Google on Thursday multiplied the number of cloud computing applications available under the Google Apps umbrella by 10, opening the cloud floodgates for Google Apps business customers and its 2,000-plus Apps resellers.
According to Google, the deluge of new applications and capabilities swells Google Apps to more than 60 applications that can be leveraged by businesses. Google Apps is Google's cloud-based communications and collaboration software suite.
Traditionally, Google Apps offered Gmail, Google Docs and other capabilities. Now, Google has opened up access to applications like Google Voice, Reader, Blogger, Maps, Picasa, YouTube and a host of other Google applications to Google Apps customers. Most of those applications required a personal Google account, but are now accessible via a Google Apps login, meaning users can access them via their business Google accounts.
Google also added the ability for IT administrators to offer different sets of applications to different user groups. "For example, you could equip your marketing team with Picasa Web Albums so they can collect and share photos from customer appreciation events, and let that team publish your company's blog with Blogger," wrote Derek Parham, Google Apps lead software engineer, in a Google blog post. "Services like iGoogle and Alerts, on the other hand, may be broadly useful, and could be enabled for your whole organization."
Existing Apps customers can move to the new infrastructure that supports the new lineup of applications from the administrative control panel and new customers will start with the infrastructure when they begin using Google Apps. Google cautioned, however, that the additional services are not covered by Google Apps SLA or telephone support.
Allen Falcon, CEO of Google reseller Horizon Info Services, Westborough, Mass., said the addition of new services and applications into Google Apps boosts the value proposition for Google Apps, which will in-turn help sales and marketing efforts.
Additionally, he said, as many users have created free Google accounts while using their business Gmail address as the login, the integration and consolidation of new applications directly into Apps will help avoid confusion about which account is logged into which services.
"This will lower support demand for resellers with customers in this situation," Falcon said. Falcon also noted that the integration of other services will bring new features and capabilities into Google Apps, which will be a win for the channel.
"With Google Voice integration, for example, we expect to see expanded communication capabilities in Google Talk, such as the ability to dial out," he said. "Again, a richer feature set with more means to offer unified communications will help channel partners sell and add value-add services."
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