Google Enterprise Apps

Today I attended a morning seminar on Google Enterprise Applications at the Westin in Buckhead. This is the first time I’ve seen a roadshow event from Google which was interesting in itself. Google’s purpose is to introduce the rollout this Winter of the new Enterprise Applications, a suite of product solutions aimed at Corporate and Government enterprises.

The suite is divided into three categories; Search, Share, and Visualize.

Search contains a choice between three search solutions; Search Appliance, Google Mini, and Google Desktop. Both Appliance and Mini are physical devices…self contained appliances that are plugged into a network and configured to crawl/index content sources throughout the network using the same technology as Google’s main search engine. Desktop is installed onto individual desktops to search that individual desktop.

Share also contains three product solutions; Gmail, Calendar, and Docs & Spreadsheets. Gmail is Google’s free email service which I have been using for some time now. Calendar provides a shared calendar service you can use to view the calendar(s) of your “friends,” combine calendars, and many additional features. Docs & Spreadsheets represents Googles entry into the word processing and spreadsheet space. I haven’t used these products yet and so can’t compare to MS Word & Excel.

Three product solutions of the Visualize group are Google Earth, Google Maps, and Sketchup Pro.

My main take away from the seminar is learning how Google Enterprise Apps differs from simply using these tools individually from Google free of charge.

For $50 per person per year, Google Enterprise Apps provides an enterprise with the ability to customize these apps with domain name and branding. Google guarantees 99.9% uptime and provides unlimited support. Storage limit is increased from 5 gig per person up to 10 gig per person. Last but not least you can hook up Google apps to your own internal Microsoft Active Directory or LDAP directory service to manage authentication and control access.

For those who prefer MS Outlook, gmail works just fine with an Outlook client. Although the browser interface for gmail is very good and personally I prefer it over Outlook…but that’s just MHO.

I’m glad I took the time to attend the seminar. It was an “eye opener” for me and will factor into any future IT strategy discussion in which I am involved.

Microsoft CRM 3.0 Customization Class

This technology training didn’t occur in Georgia but I have to mention anyway as it was a great experience. At work I am in process of upgrading our old MS CRM version 1.2 to the latest version 3.0 and was given the chance to attend Microsoft’s 3-day instructor led Customization class. Due to scheduling I needed to attend during the first week in February and I have to say it was very difficult finding a Microsoft partner actually holding the class during that (or any other) week in February. Apparently most of these classes even though scheduled routinely at partner locations don’t actually “make” due to zero or low attendee signups. The one class I found that actually “made” was at a Microsoft partner, Vortex Data Systems, located in San Diego.

I have attended countless technology training classes during my career, but I must say Vortex is the coolest and best run training facility I have experienced. Highlights include the Internet Cafe, a really cool room with free fountain drinks, coffee (of course), snacks, computers, and wifi available for student breaks. Wifi was available throughout the facility even though not necessary since each student computer was Internet connected. Thursday afternoon they feature free ice cream sundaes for all students. Student computers were top notch as was all of the equipment. Registration was well organized and they cut us a good price for the class. I really can’t say enough about the great job Vortex did and how much I enjoyed taking a class there. If I ever get another chance to attend a Microsoft CRM class I will definitely choose Vortex in San Diego if at all possible.

While the vast majority of the hours spent in San Diego were dedicated to class, we did manage to view a couple of incredible West coast sunsets, something we rarely see in Atlanta.