Now that Microsoft has launched a bid for Skype, many in the industry are waiting for the other proverbial Google shoe to drop.
Google allies report that they expect the company to expand its Google Apps service in the cloud to include a variety of unified communications services. Mark Wood, vice president of product management for Cloud Sherpas, a provider of IT management tools for Google applications in the cloud, doesn't know exactly when that will happen, but he fully expects it sooner than later given the amount of interest among customers.
This week at the Google I/O conference, Cloud Sherpas upgraded its SherpaTools for GoogleApps to add the ability to narrow which groups of users, known as constituents, any given systems administrator is allowed to support, which is intended to help companies better deal with compliance and privacy issues associated with IT help desk personnel.
Wood notes that more customers than ever are thinking about both email and unified communications-as-a-service that you contract for rather than something you buy and install. None of this is lost on Google, which with the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft, probably now sees a potential opportunity to convert customers that are distrustful of Microsoft to at least try any new potential Google service that would probably be tightly coupled with GoogleTalk.
Longer term, there will still be plenty of challenges when it comes to integrating UC services in the cloud with any number of offerings that have been deployed on premise. The good news is that the pace of innovation is picking up in terms of deploying UC services in the cloud, especially when you take into account Microsoft's ambitions for Skype. The bad news is that aforementioned integration headaches will be upon us sooner than most IT organizations are going to be ready to manage.