Posts tagged "google apps"

Enterprise 2.0 Roll-up: The Great Google vs. Microsoft Debate

This week we saw Google move from taking a bite out of Microsoft’s pie to their first all-out attempt at devouring it whole. What we’re talking about, of course, is the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange tool.

If this is how we’re fighting now, then, well: Things just. Got. Interesting.

You Say You Want a Revolution…

We’re not gonna lie, folks. The battle field is ugly. Many of those in favor of Google are keen on proclaiming their love for the openness of the cloud, and shutting down anything that doesn’t follow that strategy.

For example, earlier this month Zoho’s CEO Sridhar Vembu spoke to his decision to stick his company’s CRM system in the Google Marketplace. In the manifesto his belief in the future of e-mail and contextual integration within the enterprise—and Google’s way of handling both—was borderline devout. Meanwhile, his opinion of Salesforce.com’s technique was, well, not:

“…to be a real platform, you have to have a degree of openness, and our experience with Salesforce demonstrates the opposite, and sets up a direct contrast to Google's platform approach.”

Meanwhile, some of Microsoft’s fankids argue that Google Apps is like child’s play when it comes to business productivity. After all, Microsoft offers different solutions for different needs (MOSS, WSS, SharePoint) while Google houses everything together.

E-Tantrums and pixelated tears have been especially prevalent at the mention of Google’s pricing structure, which requires individuals to purchase additional space once they exceed the single freebie gigabyte that Google provides. In contrast, Microsoft offers 25GB for free that integrates with their Online Office.

We All Want to Change the World

This debate is nothing new, of course. These two giants have gone head to head in battle over several areas of tech, including internet search, operating systems, enterprise applications and browsers.

"Both [companies] are looking for dominant positions in the Internet,” said In-Stat analyst Jim McGregor late last year. “For Google to increase its business, it needs to move into other territory. For Microsoft to have significant growth opportunities, it needs to become an Internet powerhouse, and they know it. This is not a war that is going to be won by one or two battles. This is going to be a prolonged activity."

Google’s certainly expanding into other territories with the new marketplace. Is Microsoft meeting the needs of its users as well?

Don’t You Know It’s Gonna Be All Right

However this battle goes down, we know one thing for certain: It sure is gonna be fun to watch. And, all things considered—even the migration tool—it's obviously far from over. Stick with us as the headlines change; nothing in the enterprise is ever boring these days: 

Microsoft Unveils a User Experience Kit

At this year's SXSW conference, Microsoft unveiled a User Experience kit. The kit helps both technical and creative leads make sense of the Microsoft technology stack by providing videos, reference implementations, sample code, live demos, installable tools, whitepapers, pattern libraries, etc. 

Enterprise Software: To Be or Not To Be Like Facebook

Yet another heated battle. On one side of the field we have Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. His argument is that enterprise software should be more like Facebook. On the other side, a crowd of naysayers who don’t like the idea of mixing business with pleasure.

Play Time

Come get your hands dirty by taking part in some events:

International Intranet Day

"Join the full-day seminar on March 24 in Copenhagen to learn from the best while exploring intranet trends and experiences from intranet professionals all over Europe. Case studies include: Arla Foods, COWI, Danske Bank, De Lage Landen International, EDF Energy, Erste Bank, Novozymes, Sauer-Danfoss and Simcorp." 

Information Architecture Summit

"As busy practitioners, we rarely have the chance to step back and think about the future of our field—we’re too busy resolving day-to-day issues.This is an opportunity to help each other become more efficient. By gathering and sharing practical solutions for everyday challenges, we can create more breathing room to plan for what’s to come."

The Internet Show

"The Internet Show is a series of seminars and a showcase. It is the only event that brings together big, medium and small businesses eager to find new ways of doing internet business. It is a business—not technology—show."

CA Buys Nimsoft for US $350 Million, Sets Sights on Cloud Midmarket

T management software company CA (site)  has announced that it has just closed a cash deal worth US$ 350 million to buy monitoring solutions provider Nimsoft.

The Islandia, NY-based giant says this acquisition will open up a whole new customer base of midmarket/emerging enterprises and management service providers (MSPs).

The all-in-cash transaction will give it a stronger foothold with organizations with annual turnovers of between US $300 million and US $2 billion and which operate principally in the cloud computing market place. CA estimates that by 2013 these companies will account for up to 25% of spending in CA’s space.

