Google: Cloud, Mobile, Social Will Define 2012

In a sort of "state of Google" update to close out the year, Google Enterprise Vice President Amit Singh said cloud, mobile and social will be main drivers for Google next year.

According to Singh, cloud adoption will accelerate in 2012, especially in small businesses, among which only 10 percent or so have deployed cloud technologies, according to a report for Zoomerang. In 2011, Singh said, Google capitalized on the cloud by adding more than 175 new features to Google Apps and offering an SLA of 99.99 percent for Gmail. And in 2012, Google's cloud strategy will evolve as more products and integrations hit the market.

Going forward, we'll further integrate the products in the Apps suite to make the experience more seamless, and we'll accelerate our efforts to make them even faster and more responsive," Singh wrote.

Singh noted that Google App Engine, the search giant's cloud development platform, also gained traction in 2011, momentum it will carry into next year. So far, Google said, more than 400,000 active applications run on App Engine, which is a jump of 70 percent in the last year.

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"Our cloud services are another important area of investment, and they will make it easier for you to build scalable web apps and draw trends from huge amounts of data to make better informed decisions," Singh said.

Google will also continue to sharpen its mobile offerings. Citing Forrester Research data that predicts more than 77 percent of organizations will support Google Android and iOS devices next year, Singh said Android penetration will grow in the new year. According to Singh, more than 90 percent of Google Apps for Business users have already deployed or are interested in deploying Android devices and Android advancements, such as on-device encryption, VPN and Global Address List (GAL) support in the Android version 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, will foster more enterprise use.

To capitalize on the consumerization of IT and users bringing their own personal devices into the workplace, Singh said Google has integrated web-based mobile device management into Google Apps and will embark on what it calls a "mobile-first" strategy where mobility takes center stage.

"The best thing about mobile devices is fast and intuitive applications," Singh wrote. "Our mobile-first strategy means our apps will work first and best across different mobile platforms and allow you to be productive from anywhere. Last year we improved our Gmail mobile web app, brought a Gmail app to iOS, introduced a Docs app for Android phones and tablets, and there's more to come. We'll continue to invest heavily in mobile and soon you'll see the products you love work even better on your smartphones and tablets. Beyond our own apps, we foresee many developers increasing their focus on building mobile apps for businesses."

And, lastly, as social media and networks have further infiltrated the business landscape in 2011, Google said it has made some progress on the social front, but there is still a ways to go. Singh noted that 2011 saw the launch of Google+ and Google+ becoming available to Google Apps users. Come 2012, Google+ will get the royal treatment and be gussied up for deeper business use.

"Our efforts will focus on two areas in the year ahead. First, on continuing the blistering pace of innovation that is bringing multiple improvements to Google+ every week, while also wrapping Google+ with the controls needed for broader use in large enterprises…," Singh wrote. "Second, on bringing Google+ to the rest of our products: incorporating features that make it easier to connect, share, and integrate with the wider world. The Google+ integrations with Gmail and contacts are one small example of our work to create a seamless and intuitive experience across Google."