Google may make most of its revenue from online advertising, but it is committed to serving IT and business managers and CIOs, through its enterprise unit.

That's the pledge from Matthew Glotzbach, product management director of the Google Enterprise team, who talked to the IDG News Service about why Google has decided to slug it out in the enterprise software market with heavy hitters such as Microsoft and IBM.

He also outlined Google's expectations for products such as its Apps Premier hosted collaboration and communication suite and its Search Appliance enterprise search device.

Why does Google, want to get into the difficult market of providing collaboration and communication software for workplace use with its Apps Premier hosted application suite?

Glotzbach: At the heart of all aspects of Google is the user. As we continue to evolve from starting in search and expanding into online applications of all different sorts, it's still really been around this principle of how to provide a great user experience.

What we realise is that the user has all the same technology challenges, and needs a lot of the same tools, both in their consumer life and also their work life. We set out to bring that great experience we provide to consumers over to the enterprise. That's also helped along by this overarching trend in technology of bringing the consumer and work life together as they blur more.

As more consumer technologies take hold in the enterprise, we see a lot of opportunity to further that trend and bring some of the great user capabilities and technology into the business environment.

How big do you estimate is the revenue opportunity in the markets in which your enterprise products play, like Apps Premier in collaboration and communication software and the Search Appliance in enterprise search?

Glotzbach: It's obviously a very big market. When you look at the global IT spend at the highest level, it's I think in the range of US$1.5 trillion.

I give the advertising team a hard time and tell them that if we go by those numbers, my market is about twice the size as theirs. IT in the business environment is a very big market, and if you then bring it down to the specific spaces we're in, especially around communication, collaboration and search, in and of themselves, those are multibillion-dollar markets, and I think we're the leader in the next generation of technology to serve those markets.

Our approach in the cloud computing model is the next big revolution in the way computing is done, and we have a very big opportunity there to capitalise and build Google's second-largest business.

How committed is Google to this enterprise unit? You are going up against competitors like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Salesforce.com, that are seasoned veterans in the enterprise IT market, as well as many smaller but strong players like Yahoo's Zimbra and Zoho.

Glotzbach: The company is, from the top levels, in conversations with Larry, Sergey and Eric, they're absolutely committed to this space. Probably the best example was when Google's third-largest acquisition to date was Postini for $625 million.

That's a very tangible proof of commitment. It's putting our money where our mouth is. It's obviously an enterprise play exclusively. We're very much in this business for real, we're highly committed to it and we're in it to have an impact on the business computing environment.

Yes, we are the new guy to some extent in these markets, but we're building off of an amazing foundation and base leveraging the Google infrastructure that's tested and entering into its 10th year in terms of being a leader in cloud computing. Also, a lot of the names you mentioned were the new guys not that many years ago, even the likes of Microsoft.

You were able to get the attention quickly of small and mid-size businesses with the Google Mini and Search Appliance in enterprise search and with the Standard Edition of Apps, which is free. But winning clients among large companies is more difficult. CIOs have many requirements that SMBs may not have. Why are you so interested in providing software to Fortune 1000-type companies?

Glotzbach: One thing we've done as we've built the Enterprise team over the last five or so years, is that we've tried to marry the understanding and know-how of the enterprise space with the DNA of the Google culture and how we attack these types of problems. As a result, from a team standpoint, we're very excited in changing how enterprise technology works. With the Search Appliance first, and now with the cloud computing model, we're helping the enterprise rethink how they've done IT for the last few decades, by, for example, bringing the consumer best practices from a software standpoint and delivering them to the end-user.

All too often in the world of enterprise IT, we've gotten too caught up in IT for IT's sake. It's not to suggest that reliability and support aren't important. They're extremely important. But we tend to lose sight of what the end-user is trying to accomplish, what business goal we are trying to accomplish, and how can we apply technology to help the user quickly and efficiently accomplish that task.

For example, the collaboration capabilities that the Apps software and the cloud computing model enable really change the way people do business. It allows users to interact with information and each other in a whole new way, and the impact that can have on the pace of business and the effectiveness of communication and collaboration is monumental.

Rethinking how corporate IT is done and providing a path forward that delivers on the end-users' needs in a more cost-effective, less burdensome manner from the IT perspective is a big task and good goal.

We will absolutely continue to enhance our products to meet the needs of the most demanding organisations, including enhancing and extending our service level agreement to cover more applications in the suite, enhancing the capabilities of the applications to meet the IT department and the CIOs' needs.

In the short time that Google Apps has been around, for less than two years, you've seen a tremendous amount of advancement in the product.