In a statement issued at the time the deal was announced, Chris O’Malley, CA’s VP for cloud products and solutions, said the deal would also target not just enterprises, but whole national economies:

…CA will be equipped to capture several important growth market segments — including emerging enterprises, emerging national economies and the MSPs who are providing these customers with IT management services via the cloud … and complement our existing strength with large enterprise customers.

Nimsoft's Spot in CA's Recent Acquisitions

CA has been splurging a bit recently with two other acquisitions already this year — 3tera and Oblicore. Last year,  they bought NetQoS and Cassatt — all aimed at extending its cloud management services.

According to technology consultancy 451 group, this acquisition will have the most impact as it gives CA access to the Nimsoft marketplace, which consists of developers and vendors of network, service level, application and cloud management software products.

While Nimsoft’s operations will report under CA’s cloud products and solutions business line, CA intends to keep Nimsoft intact and independently run in the midmarket/emerging enterprise space and MSP segment, giving CA presence in that sector for the first time.

Nimsoft Unified Monitoring Solution

So what is CA getting? Released in October 2009, Nimsoft’s Unified Monitoring (UM) aims to give MSPs complete visibility of application performance and availability in both internal and external IT infrastructures.

While this is not unique, UM is easy to deploy, has little need for maintenance and streamlines the monitoring of business applications for multiple users. The result is a solution that will optimize the performance of applications by improving services and identifying gaps.

And it appears to be doing this quite successfully. In recent years, it has developed solutions for public and private clouds including Google Apps, the Rackspace Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.com.

Currently, CA is competing with IBM (site), Hewlett-Packard (site) and business service management provider BMC. To date, only IBM has targeted this midmarket segment with products like Tivoli Monitoring Express, which provides management and monitoring to SMBs.

 
Disaster-Proof Google Offers Free Recovery and Backup

Hey enterprise folk, how would you like a tool that relieves all concerns over backups or disaster recovery? Today Google announced such a feature (and it’s free).  

The Styles of Disaster

First, a bit about disasters.

Disaster recovery is usually measured in two terms:

  • Recovery Point Objective: RPO represents the amount of acceptable data loss in the event of an outage
  • Recovery Time Objective: RTO represents the acceptable amount of downtime before service is restored

Rajen Sheth, the senior product manager over at Google Apps says that for large companies running Storage Area Networks (SANs), RPO and RTO targets are generally an hour or less—and you best believe that kind of recovery costs some major dollars.

But for Google, that same target is zero, thanks to a little thing called synchronous replication.

Synchronous Replication

Sheth describes the feature like this:

“…every action you take in Gmail is simultaneously replicated in two data centers at once, so that if one data center fails, we nearly instantly transfer your data over to the other one that's also been reflecting your actions.”

Google hopes not to lose any data during the transfer from one center to another. Moreover, the goal is to transfer data so quickly that users won’t even notice when a data center experiences an interruption. And this feature doesn't only benefit Gmail accounts—users get the same level of data replication for Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sites.

Free Really Means Something

The whole synchronous replication concept isn't actually new, but it is generally expensive. Google says that to backup 25GB of data with synchronous replication, a business could shell out anywhere between US$150 and US$ 500 (or more) in storage and maintenance costs per employee. That total doesn't include the cost of the applications, either. 

Google is able to offer this feature for free because they operate many large data centers simultaneously for millions of users. This results in low costs while increasing resiliency and redundancy. Secondly, they don't spend money on stand-by data centers; they utilize everything they've got at once by balancing loads between data centers as needed.

The feature is now available to marvel at (and use) within Google Apps. 

"Of course, no backup solution from us or anyone else is absolutely perfect," admitted Sheth. "But we've invested a lot of effort to help make it second to none."

7 Google Docs Tips for Smarter Working, Smarter Collaboration

No longer in beta form and poised to snatch a portion of the market typically commanded by the stalwart Microsoft Office software suite — Google Docs is providing an as-of-yet unrivaled online document editing and collaboration platform for the masses. Here's 7 ways you can use it even better.

Developers at Google, many of whom are part of Google's own user community, are adding and improving features to an already brimming list of document tools at a rate higher than their user base can seemingly disseminate. Despite Google Docs’ intuitive interface, there are some worthwhile tips and lesser-known tricks to remember when working on your next project. Here they are.

