I just got back from Google Campfire One where they announced the Google Apps Marketplace, and we're very excited that Box is a featured service. Overall, the event was great - I got to see many of my press friends such as Anthony Ha, David Needle and Robert Scoble, as well as catch up with old Google friends like Dave Girouard and David Glazer.
The goal of the event was clearly to excite developers in hopes of generating more Marketplace Apps, which explains the program's heavy focus on the "how" of developing an App. And partner demonstrations - specifically those from Atlassian and Appirio - really underscored the benefit of using Google APIs to their fullest from a developer perspective.
I was struck, however, that by focusing on developers, Google missed a big opportunity to start a conversation about the future of Enterprise software. To me, the most exciting part of this Marketplace is not that companies like ours can get in front of Google Apps' 2 million businesses (although that's certainly welcome), but rather that it paves the way for broader Enterprise adoption of the Cloud. As individual companies offering silo-ed solutions, cloud vendors - including Google - have had trouble getting businesses to take them seriously. Perhaps one component of a particular business will be moved to the Cloud - like email - but it's not a full-scale adoption of cloud technology. When all of these Cloud applications are able to easily integrate with each other, it expands the functionality that every vendor can currently offer. For example, with its Google Apps integration, Box.net can now sell a full Microsoft stack replacement in a one-two punch to Microsoft: Google Apps replaces Microsoft Exchange and Box.net replaces Microsoft SharePoint.
Furthermore, by connecting clouds we allow for a steady, organic stream of adoption. One app being introduced inside an organization leads the way to the next, and so on. At Box.net, we often see our solution brought into a company by an individual, after which it spreads naturally from to department-wide usage to full company deployment. This same effect should benefit cloud vendors if we all invite integrations and keep our platforms open - like Box.net and Salesforce.com have done and Google has started to do. Working together, we can start an tornado of cloud adoption that literally changes the very nature of Enterprise software.
So after an enjoyable evening with S'more tarts, mini-burgers and a cute Campfire blanket I got to keep, I still want to get all of these cloud companies together - again - to start that conversation. Changing how enterprises use software is not a task that any one company can take on alone. The software giants - like Microsoft, IBM and Cisco - are, well, big and want to stay that way. But together, cloud companies have a huge opportunity to do something extraordinary and change the way people and business think and interact with technology.
Post By Jen Grant, VP of Marketing