Google for business

Google is focusing more and more on technology and infrastructure providers. At this year’s developer fair Google I/O, the spotlight was on services for companies.

We took a closer look at two topics for you.

Cloud platform

Google arrived late in this field of business and is in competition with service providers like Amazon.

The advantages of the cloud are easy to see: one has to set up one’s own IT infrastructure to deal with peaks in demand, which means having additional hardware available that is hardly used. It’s much cheaper to buy computing capacity on demand.

Its search engine and applications show that Google can run IT systems reliably. Google possesses huge processing centres located all over the world that are designed to be reliable, available, and efficient.

The App Engine broke the first ground

The App Engine is Google’s first hosting service. It is for running Java servlets and Python applications.

The programming is done on high-level APIs. There’s no need to deal with details like operating systems, applications servers, and databases. Since applications need to be adjusted to the App Engine’s APIs, the road to and from the App Engine is hard. However, Google makes it easy for developers to develop for the App Engine, and administrators can monitor applications via dashboards.

New services

Google is systematically extending its cloud service, and presented new services at I/O 2012. As well as cloud storage and the big query, Google is also offering popular scalable Linux instances with the compute engine.

Office as a service

Google Apps Tabellenkalkulation

Office applications are a huge market which is almost completely dominated by Microsoft. They are also the last bastion of pure desktop applications.

Whereas the cloud service differs from that of the competition only in the details, Google is taking a radically different approach with its Google Apps for Business:

  1. Technical: exclusively as web application
  2. Operation: exclusively on Google servers
  3. Business model: subscriptions for a few euros per user per month

For this you get: email, calendar, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, intranet, web presence, and storage space.

Simplification of the infrastructure

Google’s range of services is appealing for CIOs because it makes the IT infrastructure more manageable. Users only need a browser and an internet connection – no client installation, no software distribution, no mail server, no backup.

A new kind of collaboration

Joint work on documents is changing. There is only one instance of a document, and changes can be made by everyone who has writing permission. For example, you can discuss recent corrections on the phone, make alterations together, and everyone can see the changed document immediately whether on the desktop at the office or out and about on a tablet or smartphone!

Scripting for Javascript

Google Apps are office applications for the web. Consequently they can be programmed with the language for the web: Javascript. This ideal for web developers. Office programmers need to readjust.

The scripting possibilities are multi-faceted. It is possible extend Google Apps around macros or spreadsheet functions or depict workflows.

Impediments and limitations

The step to Google Apps is not easy.

The range of functions is stunning, but some functions and formats for word processing are missing. It is possible to convert office documents to Google Apps, but they are not true to the original. Macros need to be rewritten. The scripting environments are too different.

Google Apps are ideal for start-ups to quickly create a functioning working environment. This is because start-ups do not have any documents that need to be migrated and no macros that need to be converted.

Unclarified legal issues

Lots of companies are apprehensive about giving out their data to external companies. And even then, maybe not to Google. On the other hand, outsourcing strategies require a high level of trust in the service provider and transfer of business data to external companies. The deciding points therefore are: trust, data protection, and legal certainty.

Google has signed the Safe Harbour Agreement and has recently started offering contracts that are in accordance with EU data protection requirements. However, it is unclear whether the strict German data protection regulations will be complied with when it comes to personal data.

Conclusions

In the long-term, the entire IT infrastructure will be transferred to the cloud and office applications will disappear from the desktop and become browser applications. The range of functions is not yet sufficient for many use cases, but that will change.

Even today, Google Apps can already help provide information or create workflows with external partners. In projects that require intensive collaborate, Google Apps offer clear advantages.

Migration to Google Apps is a weak spot in connection with macros. Google will have to come up with something better in this respect if they want to convince major customers.

Even Microsoft has recognised that in the future office applications will have to be provided over the web, and will not surrender the market to Google without a fight. Compatibility is an important factor with which Microsoft can succeed in winning over customers for Office 365.

If we have sparked your interest in trying out Google Apps with a small project team, then simply get in touch, We’ll be happy to help!

Contact: Christian Vögtle; Turn on Javascript!