1. Shared Folders

To help you organize files and information, Google Docs has been kind enough to include a folder tab for such a purpose. Simply select Folder from the Create new drop-down menu in Google Docs, customize your folder through a series of prompts, drag and drop your files into the new folder and enjoy the benefits of having your work aggregated, online in an easily accessible and shareable folder.

Google Docs 1a.jpg
Google Docs — Sharing Folders

2. Chatting While You Work

Instant connectivity and communication is vital in today’s fast-paced work environments. Naturally, Google Docs offers a chat feature to deliver on this necessity.

Whether you need to collaborate with a partner on a project or just get some insight and advice on your work, you're moments away from a chat session with this feature. By clicking the dropdown menu titled "Share" in a document and granting a person of your choosing access, you open the door to live communication.

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Google Docs — In-context Chat for Real Time Collaboration

3. Revisions Upon Revisions

Many a person has found themselves aimlessly hoping to revert back a copy of a document that is no longer available. With Google Docs, you are now able to track changes through a revision history and go between versions at your leisure.

Use this feature to keep track of the changes you’ve made during a document’s creation, share changes with partners or to aid in assessing the progress of your project.

Google Docs 3a.jpg
Google Docs — Revision History and Actions

4. Multi-page Forms

Forms can be useful for anyone looking to organize a substantial amount of collected data in a spreadsheet. Google Docs provides a forms feature that allows you to do just this. From the Docs list or a spreadsheet, you can create a new form. Tailor your form to your needs, and e-mail it away to your desired recipients; then create a spreadsheet with the data you gather.

5. Quick Document Viewer

Why struggle with a litany of applications to view Word, PDF, PPT, TIFF and other files when Google Docs offers a self-contained service to preview these documents on the fly?

Google Docs Viewer allows you to create a viewable document and send it to any number of recipients by mailing a hyperlink pointing to your document, resulting in a quickly accessible file addressed to your recipient without ever leaving a browsing session.

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Google Docs — Viewing and Sharing Documents Quickly

6. Script a Spreadsheet

Google Docs grants users the ability to become developers with the scripting feature in spreadsheets. The feature allows for nearly limitless functionality, bounded only by your knowledge of JavaScript.

Fear not, though, as code is readily available online to help customize your spreadsheet to your liking. Ideas for utilizing this feature include: creating an expense report, creating a timesheet and other workflow-improving ideas.

To start, navigate to the “Scripts” tab in the “Tools” drop-down menu in a spreadsheet. For a crash course on how to create a basic script, go here: http://www.google.com/google-d-s/scripts/yourfirstscript.html.

Note: You can also use Apps Scripts to script the creation of Google Sites.

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Google Docs — Adding Custom Scripting to Spreadsheets

7. Upload Any File

A recently launched feature for Google Docs is the upload any file feature. With it, users can — as indicated by its name — upload any file to Google’s servers, making it accessible online and sharable with your collaborators.

Additionally, uploaded files can be edited and stored within Google Docs. To begin, select "Upload" from the default Google Docs window and follow the prompts to upload your files.

Storage space is limited, but the good news is that you can buy as much as you need at reasonable rates.

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Google Docs — Upload Any File Type to Specified Folders (and share)

Google's Marketplace Spells Trouble for Microsoft

Google set off an enterprise-tastic bomb last night when they announced the opening of Google Marketplace, an online store for business apps. Now, we can’t help but wonder, is Microsoft an impending casualty?  

The Strip

We noted Microsoft’s attempt to be “the very best option” for cloud lovers late last year when they announced their app marketplace for Windows Azure. Dubbed PinPoint, the online store helps users find related experts, applications and professional services.

In addition to PinPoint, Microsoft released an information marketplace called Dallas. This part of Azure is designed to provide developers with content (data, imagery, real-time web services) from third-party providers through clean, consistent APIs. It’s the same idea as Salesforce's AppExchange and Apple's infamous iPhone App store.

Imagine all those little stores residing next to each other in a virtual strip mall. Combined, they form what is undoubtedly the largest directory of IT companies and their offerings we’ve got. Now, picture a Texas-sized, G-shaped supermarket dropping right down in the center of it all.

