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Naomi Grossman
Naomi Grossman
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Report: Google Apps Worth a Look by Small, Midsize Businesses

Small and midsize businesses should keep an eye on Google Apps. "It's just starting and it will get better," says an analyst who recently penned a report about Google's hosted desktop apps

Would you read a 55-page report aimed at enterprise architects?

Neither would, nor did, I. The report's daunting title,"Google Apps in the Enterprise: A Promotion-Enhancing or Career-Limiting Move for Enterprise Architects?" (free but registration required) didn't immediately call to me. But what I read about the report did intrigue me.

So I called Burton Group analyst Guy Creese, who wrote it.

Creese is aggravated. "People are commenting on the report without reading it," he said in a phone interview. (I hung my head in shame -- but it's 55 pages!) "The impression is Google Apps isn't applicable to large enterprises." Creese defines large enterprise as anything over 500 employees, which at bMighty is considered midsize.

But he insisted the report doesn't say that. What about small and midsize companies? "It depends what they're looking for. There is no one-size-fits-all answer."

"[Google Apps] could be useful," he continued. For instance, if a company uses Microsoft Office and wanted to get into collaboration but doesn't want the expense and complexity of Sharepoint, Google Apps could plug that hole. Sharepoint does require in-house IT staff to manage the servers and the coordination. Many small to midsize companies don't have the IT staff to accommodate that, and that's where Google Apps can come in, said Creese.

"It could augment Office but leave the official, final document creation to Office," he added, because Apps still doesn't have all the features -- like creating a table of contents or automatic headers and footers -- of Office.

But, said Creese, if a company doesn't do PowerPoint presentations and doesn't need Excel's complexity and its Word documents are standard, then Google Apps will suffice.

"With Office, you can pay for apps you don't need," he said.

The bottom line is, for companies with at least 500 employees, Creese is not recommending Google Apps as a total solution. He doesn't like its lack of records management features and the fact that there aren't different security standards for different users.

To the accusation that since the Burton Group earns its revenue from "consulting on enterprise collaboration software installs," it's deliberately gunning for Google Apps, Burton says no. "I call it as I see it," he insisted.

In fact, he had some nice things to say about Google and they were words small to midsize businesses should keep in mind.

"Google has started SaaS [software as a service] and it will be a big thing. They got the ball rolling. The smart thing is to keep an eye on this. It's just starting and it will get better. The bad move is to jump in now when the offerings are immature. A year from now, Google Apps will be very different than what it is today," he added. "For a small to midsize business, it's worth waiting to see what Microsoft does in the space. It's worth waiting till you have the folks battling it out and see who has the best solution for you."

Naomi Grossman, Assistant Editor.

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