google and Microsoft may have more to gain from stasis in the near term than disrupting each other's businesses.

Regardless, in the short term, no matter how much the media and Google sell the cloud, it remains an add-on to corporate computing, not a replacement strategy.

I'm a believer in the cloud, as there's plenty of evidence that it's growing. But I think Microsoft has near-term threats like open source, and longer-term threats, like Google's cloud strategy.

Google is a threat . But Microsoft has time to improve its Azure story (cloud plus on-premise computing) before it hits the panic button.


Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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