It’s Google vs. Microsoft all over again – (nothing new, and nothing that will go away any time soon), but now it’s not about search or anything else – it’s about web-based business-centric applications designed to make it very easy for very small businesses (say, those with 1-10 employees) to get online, develop an online presence, and get business-class tools, like email, project management, collaboration, etc… without having to know anything about IT and infrastructure. They basically want to host your ENTIRE business online. Why are they so after the smallest businesses in the world? Well, that’s because there are so many of them – about 28 million of them, and none of them have the thousands of up-front dollars or the know-how usually required set-up this type of ‘advanced’ functionality on their own. Now, they can get it for a reasonable monthly fee (or in some cases, for Free).Read more about the press release here: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/nov05/11-01PreviewSoftwareBasedPR.mspxGoogle calls their initiative “Google Apps for Your Domain”, and Microsoft calls their “Office Live”. At the very least, MS has the better name.Here are some other key differences and related information: ===GoogleMicrosoftURL https://www.google.com/a/ http://officelive.microsoft.com/Price during Beta Free FreePrice after Beta Free (if you’re chosen as a company Google wants to provide this for)Free for very basic services, about $30/month and up depending on what services you want, and how much web storage you need, how many employees you have, etc…Looks like… GoogleA lot like Microsoft Office, SharePoint, etc… (the 2007 suite more than the 2003 suite)What they say: Now you can offer private-labeled email, IM and calendar tools to all of your users for free*, so they can share ideas and get things done more effectively. You can design and publish your organization’s website, too. It’s all hosted by Google, so there’s no hardware or software for you to install or maintain.Communicate. Collaborate. Automate. Establish, manage, and grow your business online. Microsoft Office Live provides a powerful set of Web-based services to help you manage your valuable information and resources. Let Office Live boost your company’s visibility and put the Web to work for you.Price after Beta Free (if you’re chosen as a company Google wants to provide this for)Free for very basic services, about $30/month and up depending on what services you want, and how much web storage you need, how many employees you have, etc…In a lot of ways it’s “the dream” for small businesses. We certainly are huge advocates of this idea – the ‘host everything, don’t worry or think about IT, just run your business’. In terms of how the market will take it? I think the jury’s still out. Only time will tell. This certainly raises some questions for Microsoft:• Will “Live” cannibalize its server and desktop application sales?And what about IT Solutions providers like SADA Systems, Inc.? How does this effect us? Will our clients need us after Live takes off? It’s a valid question.Well – there is a trend in Information Technology in that the ‘easy’ stuff will always be commoditized, and eventually be provided by only a few companies. The truth is, SADA and other IT solutions companies, if they are doing the right things, and continuously providing more and more sophisticated solutions, will never be displaced by such services. Similarly to the explosion of the likes of Geek Squad and Dell Services – who also target very much the same market as Office Live and the Google tools do (though Google has hosted email and other applications for very large Universities, etc… and continues to do so). We applaud any advancement that makes Information Technology tools accessible to those companies and organizations who would otherwise be shut out.Furthermore, we must remember that all of these tools and products – hosted or otherwise – are just that. Often the REAL value of an IT Services company is not providing the tool or product itself – it’s really providing the services that will enable companies to make effective use of those tools, no matter who makes them, in a way that provides business value to that organization. This is a much higher level of partnership than the traditional definition of an “IT Value Added Reseller” – today and in the future, companies like SADA will be looked upon more for their IT leadership, business acumen, and consulting than anything else.