Industry observer Doug Henschen recently sat down for an interview with Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of Microsoft's (News - Alert) Office Business Productivity Group, who summed up Google's cloud telephony-based approach to desktop productivity and collaboration as "confusing."
DelBene described Microsoft's strategy to Henschen as "focused and consistent, offering 'full-fidelity viewing' across on-premise, Internet-based and mobile platforms."
As Henschen said, it's natural to hear Microsofties playing up their advantages, like "Office's ubiquity and Redmond's offering of both PC and cloud-based apps," but he was a bit taken aback when DelBene kept insisting on "Microsoft's ability to compete and win in pure cloud deployments as well, with its Online Services and Office Web Applications."
Kind of funny, in this context, to set the Wayback Machine all the way to October 2008, and read in Business Week that Debra Chrapaty, Microsoft's corporate vice-president for Global Foundation Services, "wants to prove that her company is no less capable of running the sprawling data centers to offer software doled out via the Internet" than Google (News - Alert).
"The company is especially keen to handle the ubiquitous Microsoft software that consumers and corporations have been running for themselves for the past few decades," Business Week wrote, quoting Chrapaty as saying "Google has done a great job of hyping its prowess. But we're neck and neck with them."
DelBene told Henschen that "the hybrid world is a reality, but that's not our only point of differentiation. We'll have a bunch of customers who will go purely online, and we have the best offering there. Other customers will stay on premises. The real challenge will be addressing customers in the in-between states so we're giving them the flexibility to figure out which divisions they want to bring into the cloud and at what pace," he said.
Obviously, as Henschen said, in the on-premise realm "Microsoft has a lot riding on its planned May megarelease of the 2010 versions of venerable products like SharePoint, Office and Exchange." While the upgrades improve support for global organizations with extranet connectivity in SharePoint, Henschen sounded doubtful as to whether they're all that monumental.
On a more ambitious note, he reported that Microsoft is releasing Office Communications Server 2010, "advancing the company's ambition to break into voice-over-IP telephony by using the popularity of Office and SharePoint."
"Many companies now support separate presence products, instant messaging and chat products, real-time collaboration products and VoIP and digital voice products, yet the collaboration scenarios totally cross over," DelBene told Henschen, adding that "We've taken the view that you should be able to move from one modality of communicating to another and that the notion of presence is central to the collaboration experience."
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Kelly McGuire