Google Sites vs. Sharepoint

[Continuing on with Part 3 in brief series on Google Sites, this post veers in a more technical direction.]

In the bevy of early articles that came out last week, a point that was made repeatedly is that Google Sites has similarities to Microsoft’s Sharepoint. As Michael Arrington noted in TechCruch, “Google’s Management Director of Enterprise Matthew Glotzbach called the combined products under Google Apps a ‘Microsoft Sharepoint killer.'”

I’m bothered by this language. It’s true that both are web tools for collaboration, and the Apps suite is more directly in MS’s path than Google usually is. However, having worked quite a bit with Sharepoint in the past, I have to say the two seem worlds apart to me. Sharepoint is based in the old model, where IT is the center of the digital information universe. Sites is based in the new model, where end users are the center of their own digital information universe. Sharepoint typically costs thousands of dollars to deploy. Sites is free. Sharepoint takes a lot to learn. Sites is a breeze. And so on.

So to me it feels not so much like a direct blow as an Aikido move, using the momentum of the opponent to one’s own advantage. Sharepoint can get up and lumber on in its own proprietary, IT-centric mode, while the smaller, more agile and crowd-pleasing Google Sites takes a bow.