Well, it's taken awhile amid my grumpiness over vaguely improved management features in Google Apps, but I'm finally ready to remind myself why I remain a loyal Apps user. Apps isn't perfect, but its core services are strong and user friendly and, perhaps just as importantly, a strong ecosystem of integrated third-party applications can add considerable value to Google's cloud-based groupware suite.
To that end, I've committed to a new round of Apps Roulette, where I take a deep dive into the most interesting of Google's Marketplace Apps. Before I get started with Slide Rocket later tonight, I'd like to talk about the wishlists for Apps that readers have submitted and that I have myself.
Interestingly, management was on the talkbacks wishlist, although those readers were referring to management of the Apps themselves. This is a genuine need and one that Google may actually have to address. As you add more of these Apps, Google handles the identity federation fairly well, but does little to provide a unified interface for managing the Apps. That generally requires administrators to jump out to external sites. While single sign on and even very basic integration with Google Apps makes third-party cloud-based services more attractive than those that can't be federated via Google Apps, a single App to rule them all, so to speak, would be incredibly useful.
In the same way, since Google continues to struggle with differentiated user privileges and service presentation, an App that can address that critical need would probably be worth paying for. I'll be looking at SherpaTools, but I just don't think we're there yet (and, in fact, the Apps API simply may not support such a thing).
Another reader emailed me looking for a cloud-based relational database application. Well wouldn't that be cool? There are several Apps that let you connect to and integrate relational database products, but imagine an easily-managed cloud-based instance of MySQL that could use Forms, Docs, and Spreadsheets for data collection and presentation.
Another reader was unhappy with the current crop of CRM applications. This surprised me, since CRM applications are particularly abundant in the Marketplace. However, given that I'm trying to get my consulting firm off the ground and I'm accumulating contacts faster than I can remember who I'm supposed to write about versus who I'm supposed to write for, a good CRM application is probably in order. I'll be testing a few.
I'd also like to integration of a content management system with Apps. We're already seeing integration of Blogger with Apps, but I want users to be able to publish a Doc or Presentation to a blog or site page. I want email notifications of changes and updates to content in the CMS and I want users to be able to email posts and comments. I want easy integration of Forms. I know, I want a lot, but this is a wish list after all. Avactis has a CMS component but is really focused on ecommerce.
That should do it for now since there is already so much rich content in the Marketplace. Any other wishes? Stay tuned for a look at Slide Rocket.