Google has taken a big step towards luring enterprises to use Google Sites instead of Microsoft Sharepoint. Yesterday Google Enterprise Blog announced the release of Google Sites API.
This move not only ensures the potential enterprise adoption of Google
Sites, it also helps Google elevate their entire Google Apps product to
be more attractive for enterprise consumption. So far Google Sites has
had reasonable success in the SMB sector. It helps SMBs to take
advantage of a poweful wiki-like tool for collaboration purposes which
was earlier affordable only to big enterprise customers. Even though
there were many open source wiki projects available, Google Sites is
one of the few cloud hosted versions available for free (Google Apps
Standard Edition) or at a very low cost (Google Apps Premier Edition).
Their pricing is one of the biggest advantages compared to similar
offerings by other providers.
With the Google Sites API, you can
- Retrieve, create, modify, move, and delete pages, comments, attachments, and other content.
- Review the revision history across the Site.
- Monitor all add, modify, and delete activity for a Site.
- Upload/download attachments and files.
- Create customized gadgets for your users.
Some of the use cases as noted in Google’s blog post are
- Update Google Sites from 3rd party applications – e.g.
your sales team’s Google Sites pages can update automatically when new
leads are added to your CRM system.
- Migrate files and content from workspace applications like Microsoft SharePoint and Lotus Notes to Google Sites.
- Export Google Sites pages, edit them offline, and re-import the updated content.
- Export your sites, including every page revision, for backup.
- Easily monitor changes across your important internal and public sites, all from a single gadget.
- Push new content like changes to employee policies or a
new corporate logo to any site on your domain, even sites created by
This is clearly an attack by Google targeting Microsoft Sharepoint
users. Google is not the first SaaS company to target Sharepoint. Zoho
(disclaimer: Zoho is a sponsor of this blog but this is my independent
opinion) has already targeted Sharepoint users with Zoho Share, a centralized document repository service, and Zoho Office For Microsoft Sharepoint, an option to edit documents with Zoho Office Suite but store inside the firewall using Microsoft Sharepoint.
Unlike Zoho, Google is trying to root out users from Sharepoint and
bring them into their service completely. Already a Google Apps
ecosystem partner, Ltech, has released an app to move data out of sharepoint into Google Sites.
Apart from the sharepoint angle and the potential for enterprise
attraction, the API is very interesting to me because SMBs and
individuals can leverage Google Sites in ways that was not possible
earlier.Google recently announced Data Liberation Front,
an engineering task force set up with an aim of allowing users to be in
control of their data and take it with them wherever they go, a point I have been advocating ever since Facebook and other social networks started attracting people like me.
Google Sites API offers an opportunity for developers to create apps
that will help users have complete control over their data. Already,
there is an open source tool for import/export of Google Sites in HTML microformats (a good backup tools for Google Sites users).
It is just a matter of time before there are apps that help users
modify their data in any way they want and mashup with other web
applications. I see tremendous potential for Google Sites to empower
users, big and small, in ways that is not possible with many other
Microsoft has to clearly watch out here because there is a
multi-pronged attack on their Sharepoint product. Google is developing
Google Sites into a powerhouse to take on Sharepoint. Zoho is also
chipping away Microsoft’s hold in this segment. We should not ignore
the powerful offerings by Mindtouch in this space too. Their flexible
on-premise and on-demand approach can be very attractive to many
enterprise users. These are interesting times in this space and Google
just revved up the competition with this API announcement.