More than half a million businesses are using Google Apps, according to Jeremy Milo, senior marketing manager at Google. "Most of those are small businesses," he said. "It shows the power of the cloud."
Looking to let those small businesses collaborate on the Web in a secure fashion that doesn't require IT involvement, Google today announced Google Apps Team Edition. "It's a faster way for small businesses to collaborate and there's no new burden on IT staff," Milo said.
Another way to look at it is that Google Apps Team Edition allows users to sidestep IT departments because earlier versions of Google Apps required technical skills to set up e-mail domain verification and manage user rights and access. Today's news allows Google Apps to grow on an ad-hoc basis similar to the way instant messaging applications worked their way into businesses.
Milo said users asked for Google Apps to work with their business e-mail. To address that, Team Edition is domain-aware. That is, once you sign up for Team Edition using a verified company e-mail address, you can instantly invite others using that same e-mail domain to become part of your team.
"The domain-aware approach is a more secure way than other cloud-based solutions," Milo said. "It adds a protective wrapper."
Once you and your coworkers are on Team Edition, you can work on the same document, spreadsheet or presentation over the Web. You can also publish documents and calendars for the team to view and update.
And because it's a Web-based application, you can access documents from any computer with an Internet connection. You also access and sync information with mobile devices.
|» Altogether Now: Comparing Collaboration Software|
Google Apps Team Edition includes Google Docs to create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations; Google Calendar for meetings, schedules and events; Google Talk for instant messaging and free PC-to-PC voice calls; and Start Page, which is similar to iGoogle in that it provides a customizable dashboard where you can access Google Apps and other content.
If your IT department (or IT person) wants more administrative control, Milo said, you can upgrade from Google Apps Team Edition to Google Apps Standard (free) or Premier ($50 per user per year) for full administrative control. This is designed to provide the capability to set default sharing options, decide which applications are available on the network, enable gmail, or determine who has access.
Earlier this week, Google announced it was integrating Powered by Postini security services into Google Apps (see Google Adds E-mail Security and Compliance
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