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Google's pursuit of the enterprise takes center stage

Lest anyone be confused, Google is hell-bent on wedging its way into the enterprise software conversation of the future, devoting much of its first Google I/O keynote to businesses.

Google Kevin Gibbs
Google's Kevin Gibbs makes his pitch for business application developers at Google I/O in San Francisco.
James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Google's pitch for the enterprise continued Wednesday at Google I/O, as the search giant attempted to make the case that businesses should be considering Web-based technologies for their own applications--not just Google's.

Day One of the Google I/O show was a disappointment to anyone looking for news about Google's Android mobile operating system or reported "Google TV" platform. But those who were in San Francisco's Moscone Center for more information about how they can incorporate HTML5 technologies into their own application-development practices got an earful.

"The Web is ready for enterprise-class Web development," said Vic Gundotra, vice president for engineering at Google, in a press conference following the introductory keynote. With the announcement of services such as Google App Engine for Business--which lets large businesses take advantage of Google's application-hosting infrastructure--Google is extending its outreach to the business community as their next big partner.

The push unites two big strategies at Google: the evangelization of the Web--rather than an operating system--as a software development platform, and a corresponding pushto get businesses onto the Web. Both fit into Google's model of getting as many people possible on the Web rather than on closed networks within corporations, and raise the possibility that Google could sell extra services and support around those ideas to develop the long-sought revenue stream outside of search advertising.

Google is making some progress on getting businesses to think about cloud computing, but it has had less success getting companies to outsource their application hosting to Google. With that in mind, it made several changes designed to woo those companies, said Kevin Gibbs, technical lead at Google on the Google App Engine team.

First and foremost, Google made the pricing simpler: it will cost businesses $8 per user per month to store their application on Google App Engine, with a maximum of $1,000 per application. Google will also support SQL databases--which drew a cheer from the crowd--and better management features.

Amazon is the company most application developers think of when they want to employ this kind of service. Google thinks a partnership with VMware gives it an edge, allowing Google App Engine customers to use VMware's virtualization technology to deploy their application in a number of different forums, rather than just within Google's services.

Will it attract more business customers? Developers interviewed over lunch seemed mixed on the idea, as many are still wrapping their heads around the concept of trusting application hosting to a third party, and some companies, such as defense industry contractors, laugh at the notion.

However, despite all the clamor for consumer-friendly technologies such as Android, Google TV, or Chrome OS, Google's decision to devote nearly an entire morning to enterprise Web development is another sign that it wants to be considered as an enterprise services player.