Google Apps Roulette, Round 2

Have you checked out the Google Apps Marketplace recently? It's grown.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

Have you checked out the Google Apps Marketplace recently? It's grown. A lot. So much, in fact, that it's difficult to know where to start. Yet even for businesses using the free Standard Google Apps, there is a huge amount of value available in these third-party apps, many of which are also free (or at least take a freemium model very appropriate for small businesses and organizations).  A while back, I highlighted what I saw as the most interesting and/or promising of the Apps Marketplace launch partners. It's time to revisit the Marketplace, though, because it has become quite a rich resource.

Google announced earlier this week that it had added 16 new applications to the Marketplace.  The new apps ranged from project management tools to meeting organization software to additional social collaboration tools.  According to the Google Enterprise blog,

These apps, like all installable apps in the Marketplace, offer single sign on with your existing Google Apps user accounts, so there are no new user names or passwords to manage. Beyond single sign on, many offer deeper data integration with Google Docs, Gmail, and Google calendar to help users work more efficiently, regardless of which app they happen to be using to get their job done.

As Google focuses on core issues of performance, usability, fidelity, and management within Apps to make the products more attractive to enterprise customers, third-party developers have been hard at work creating turnkey solutions for a range of business needs.  Some provide direct enhancements to Apps, while others are simply a value-add for customers looking to centrally manage cloud applications.  Still others, like Memeo Connect, make the transition from desktop to cloud computing more seamless.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be featuring several of the new applications (as well as some old apps that were noteworthy but didn't bubble to the surface).  I've already installed project management, CRM, social collaboration, and email marketing applications on my own Google Apps domain.  I'll also try to better categorize the available apps since the Marketplace has become somewhat overwhelming with similar, related, and/or redundant applications.  While the redundancy isn't bad (it's always good to have competition and choice in terms of interface or implementation), it can make trolling through the Marketplace a bit confusing.

Regardless of what I end up reviewing specifically, the takeaway here is that third-party developers are providing rich solutions that allow Google Apps to compete with the Office/Sharepoint juggernaut.  The real value proposition here comes from the absolute ease with which complete, ready-to-use solutions to a variety of business problems can be added to an existing Google Apps deployment.  While Sharepoint and the countless Windows applications that already exist offer powerful solutions, Google Apps and its Marketplace offer nearly unbeatable simplicity in the cloud.

Now, off to the Marketplace to decide on my first review!

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