Will Google Wave reshape enterprise IT?

Google Wave may be too far ahead of its time to win over businesses, but it should find a ready use as a tool for facilitating the development of enterprise applications.

Google blew the minds of developers with the introduction of its innovative Google Wave, a new approach to real-time content collaboration, but its odds of breezing into enterprise computing anytime soon remain remote.

Within enterprise IT departments, starved for compelling ways to collaborate on application development, however, Google Wave may find a ready audience.

Enterprise computing remains in the Stone Age, by modern standards, a topic nicely addressed by the Financial Times recently. While the consumer Internet offers diverse ways to connect (via Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and other services), the enterprise remains somewhat buttoned-down, relegated to Microsoft Exchange and the occasional fling with IBM's Lotus.

Pardon me while I stifle a yawn.

This isn't necessarily Microsoft's or IBM's fault, of course. Both offer other products that push the envelope on enterprise computing. But it's hard for enterprises to easily digest rapid-fire innovation, and it's not exactly easy for software vendors to recoup investments in groundbreaking innovations, either, as RedMonk's Stephen O'Grady noted in his review of Google Wave:

We don't see a lot of dramatic leaps forward in software, I'd argue, both because it's exceedingly difficult to develop and launch revolutionary products, and because the economics act against it.

It's difficult, of course, to produce them: how many vendors can afford the indulgence of turning high-quality resources loose on a multiyear project with no clear revenue plan in place? But it can be even more difficult to market (or sell such revolutionary products) because, well, they're not what people are used to, and they take some explaining.

So, given that Google Wave may have moved much further than most enterprises are able to willing to accept, at least for now, what good is it?

Most of the world's software is...written by enterprises for internal use.

Equitas IT Solutions' Ryan Cartwright suggests an answer. He indicates that Wave offers "the chance to...make a big improvement in the way we develop free software."

He's absolutely right, but why stop there?

Most of the world's software is not written by open-source software developers, nor is it written by Microsoft or other traditional software vendors. It's written by enterprises for internal use. As such, if Google Wave has the potential to facilitate software development by facilitating real-time collaboration on code--and it does--then why not unleash its potential within enterprise application development?

Google Wave may well crash on the shore of enterprise adoption, but I suspect that it may well roll into the enterprise, anyway, as a code collaboration tool deployed by enterprise IT for its own use. Eventually, that "personal" consumption should trickle out to business users clamoring for their enterprise-computing experience to catch up with their consumer-computing world.

This could be Google's game to lose.


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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