Simple answers to concerns about Office for the Web

My former co-worker and friend, Dave, had some common concerns about moving to an Office on the Web. I thought I’d chime in with my thoughts:

> Maybe you don’t want your company/state secrets going across the internet and stored on someone else’s servers?

Some companies in this space are offering access to their applications over the secure https protocol as a premium service. For companies concerned about the security of document storage, the option to host the application behind your corporate firewall is available as well. We don’t offer either of these options yet, but they are certainly on our product roadmap.

> Maybe because hardcore data entry over a web application severely impacts productivity?

The promise of AJAX, OpenLaszlo, and associated technologies is that applications built with these tool will be comparable to their desktop counterparts. It will take a little time to get there, but in the mean time we’re betting we’ll be usable enough given the tremendous advantage web deployed applications offer.

> Maybe you dont’ want version changes of your tools happening on the vendor’s schedule, instead preferring to upgrade when YOU want to?

The advantage of web based applications is that you don’t have to upgrade, since the vendor will handle that for you. This is particularly advantageous for small companies that have limited or non existent IT staff. For large companies, it will reduce the complexity involved in rolling out upgrades to huge numbers of desktops. ( SocialText has some big name customers who get this) Customers who want more control will have the option to deploy the application server in their own environment, and make upgrades on a single server as they are ready.

> Maybe you want to be able to work when not connected to a network, or when network connectivity is unavailable?

The solution to this issue is an offline client. While a local install will be required to support an offline client, it is technically straight forward. But I have to say, with wireless hotspots just about everywhere, and wireless starting to be deployed on airlines, I think being offline will become less and less of an issue.

I think all of Dave’s comments are very valid, and it’s a good thing there are some excellent answers about his concerns. We think that our application will surprise folks when they see how similar it is to its desktop counterpart. And we’ll cost less money, offer superior collaboration, and be much easier to deploy.

People are talking about the trend….

I read two blog posts recently, both from VC’s, which show folks are starting to grok the reality that collaborative internet based applications will soon be the tools of choice, replacing traditional desktop applications.

Fred Wilson writes:

“…my experience and my bet is that wikis will take the enterprise by storm. Because they are simpler, easier, and better.”

Peter Rip predicts:

“The AJAX version of Office is coming. But the key isn’t AJAX. The key is the apps will naturally collaborate the way we have all learned to work – via the Web.”

“…I bet in five years more people use AJAX Office than Microsoft Office.”

We couldn’t agree more! And Gliffy fits right in there…