In preparation for the Crunchies this Friday, January 9, I’ve been asked to write 5 short summaries to cover the nominees for Best Enterprise. There are 3 cloud computing entrants – Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine, and Force.com – and 2 from the worlds of Twitter clone (Yammer) and Office is Dead (Zoho.) My personal cloud favorite, Live Mesh, did not make the cut, but it’s a finalist in the Best Technology Innovation/Achievement category.
Yammer, a spin off of a startup called Geni, is a newcomer this year. They launched at TechCrunch50 in the Fall and took the top prize. The service acts as a Twitter for businesses, letting employees send messages back and forth to subscribers. It’s way more effective than email at group communications, and we absolutely rely on it here at TechCrunch.
Zoho, as well as its competitor Google Docs, continues to replace Microsoft Office for most of my word processing and spreadsheet needs. The feature list is still light compared to the heavy, expensive Microsoft version, but it’s free and I can collaborate with others on documents. This is the future of office productivity.
In the cloud department, Amazon Web Services has finally drawn Windows Azure into the game, with Google App Engine the sandbox for what I consider to be the heart of Google’s cloud strategy: Gmail Labs. AWS and its secret weapon the Kindle represent the major competitor to Apple’s iPhone/MacBook Air/Time Machine trifecta, and we’ll soon see the two microsystems lap the field as media and micromessaging merge.
Gmail Labs will expand and merge into Chrome as the browser goes cross platform, adding rich media video and realtime features as Gears modules, and in the process set up a showdown with Azure/Mesh and Silverlight Office. Meanwhile, Force.com will continue to partner with Google while using Adobe Flash as a hedge against Silverlight. Salesforce will in effect become the FriendFeed of the Enterprise, aggregating social media services through a steady rollout of API connectors.
And the winner is….