CTO Breakfast Report for October

I posted a piece on why mobile data centers matter at Between the Lines. My thoughts were in response to the most recent Gillmor Gang where Sun's new mobile data centers were discussed.

Another interesting tidbit from that show was a discussion of Google Office. The consensus of the gang was that Google Office was a winner because of its collaboration features. Calacanis mentioned that he likes to have group editing sessions with people with everyone on a phone conference, getting a document ready.

I asked the group at my CTO Breakfast about Google Office this morning. Several had used it in exactly this way and reported that it's a great way to collaboratively edit documents.

One person reported that he tried to get a sales guy at his company to use a shared spreadsheet with him and the guy balked "because he already had a Hotmail account and didn't want a Google account." This is just one data point, but I think it's indicative of the resistance that online services will face. You can't share an MS Live spreadsheet to a Google user and visa versa. There's a whole new round of incompatibility coming.

Someone asked if I knew if students were using Google Office and similar tools much. I don't, but imagine that they're a great audience for this kind of thing. And once you get them using it in school, they'll take it to the business world.

I wrote about Oliver Rist's experiment with online office suites a few weeks ago. He concluded they weren't quite ready for prime time, but he's got fairly sophisticated needs as a journalist with established habits. I don't see these tools replacing Word and Excel anytime soon, but they're a great augmentation for collaboration.

We had some other great discussions about programming languages, VoIP, and Web development frameworks. Someone made the comment that PHP programmers are better if they've known another language first. PHP doesn't do much to support good programming habits, so it's a big win if developers come to the party with those habits already firmly ingrained from another project.