SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Todd Pierce recently put his job on the line. To meet the computing needs of 16,300 employees and contractors at Genentech Inc., Pierce took a chance and decided not to rely entirely on business software from Microsoft, IBM or another long-established supplier that would have let Genentech own the technology. Instead, Pierce decided to rent these indispensable products from Google Inc.
The Internet search and advertising leader will run Genentech’s e-mail, as well as some word processing, spreadsheet and calendar applications, and it will do it over an online connection — an unconventional approach called “cloud computing.”
The decision has turned Genentech, a biotechnology pioneer, into a lab rat for Google and other alternative software services trying to convince skeptical corporate decision makers that cloud computing is more than a pie-in-the-sky concept. In the process, Google Inc. hopes to bleed revenue from Microsoft Corp. and surpass its biggest rival in the race to control the gears of computing.