Increasingly a force to be reckoned with in the applications space, Google has finally re-launched JotSpot -- it's answer to the SharePoint (MOSS) way of enterprise collaboration -- to be forever called Google Sites. Aside from the fact that they lack imagination when naming their services (I think the most creative was 'gmail'), what's all the hoopla about Google Sites and why do so many think it's the beginning of the end for SharePoint?Google picked up JotSpot in October 2006. It continued to operate, but didn't accept new registration and stopped putting out enhancements. The rumors of it's impeding re-release started in September 2007 -- that's a long time to wait to put out a new product/service in the web world. Google Sites is available as part of Google Apps. You just need to sign up with a business or school email address (Google needs a valid domain name). It provides the ability to create a website, intranet or virtual classroom. You can include content such as YouTube videos, Google Calendar, Google Docs, presentations and attachments. Google even integrated it's search capabilities into the service. What it doesn't have right now is social-networking capabilities. They are coming though, to be "baked in" using the OpenSocial APIs and the Social Graph API. In addition, capabilities for sharing video and the use of iGoogle gadgets and APIs to embed objects within a site will be provided somewhere down the road. In a recent interview Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise called it "the nucleus for other pieces to fit into for online collaboration". Call it what you will, but what you won't hear Google call it is a wiki -- even though that's what JotSpot was best known as.

SharePoint's Biggest Rival

Although both camps deny they even look at what their competitors are doing, the reality is that Business 101 is all about "know thy competition". It's pretty obvious Google is going after Microsoft's small business market to start offering services like gmail, Google Docs and Google Sites. They are just doing it in a different way. Where Microsoft owns the desktop and associated desktop apps like Microsoft Office, Google is trying to own the cloud - providing similar services across the Internet. So how does SharePoint fare against Google Sites? At this point, they aren't exactly playing in the same ballgame. SharePoint does offer much more capability. But they are playing in the same tournament and it's only a matter time before the two come truly head to head. Where you may see early signs of the battle could be between Google Sites and Offices Live Workspaces. Office Live Workspaces is Microsoft's less than stellar response to support the small to mid-size market for SharePoint. Perhaps Google is betting on the lightweight cloud computing to win over the hearts and minds of frustrated SharePoint owners who get unexpectedly mired down in the complexity of a really good SharePoint implementation. It doesn't help that Google Sites is free -- with the exception of the Premier edition. Feel free to take a gander at Google Sites, try it out and tell us if you think it really does rival the likes of SharePoint.