The switch to cloud computing doesn't have to mean giving up administrative power.
Corporate users of Google Apps are gaining access to an increasing array of third-party products and services to make cloud computing more easily managed.
The latest such tools come from Google enterprise partner LTech, which on Monday introduced LTech Single Sign-On for Google Apps and LTech Power Panel for Google Apps.
The Single Sign-On product allows Google Apps customers to use their existing corporate credentials, such as account information from ActiveDirectory or LDAP-based directory services. It also provides systems administrators with password management capabilities.
The Power Panel release is an upgrade to an earlier version of the Google Apps lifecycle management product that was made available in September.
The new features include: a New User Gadget, which allows Power Panel features to be accessed from Gmail; a Contacts Journal for organizing contacts from outside of the user's organization; QuickLinks for Information Workers, which facilitates the distribution of links to workflow applications, forms, and documents; Shared Contact Search, for searching contacts throughout an organization; and lifecycle management macros and templates for administrators, including worker onboarding and offboarding templates, and macros for group-wide password reset, IMAP and POP activation.
This kind of IT administrative capability might be useful, suggests Ed Laczynski, founder and CTO for LTech, if an executive went on a trip and forgot to set his or her "Out of the Office" message.
Google Apps has been making headway in terms of business adoption, as can be seen from the recent decision by the City of Los Angeles to replace its legacy e-mail and office applications with Google services in the cloud. But users often resist change or don't know what new capabilities are available.
"As we move customers to platforms like Google Apps, we have to be cognizant of the 'who moved my Outlook?' problem," said Laczynski.
While Laczynski maintains that most user come to appreciate Google Apps over time, he also acknowledges that there are often gaps in integration.
"They may love the Gmail model, but if they can't access their CRM data there's an issue," said Laczynski.
According to Laczynski, organizations can manage the transition to Google Apps more effectively by making users are aware of the new collaboration possibilities and by encouraging users to move away from e-mailed attachments toward real-time sharing.
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