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Google Releases Collaboration-Oriented Version of Online Apps

A new Team Edition of Google Apps enables workers to set up collaborative work environments without involving the IT department.The Google Apps Team Edition has most of the same components as the standard Google Apps, with a twist: when an employee logs on from a business's address, they can see who else in the same Internet domain is also a user and invite them to share documents and calendars. They can also invite others in the organization who aren't already signed up to create an account and participate in the sharing.

This user-generated implementation bypasses the need for administrators, for better or worse. On the one hand, users can create workgroups without putting additional demands on IT resources, which will be a welcome ability in many smaller businesses where such resources are limited. On the other hand, it means that company data will be stored outside the organization's firewalls, a concern especially in sectors like health care and finance, where control of information is paramount. "The IT department always has the option to sign up for the Standard Edition for free if they want to provide control over this," said Rajen Sheth, Google Apps senior product manager.

Industry analysts see Google Apps Team Edition as part of an inevitable trend. Team Edition will be just one example of the hosted software that employees use in their organizations without getting approval from the IT department, said Erica Driver, a Forrester Research analyst. And Gartner has predicted that "by 2010, end-user preferences will decide as much as half of all software, hardware and services acquisitions made by IT."The New York Times, InformationWeek, SiliconValley.com

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