Google and the 'Enterprise Difference': It's the SLAs, Stupid.

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Turns out Microsoft isn't the biggest hurdle for Google to overcome on its road to viability as an enterprise software provider. It's Google itself -- or rather, its inability to live up to service level agreements.


The ability to meet SLAs was one of the biggest question marks when the search giant rolled out a fee-based version of Google Apps earlier this year, which included a guarantee of 99.99 percent uptime. Based on this PC World article, it doesn't sound like Google has the right answers yet.


At least some business users of Google Apps lost access to Gmail as many as three times last month, according to the article. An executive with Prudential Preferred Properties, one of the affected companies, attributes the outage to "growing pains." However, he says "it's not something (the company) can live with" if it becomes a reoccurring issue.


Offering further proof that Google does not yet "get" the difference between consumer and enterprise software, Google sent Prudential an alert hours after the company had already noticed the problem. Another user complains that while Google customer support agents are accessible and friendly, they are also "pretty much useless."


ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright taps performance outages and Google's inability to respond to them as one of three "mega traps" that could not only cause Google to abandon the enteprise market, but also damage the reputation of other software-as-a-service providers, to boot.


Indeed, traditional software providers like SAP like to play the "outage card" in their dismissals of SaaS competitors.


Google, which is offering companies a free trial of the Premier edition of Google Apps throughout this month, says it has "resolved the problem."


Maybe, maybe not. But this nugget from a recent CIO.com survey seems to prove that few CIOs are buying what Google is selling. Forty-six percent of respondents say it's "not very likely" that they will consider Google as a supplier of enterprise-worthy software, while 27.4 percent say it's "not at all very likely."