Google on Thursday vastly expanded the scope of Google Apps, its online productivity suite, by adding access to over 60 of its other online apps.
These include services like Google Voice, Picasa, YouTube, Google Maps, Blogger and Google Translate, among others.
"We're basically opening up the gates to all these services that are available to Google Account personal users," said Dennis Troper, director of product management for Google Enterprise, in a phone interview.
Google Apps users could use these other Google applications previously by logging in through a personal Google Account. As of today, they can use the additional applications under a Google Apps account. This allows businesses to offer employees access to an expanded array of applications under the oversight of a Google Apps administrator.
"Google Apps is bringing very dramatic IT cost savings to the enterprise," said Troper. Beyond lowering management costs and alleviating the need to purchase servers, Google Apps makes employees more productive, he said.
To back up that claim, Troper cited a recent Forrester Research study that found that switching to Google Apps resulted in a 2.5x productivity increase and 300% ROI.
"These are radical productivity gains," he said, noting that 9 of the top 20 requests Google receives related to Google Apps are requests for access to the services available to personal Google Accounts.
The additional services are not covered by the Google SLA or telephone support, but Google says it will consider feedback about this.
Troper anticipates that organizations may want employees who have been using Google services outside of IT department oversight to migrate business data in personal accounts to Google Apps accounts. He says that Google provides data migration tools to facilitate that process.
In addition to expanding access to its services, Google has simplified its Google Apps branding. Google Apps Premiere Edition is no more. Instead, the product line breaks down as follows: Google Apps, free for groups of up to 50; Google Apps for Business, $50/year for 25GB of Gmail storage, 99% uptime, data migration, phone support, security and management tools; Google Apps for Government, FISMA certified for local, state and federal agencies; and Google Apps for Education, like Google Apps for Business but at no cost for qualified educational and non-profit organizations.