From the You-Know-When-Ajax-Has-Gone-Mainstream-Dept, Google announced today it will be offering businesses a premium service for its key productivity applications, at $50/user/year. The package includes:
- Access to office-style applications – Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Page Creator. No presentation package yet – perhaps Google should acquire S5 :-).
- Access to communication applications – GMail (@your-own-domain), Google Calendar, Google Talk (voice/IM).
- Access to Google Homepage (maybe corporations could deck this out to become their intranet homepage?)
- Control panel to manage the domain
- Ads can be turned off
- Storage at 10GB/user
- Integration with organisation’s sign-on and email infrastructure
- Phone support
The apps themselves are available to anyone, but the integration and extra services come with the premium service. Google provides this comparison table.
The giant elephant in this room is your company’s data sitting on Google’s servers. In the absence of an “Apps Appliance” sitting inside the firewall, there will always be a major proportion of the market unwilling to commit to a solution like this – increased risk of data loss, theft, and manipulation. Google’s pure-external model keeps things nice and simple, but it’s not for everyone.
Zoho, for example, offers “in-premise edition” to run inside an organization’s network. Similarly, Zimbra’s collaboration app. It’s also becoming possible to make your own stack, with apps like Wikicalc and the various wikis, though nothing as comprehensive as Google’s offering. It’s feasible MS will move their apps in that direction too.
The comparison among these approaches will be worth watching in coming months. For now, though, it’s great to see how much Ajax and the web has evolved in the past two years, with Google providing a lot of the inspiration. From TechCrunch: “Beyond competition and concerns, tonight is a good time to recognize the incredible force of innovation that Google is as well. Its nearly full-service suite of sophisticated, integrated online services is something of historic proportion.”