Google Apps Gain Some Enterprise Cred

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft and Google are escalating their battle to win hearts and minds of enterprise users in the cloud.

Just days after Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced its delivery of lightweight versions of its Office applications for the Web, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) came out with one of its own news about Google Apps. The online productivity tools are certified as enterprise-ready.

“We’re announcing today SAS 70 Type II certification for all Google Apps, which means third party auditors have come in and validated how we protect your data,” David Girouard, president of Google Enterprise, told attendees at Dreamforce 2008.

SAS 70, the Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70, defines the standards an auditor must use to assess the contracted internal controls of a service organization such as a hosted data center. It was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

A Type II certification requires auditors to evaluate what the organization being audited is doing to prevent accounting inconsistencies, errors and misrepresentation as well as the extent to which agreed upon controls have been operating effectively since they were implemented.

Google’s announcement at the annual (NYSE: CRM) user conference yesterday builds on its news last week that it is offering 99.9 percent service level agreements (SLAs). This level of assurance means the SLAs are enterprise-level, Google’s Girouard said.

Google’s Girouard also announced that the company has enhanced its Google Visualization API (application programming interface) to let developers display data from any data source connected to the Web. “A spreadsheet “is not a spreadsheet in the cloud; it’s something different,” he said.

He sniped at Microsoft while citing statistics about Google Apps’ success. “Our good friends at Redmond like to dismiss the effect Google Apps is having,” Girouard said. “Since we launched Google Apps one and a half years ago, we’ve got more than 10 million Google Apps business users and we’re adding more than 3,000 new customers a day,” he added.

Microsoft is throwing more weight into its cloud computing strategy, which increasingly pits it against Google with some applications. Increasingly, enterprises see the cloud as the future of computing, given the promise of lowered costs with hosted applications rather than traditional client-based computing.

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