I just read about a startup company made-up of former Emory students called Cloud Sherpas. Their business is to assist companies in migrating to and maintaining Google Enterprise Apps. They also do Google App Engine development. This is a great service (and a great name) since most small companies don’t realize the value and reduced cost they could achieve by adopting Google Enterprise Applications for email, shared documents, collaboration websites (for employees, customers, and partners), groups, and chat (voice and text) just to name a few of the services available from Google at little or no cost to the business. I’m not sure why a small to mid-size business today would want to do anything else especially given the tight economic times we are in now. And I have to add that whoever thought up the name Cloud Sherpas is a genius.
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.