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Google Gmail Loses Functionality

Problems with accessing the online e-mail's IMAP feature fuel concerns about uptime and reliability as well as business adoption of software as a service.
Google has taken a relatively soft approach to marketing Google Apps to businesses, letting its partners do much of the work and putting much of its faith in the "consumerization of IT," in which consumers of cloud computing grow its presence within businesses and ultimately overthrow traditional software. Most of the Google App revenue comes just from $50-per-year seat subscriptions, representing just tens several hundred of millions of dollars a year for the $17 billion company. But that's nothing to downplay, said Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs. "If we were separate from Google, we'd be a very successful startup that probably would have gone public by now," he said in an interview earlier this week.

Panorama is among Google's partners. It's announcing on Thursday a new service to move data for customers using SQL Server Analysis Services, Microsoft's OLAP engine, and port it into its own BI software, on which users can analyze data using Google's spreadsheet. It plans to offer similar services this year to let users access data from Salesforce, SAP, and Netsuite systems. Most business users classify BI as "the basic capabilities in a spreadsheet," not the BI tools used by financial whizzes, said Panorama VP Oudi Antebi. But so far, Microsoft is the only game in town. After IBM/Cognos, SAP/Business Objects, Oracle and Microsoft, "Panorama won't be the fifth largest BI company, but it definitely will be Google," Antebi predicts.

The Schumacher Group, a management company for 2,500 contracted physicians, is using Salesforce.com as a SaaS platform: some of its employees use Salesforce CRM, but it also uses software services through Salesforce's AppExchange program and runs some of its internally developed apps on Salesforce's infrastructure. The company has chosen Google Apps for its physicians, many of whom may not be using Microsoft Office in their private offices. CIO Doug Menefee also is considering the new Salesforce/Google Apps offering for some of its clerical workers using Salesforce.

Yet there's work to be done on Google's part, and Microsoft's legacy remains in other areas. The company won't exchange any patient information in Google Apps. "Until Google can say 'this is our approach to HIPAA, and we're HIPAA compliant,' where going to use it for more back-office communications," Menefee said. Schumacher Group continues to use Microsoft Sharepoint and Exchange; Menefee calls them "proven solutions," adding he has the in-house expertise for leveraging those apps for communications and collaboration.