Google’s Mega Outlet

Google's marketplace will connect developers with their whopping 25 million Apps users and the 2 million businesses that have gone Google. Better yet, from what we can tell, the store is simple and straightforward. Here are some high points from the presentation:

  • Google says everything businesses need is now in the cloud
  • Developers don’t have to use App Engine to build—you can use whatever you want
  • Google asks for a one-time fee of US$ 100, and a 20% rev share
  • Big G already has Over 50 launch partners, including Zoho, Box.net, Atlassian and Aviary

 

This is nice compared to Microsoft which splits its market into two sectors, and even Salesforce.com, which forces you to build your apps on their platform.

 

Microsoft, Oh, Microsoft

This is the second time Google has stepped on Microsoft's toes in the last handful of days.
The first was G's acquisition of DocVerse, a startup that allows people to collaborate with MS Office documents online. 

“The future of productivity applications is in the cloud,” wrote Google Enterprise marketing specialist, Ellen Petry Leanse, on the company’s official blog. “…we recognize that many people are still accustomed to desktop software. So as we continue to improve Google Docs and Google Sites as rich collaboration tools, we’re also making it easier for people to transition to the cloud, and interoperate with desktop applications like Microsoft Office."

Microsoft is doing what it can (moving to the cloud was one of the most popular topic's at the SharePoint 2009 Conference in October). For starters, the new SharePoint Online—a solution similar to today's SharePoint Online, but for internet websites— is slated to come out with SharePoint 2010. 

How much do you want to bet Microsoft will announce a marketplace for SharePoint Online sometime in the near future?

Until then, do you see the Google Marketplace as the very best option? Does Microsoft stand a chance? Let us know what you think.

Zoho Integrates Productivity Suite with Facebook Connect

That’s right, Zoho (site) and Facebook (site) sitting in a tree, c-o-n-n(ect)i-n-g.

With already-established support for Google Apps and Yahoo accounts, yesterday Zoho added a social layer by integrating the ability to login through Facebook Connect.

Access Zoho Apps! With Facebook!

Forget your Zoho login information, all you need is your Facebook credentials. Plus, the combination of the two means you can share documents with Facebook users who don’t have a Zoho account. Logging in is simple; you'll see the Facebook icon right on the screen:

zoho_facebook_login.JPGLogin to Zoho with Facebook Connect

This is not to be confused with Zoho’s Facebook app, which allows users to create documents within the popular social network, and view/edit them from Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show.

And the Beat Goes On…

Zoho has tirelessly competed against Google Apps and the like for quite some time now. Their new adoption of Facebook Connect falls in line with the enterprise’s obvious turn towards social solutions, as well as promise a boost in users (how can it not when Facebook comes with a whopping 400 million users themselves?)

But Google is a pretty big—if not the biggest—fish. In recent times, we've seen the G team expand the use of Apps with new collaboration features, and various activities with Google Apps Script. Zoho, on the other hand, is smart for adding more support for what looks like is shaping up to be Google's biggest competitor. But we wonder, after this what moves are left for Zoho? 

Google Releases App Engine SDK v1.3.1

Attention, developers! Google’s kicked out their first SDK release of 2010. Version 1.3.1 comes with a handful of new features, as well as notable improvements to the Datastore.

Datastore Razzle

  • Datastore Query Cursors - Cursors enable applications to bookmark their progress so that it can be resumed later. Google says this works great in combination with paging URLs, as well as processing in the Task Queue API. 
  • No more 1000 result limit - Whether you're doing a fetch, iterating, or using a Cursor, there's no longer a limits on the number of results.
  • Reduced error rate with Automatic Datastore Retries - Apparently developers are tired of dealing with Datastore's sporadic errors (no surprise there). So now, App Engine automatically retries all datastore calls — with the exception of transaction commits — when applications encounter a datastore error. 

Version 1.3.1 Dazzle

For Python: Complete with the AppStats RPC instrumentation library. AppStats lets users profile the performance of calls from their app to the App Engine backend services to identify and isolate issues such as ineffective caching, bottlenecks, and redundant RPC calls in their app. (Google says a Java version is in beta testing now.)

For Java: The new unit-testing framework for your App Engine apps enables users to test application code in a "natural, fully supported manner", and also allows the integration of App Engine apps into other existing testing and automation frameworks. 

Changes in 1.3.1 also include Custom Admin Console pages, Support for wildcard domain mappings, and Java precompilation on by default for all applications. 

Interested? Download.