Google Apps, Google+ Integration Has Social Businesses In Sight


Google+, Google's attempt to unseat Facebook as king of the social network mountain, is now open to users of the Google Apps cloud computing suite, the search giant revealed Thursday.

The integration of Google+ and Google Apps comes as marquee cloud vendors push more businesses to add social capabilities through business-focused social networks and collaborative applications.

Google+ launched in July as an invite-only social network for Google users and was recently made generally available. But until today, Google Apps account holders have been unable to use Google+. Google Apps users can now leverage the social platform, which lets users put friends, colleagues and other acquaintances into groups called "circles" based on relationship or other factors.

Google said that it took more technical work than expected to bring Google+ to Google Apps.

"Google Apps fans, today we're ready to add you to our circles. Google+ makes sharing on the web more like sharing in the real world, and now Google+ is available to people who use Google Apps at college, at work or at home," Google Product Manager Ronald Ho wrote in a post on Google's enterprise blog.

Google Apps administrators can manually turn on Google+ within their organization and farm it out to specific users, groups or the entire company. Once it is turned on, users must sign up. For Google Apps for Business users, users of the free version of Google Apps or users who have chosen to have new services automatically enabled, Google+ will automatically become available to all users within the next several days, Ho wrote.

According to Google, Google Apps users will have access to the same features as other Google+ users with some additional capabilities. Along with sharing publicly or with specific circles, Google Apps users that add Google+ can also opt to share with everyone within their organization, even if those people aren't added to a circle.

Along with circle-based sharing in Google+, which Google said ensures that users share relevant content only with the right groups of people. So far, Google said 40 million people already use Google+.

"Circles is a great way to share relevant content with the right people," Ho said. "With Circles, your photography crew doesn’t have to get an update about your morning workout, your triathlon team doesn't have to see all your thoughts on the latest camera gear, and your project teams can be kept separate from all of this."

Google Apps users with Google+ also have access to Hangouts with Extras, a service that combines multi-person video chat, screen sharing and collaboration in Google Docs ot let users work together on projects with a distributed groups.

Google said more Google Apps and Google+ capabilities are on the way and Google is building a migration tool to help users who already have Google+ through a personal Google Account to switch it over to their Google Apps account.

"With this tool, you won’t have to rebuild your circles, and people who've already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile," Ho wrote. "We expect this migration option to be ready in a few weeks, so if you'd like, you can go ahead and get started with your Apps account today and merge your connections once the tool is available."