"It's the biggest launch since Google Apps launched," said Rishi Chandra, product manager for Google's online application suite.
Chandra was touting today's release of Google Sites, a Web-based application designed to make creating a team Web site as easy as editing a document. Using Google Sites, the company claims, people can quickly gather a variety of information in one place including videos, calendars, presentations, attachments and text.
Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise, said Google Apps is the platform that makes the collaboration services possible. "Two thousands organizations a day are signing up [for Google Apps] and the vast majority are small businesses."
|» Google Shows It's a Team Player|
"This solves the collaboration problem," Glotzbach said. "The tools have been out in products like Lotus Notes and [Microsoft] Sharepoint but only for larger customers."
According to Google, creating and editing pages in a Google Site requires no knowledge of HTML or Web design skills, and it requires no IT staff to build, maintain or scale the Web site. "Traditionally, small businesses have been left out," Chandra said. "We're trying to deliver a new way to deploy for 10, 100 or 1,000 users in a matter of minutes. It's one click and you can go."
To use Google Sites, you need to sign up for Google Apps communication and collaboration services through Team Edition. After Google verifies your e-mail address, you can invite others who share the same e-mail domain to join to share documents through the intranet or public-facing Web site. "Googles Sites makes editing a Web site as easy as editing a document. It should be that easy, but it hasn't been," Chandra said.
|Google says building a Google Site is a one-click process.|
Chandra said you can add any type of document to Google Sites, including third-party Google Gadgets. You can also embed content from other Google products such as YouTube, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Picasa.
Google Sites was designed primarily to provide a way to share information internally, Glotzbach said, through intranets, portals and dashboards. However, an organization has the option to publish Google Sites to the public Internet, where it becomes searchable by Google and other search engines.
"It's likely the broadest adoption will be for internal collaboration," Nucleus Research's Rebecca Wettemann said. "However, for small businesses looking to quickly launch a new public site to meet a particular product or business need, this is a low maintenance and cost effective option."
Does Google Sites offer enough to cut into Microsoft's Sharepoint? The jury is still out on that one, Wettemann said. "For small businesses, free is the right price. It enables them to provide capabilities they couldn't afford to support with SharePoint or larger, more pricey competitors," she said. "However, Google Sites's functionality is pretty rudimentary at this point compared to some other options. I expect we'll see Google develop more templates and workflows or give developers a place to share them moving forward."
Google Sites is based on JotSpot technology, which Google purchased for an undisclosed sum a little more than a year ago.
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