Google App Engine vs. Microsoft Cloud: Debate at OSCON
When the Open Source Convention (OSCON 2010) starts July 19 in Portland, Ore., the conference will provide a stage for Microsoft and Google to continue their cloud computing debate. What cloud messages should you expect from the two IT giants? And what are the implications for VARs that are polishing their SaaS and cloud computing strategies? Here are some early clues from The VAR Guy.
First, a little background. OSCON ranks among the best known open source conferences in the world. Microsoft and Google both are listed among the conference’s top sponsors. It’s no secret that Google Apps runs on a Linux foundation. And Microsoft has certainly promoted its cloud platform, Windows Azure, to open source partners like SugarCRM.
But OSCON takes the Google vs. Microsoft debate to a whole new level. Specifically:
- Jean Paoli, general manager of Microsoft’s interoperability strategy, will describe how Microsoft will make it “easy to move data in and out of the cloud” by ensuring developers can choose from a range of programming languages. Skeptical? Paoli was a co-creator of the XML 1.0 standard with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It’s safe to expect Paoli to reinforce SaaS and cloud messages heard at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC10), held July 11-15 in Washington, D.C.
- Ikai Lan, a software engineer working for the Developer Programs groups at Google, Inc., will introduce OSCON attendees to the Google App Engine, an application development and hosting platform in the cloud. In it, Lan says, “you can build & deploy web applications on Google’s scalable high-traffic infrastructure,” according to Lan’s session description. App Engine supports apps written in Python or Java. There is no “lock-in” because you still own your code, and can port it to a standard LAMP stack if necessary using existing web technologies like Django and Groovy, Google claims.
So, who’s got the stronger cloud story? Either way, VARs are nervous. Most solutions providers worry about l0wball Google Apps pricing, which generates only $10 per user per year for the typical VAR. And prices for Microsoft’s own BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) have been plummeting as some partners worry about commodity Exchange Online and SharePoint Online pricing.
But therein resides the challenge: Most VARs are trying to figure out how to “resell” SaaS applications built by somebody else. In stark contrast, Microsoft’s Paoli and Google’s Lan are striving to educate customers and partners — helping them to potentially build cloud applications on their own.
The VAR Guy’s bottom line: Build a SaaS application and your company has an asset that can potentially generate recurring revenue until the end of time. Resell a SaaS application and you’re eventually at the mercy of commodity markets.