Gmail and Google Docs can provide better collaboration and security than most companies can on their own, said Google Enterprise's mid-market sales chief.
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Organizations that want to save money, innovate, and move faster than the competition can do so by going "100% Web," Google's Jay Remley argued in a presentation Friday.
Remley heads mid-market sales for Google Enterprise, which provides the Google Apps family of communication, collaboration, and productivity tools. Jaguar/Land Rover and Genentech have been saving millions with Google cloud services, he said at the Midsize Enterprise Summit East in Orlando. And smaller organizations like law firms value the improved collaboration, combined with better security, that Google offers, which is better than they could deliver on their own, he said. In one benchmarked study of the U.K. newspaper chain Telegraph Media Group, Forrester Research saw a risk-adjusted return on investment of 307% with Google, with payback within seven months, he said.
The efficiencies come from tools like Google Docs, which allow people to not only create documents but collaborate on changing and improving them, and Gmail, which has evolved to go beyond email and functions as a "communications hub" that also can include gadgets for integration with other cloud applications like Salesforce.com, Remley said. Through the Google App Engine, which supports custom development in the cloud, and the Google Marketplace, customers can extend the Google Apps environment to include features beyond those Google itself offers.
Most of all, Remley argued, Google's services represent an opportunity for IT teams to unburden themselves from patching and maintaining years' worth of legacy systems. Not only is patching an unproductive use of IT time, but most organizations wind up running about six to eight weeks behind on implementing software patches, he said.
"When we talk about going 100% Web, what that means is that apps should be delivered through a browser, and the application should be all you need," he said. "We provide you with tools that will let you rip off the Band-Aids one at a time, or all at once."
Remley faced a skeptical audience during Q&A. One man said that "considering the way Google mines our personal information" for advertising purposes, he had serious concerns about giving it sensitive data. "Can you tell us what you do to protect customer data from, essentially, from you?" Remley assured him Google meets high standards for security, with SAS 70 Type II accreditation for its data centers and "does not scan your corporate data, other than to index it for your use."
Other audience members hit him with questions about the quality of Google Talk voice calls ("the quality for international calls was just terrible"), offline access to cloud applications ("our experience with Gears has been, frankly, that it's kind of clunky"), and Postini, the email filtering and archiving service Google acquired in 2007 ("frankly, the support is not very good").
Remley said improvements are on the way in each of those areas--a new version of Google Talk that will be more competitive with Skype, improvements to offline access coming "in the next month or two," and 24x7 live support for Postini, which by mid-year will be supported by the same team as other Google Apps products.
Following his presentation, Remley said potential midmarket customers routinely hit him with hard questions on security. "My response is always, we think we're pretty good on security, probably especially versus your part-time security person" who probably only gets to devote a few hours a week to the task, he said.
The IT groups at midsize enterprises are often so wrapped up with dealing with the basics of PC and server support and upgrades that they have little attention left over to focus on issues like improved collaboration, Remley said. But business managers at those same organizations see the inefficiency in trying to run too many projects by email, where a dozen people will make edits to the same document and a project manager is forced to reconcile all those versions. With Google Docs, they could instead have all been working with the same document online, he said.
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