As we wind down 2009, the battleground is heating up for control of the most important element of the Cloud…End Users! After all, he who controls the desktop and the applications that people use, controls the revenue stream for Cloud-o-mania. Make no mistake; the big players are entrenched in the war for who will win this ever important battle.

As I mentioned in my last BLOG, awareness is one battlefield in the war, but actually winning deals and with it the end user is another. Microsoft was recently bludgeoned by Google in a deal that cost them 30,000 seats with the City of Los Angeles. Microsoft fought back with a deal that covered 15,000 students and 70,000 Alumni at Seton Hall University after a dual with Google at that battle ground. 

So it’s on:  Business Online Productivity Standard Suite (BPOS) vs. Google Apps. In the next round, after watching the titans slug it out for the past several months, it looks as though the University of California at Davis has decided to go with Google apps (30,000 seats). Not to be out done, Microsoft claims they have now signed over 5,000 schools and universities under their Education program (Live@edu). And we have Google claiming it has over three million active education users in the U.S. alone. Still on the board, however, are huge universities and educational institutions around the globe. 

It’s important to note that as this battle rages on with different technology, there are two very specific areas of commonality.  First, the applications are all subscription based and are being serviced from the Cloud.  Second, there appears to be a focus on the Education market specifically.  The former is a natural extension of Cloud based services known as SaaS  (Software as a Service).  The latter needs a bit of explanation as the Education sectors are sometimes a world of their own.

Early in their existence, Apple learned if you can lead the proverbial student to the drinking well of Mac based applications, soon you will have an entire generation of business workers demanding OSX in their daily routines.  Therefore it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if Cloud Computing becomes a staple of the current student population, the future will belong to the titan who wins this audience today.

This is why so much emphasis is placed on today’s education market and why, in many cases, both Microsoft and Google are offering up their Cloud solutions for close to nothing in this space.  The battle is just beginning and we can expect it to get much hotter in 2010.  There is an entire generation of End Users out there to be won using Cloud Computing as the platform for launching the attack.

So look out for what your kids bring home next week or next month from their schools.  You might find them asking for a service you’re unfamiliar with… except for the brand…. Google or Microsoft.  And if you want to be a part of this money making machine, Citrix can help to enable your quest in the battle of the titans.

(Sources for this BLOG include The Wall Street Journal)