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Google's Capgemini Deal Will Boost Software As A Service, Gartner Says

Large professional services firms could play an important role in further SaaS development, Gartner analyst Ben Pring wrote in a research report.

Google's deal to allow Capgemini to act as an officially approved integrator for its Google Apps suite shows that outsourcers have a big role to play in the burgeoning software-as-a-service market, a Gartner analyst says.

"Large professional services firms -- which were earlier wary of SaaS because of its potential impact on their current revenues -- could play an important role in further SaaS development," Gartner analyst Ben Pring wrote in a new research bulletin.

Outsourcer Capgemini said Monday that it had launched a service to help large businesses move from desktop office applications to Google's hosted Google Apps suite.

Outsourcers typically earn a significant portion of their revenue from helping companies manage and maintain in-house software -- a business that's threatened if significant numbers of enterprises starting using software on tap from Internet providers.

But Capgemini believes SaaS represents a market opportunity. Under a formal partnership, the company said it will offer its outsourcing customers access to Google Apps Premier Edition, which includes Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Gmail, Calendar, and Google Talk. Google launched the suite earlier this year in an effort to compete more aggressively with Microsoft in the office applications market.

In his research note, published Tuesday, Pring said that Google, and the SaaS market in general, will benefit if well-known outsourcers like Capgemini decide it's worth their while to wrap enterprise-class security and management services around hosted software.

"Capgemini would not align itself with Google and risk upsetting its relationship with Microsoft if it did not sense among its customer base of large multinational corporations a genuine interest in Google's application initiatives," Pring wrote.

Pring said it's less risky if large enterprises considering Google Apps and other hosted offerings are able to access them through services providers with proven track records for software integration and management.

Capgemini said it plans to help customers transition to Google Apps and integrate the software with their existing applications. The Paris-based outsourcer did not disclose pricing for the service. Purchased directly from Google, Internet access to Google Apps Premier Edition costs $50 per user, per year.

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