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Predictions for 2008: Sharepoint will disappoint, Google will seek omnipotence

Google and Microsoft are looking for ways to lock in customers. At least one will face some opposition in 2008.

CMS Watch makes 12 predictions for 2008, two of which stand out based on things I've covered on this blog. The first has to do with Sharepoint, that lightweight Microsoft portal and content repository that seeks to lock enterprises once and for all into Microsoft. CMS Watch predicts a backlash:

The backlash will be two-fold. First larger enterprises will exhibit major compliance and litigation discovery issues across numerous unmanaged and unaccountable SharePoint locations. You will also see a backlash against sizable development costs and times to build maintainable applications in the MOSS environment. With the more complex SharePoint projects struggling to launch, customers are realizing a disconnect between Redmond's heavy promotion and the realities of a product that is significantly less out-of-the-box than most expect.

But we expect this from Microsoft and eventually from its customers. The more frightening prediction concerns Google, the data-hungry "do no evil" company that CMS Watch predicts will find new ways to pull users into its cloud:

Seeing the enormous archiving opportunity, and leveraging their own unique computing capacities, Google will offer to store anyone's data, of any kind (in any quantity), and make it queryable via SQL, XQuery, keyword search, and/or other options. We suspect Google will try to convince you to use your existing storage (whatever it is: file system, database, etc.) as a cache, with The Truth stored on Google servers somewhere in the great Google cloud. For many smaller enterprises, this could be attractive proposition, but as Google has already learned in other applications, searching the web and reliably storing enterprise information are two very different businesses.

This seems entirely plausible to me. Google understands that the future of lock-in is data, is content. The more content/data one holds about a person or company, the more likely that person/company will be compelled to do business with a vendor.

Google seeks to lock-in customers through sheer size of its data repository. Sharepoint through proprietary formats blocking exit from its repository. Neither is particularly appetizing for customers.

Disclosure: I work for Alfresco, an open-source content collaboration alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint.