Dave Girouard, VP of product management at Google, announced the improvements at Atmosphere 2011, an annual gathering Google hosts for business IT executives. He suggested that the new capabilities represented a way to make the consumerization of IT easier for companies to manage.
"It's increasingly difficult for any employer to tell any employee what devices to use," Girouard said, noting that organizations benefit from supporting a diverse selection of devices because prospective employees gravitate toward companies that support technological choice.
Acknowledging one of the lingering concerns that continues to hinder cloud service adoption--security--Girouard insisted that the cloud is more secure than traditional on-premises software because the cloud is designed so you can enforce policies from the center.
"These diverse environments actually can be more secure than what we're accustomed to seeing," he said.
[Google is now offering Google Apps business customers 24 x 7 phone support.]
Google has offered device management and sync capabilities since 2010. The new capabilities allow mobile policies like password requirements and roaming sync preferences to be defined by user group. They also include mobile analytics, to help companies understand mobile device usage as it pertains to worker productivity.
Google has also updated its Google Apps Device Policy app for Android to help users understand what usage information is available to administrators and to add support for Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
In addition, Google plans to bring more companies into the preview of BigQuery, the company's nascent data analytics service. The company is inviting business customers to sign up for a chance to try BigQuery's new Web-based graphical user interface for exploring data, its REST API support for multiple background jobs, and its improved table and permission management.