June 28, 2011, 9:20 AM — Everything's going to the cloud, but only the hopelessly naïve would believe it's a stairway to heaven. Given the current economic situation, there's lots of incentive to rent only what you need, rather than buy enough to handle the heaviest workload. There are also plenty of reasons to reduce the general level of expertise needed to keep your systems working. But it's by no means certain that the cloud can deliver in either department -- and perform in a secure, reliable way.
Can your company save money by paying Microsoft or Google to take on what you'd otherwise attempt in-house? What kinds of problems can you expect? What benefits? Will either of these solutions make sense for you, or is the grass always greener on the cloudy side?
[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman tested Office 365 on mobile devices, Macs, and Linux; see where it works. | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]
Clash of the cloudsBefore we attempt to answer those questions, one thing must be stated flatly: Office 365 and Google Apps are vastly different products. Office 365 is meant to be used with a locally installed version of Office (preferably Office 2010), whereas Google Apps lives 100 percent in the browser. To use a hackneyed metaphor, we're talking apples and oranges. With so many feature variables between the two products, blanket pronouncements don't make a lot of sense.