Newbie to Google, Scott Johnston, the former VP of Product Development at JotSpot (which Google bought), leaked that Google will be providing Sites capabilities as part of their Google Apps suite sometime in 2008.
The Sites capability will enable a company using the Google Apps product suite to create intranets, extranets and other types of sites (like project tracking) in a collaborative environment.
In case you don't consider yourself familiar with Google Apps, the suite currently includes:
* Google Talk
* Documents (word processing, presentations and spreadsheets)
* Start Page (customizable)
* Page Creator (create and publish web pages)
* ...and more, seemingly every month
Google Sites for Web CMS?
JotSpot was a startup that specialized in creating and sharing documents online. The Google Sites capabilities will be built on JotSpot's collaboration functionality. Hark back to note that JotSpot originally included calendaring, file cabinet, photo gallery, spreadsheets, a group directory, a bug tracker and a forum, among other bits and pieces.
The new Sites functionality will expand on the existing Page Creator tool in Google Apps -- thus replacing Google Page Creator according to Google's own blog.
Users will have the ability to upload and store any document type. Although it wasn't clearly mentioned, one just must also assume that some form of JotSpot's wiki functionality will be part of the Sites capabilities. JotSpot Wiki Functionality
In addition to the above web-based fun, users will be able to download and work on their documents offline. This will be made possible by Google Gears -- if you use Google Reader, you already know about Google Gears, which lets you download your feeds and review them off-line. It was also indicated that Google Gears will be integrated in the Calendar and GMail applications.
Other Potential Enhancements
Other enhancements in the works (potentially) include:
* integration of GrandCentral * OCR capabilities for importing PDFs or other graphical files into Google Docs
* video conferencing in addition to Talk and Chat
Move Over SharePoint? Move Over Alfresco?
This news, although not official, is very interesting. Google Apps is already in the MS Office space, offering an on-demand solution that is free (or next to free). Now it appears they are advancing into the tipsy-turvy world where document collaboration, social media and web content management and being mixed, matched and paired in all manner of ways.
This is the domain in which our dear SharePoint and Alfresco are presently conducting some semi-civilized pit fighting. It won't be long now before all three gorillas are making mirror image claims of convenience and features. And hey, we don't even have gDrive in the picture yet.
Yes, it will be interesting to see how 2008 unfolds. Two things are certain -- the competition is intensifying and Google will play an increasing role in managing the world's content.