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Gorilla stomps into enterprise apps

You're thinking about the cloud and you're thinking about applications: which ones and how? Think of Google's online applications and you think about documents and spreadsheets, not enterprise line-of-business applications.
Written by Manek Dubash, Contributor on

You're thinking about the cloud and you're thinking about applications: which ones and how? Think of Google's online applications and you think about documents and spreadsheets, not enterprise line-of-business applications. Now you should.

Google has launched Google Apps Marketplace, which adds to its basic, consumer-oriented applications, faxing, ERP, web-conferencing, design and CRM, to name but a few of the 50-odd new applications. To step back just a moment, what's happening is that Google is focusing clearly on the rationale for the move towards the cloud: it's not servers, not storage but applications.

The initiative takes advantage of the the emergence of the very term 'apps', now popularised by the Jesus phone, and the concept of an appstore. More importantly, the applications have been designed or tweaked to work together so that they can share data; according to the site, applications "can share data with services like Google Calendar and Google Docs and are accessible from Google Apps' universal navigation bar".

Google Apps Marketplace is not free: what Google has done is to corral the output from a number of software houses and allowed them to use the marketplace as a portal, allowing you to rent applications as your business needs them.

Lots of online service providers have worked hard to make this a reality for their customers but few have Google's brand visibility. It remains to be seen if enterprises will take Google seriously, but there can be little doubt that Google itself takes this initiative seriously, and aims to monetise its presence in the enterprise.

How successful it will be will depend to a large extent on the terms and conditions it offers developers, which will influence the extent to which they're attracted to the platform. There will be resistance from the large software developers such as SAP, who have already established their own portals and brand awareness, and who won't be keen to hide in a Google appstore.

Don't bet against large enterprises taking advantage of the new Google platform -- at least on a tactical level. Many technologies in large organisations entered that way and are now well-entrenched: PCs, USB memory, social networking, WiFi -- the list goes on. And the fact that payment is involved is a signal to enterprises that they can take these applications seriously, and can, presumably, negotiate SLAs -- this issue is as yet unclear.

Microsoft should be afraid. And so should a long list of established service providers.

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