Update march 11th: And here’s the business model: Google announces the Google Apps Marketplace.
As a software engineer, I am excited to see all the possibilities offered by the Google Apps. Finally I can write custom applications that integrate nicely with a company’s existing office infrastructure. In the past, this has always been hard (and that equals expensive) to achieve. Today, Google Apps offers a better way…
Traditionally, custom web applications stood around kind of isolated within a company IT infrastructure. They were exposed through some URL that everybody found in their mailbox one day and that was pretty much it. Typical applications would churn out a few reports every day and flood somebody’s Outlook Inbox with that. The organization would always have to go through the motions again to get a user-base into the custom app and configuring all the right permissions inside the custom app. A lot of time was lost.
Then portals (most notably those based on the JSR-168 spec) came around, and things got a little better, as functionality and information was now offered to the employees in a more coherent fashion.
Today, I argue that for many organizations a mix of Google Apps Premier and custom applications is the most functionality-rich and maintainable solution.
A couple of scenarios in which this approach makes your business run smoother
- Reports don’t go to some email-address but are nicely stored in Google Docs, where they can be accessed by people that have the permissions required. No more ‘hey where did those reports go’? when an employee that was previously receiving them has left the company. Sure, you always took precautions for something like that not to happen. With Google Apps it becomes much easier not to even have to worry about it.
- If something that happens within a custom application sparks the creation of a Task for an employee, it can be added to his Task list that already comes with Google Apps. Right there where they expect it.
This list could be made much longer, but I’m sure you get the general idea: Tight integration between your regular office software and your custom applications makes your business run smoother.
How is this achieved?
- Single Sign On is achieved through OpenID, which comes with Google Apps for businesses. Your employees will not have to remember a dozen of logins anymore, as is now so often the case. They will not even be prompted for a password anymore.
- Functionality can be exposed to users by linking to it from your Intranet, easily built with Google Sites (again, a part of Google Apps Premium)
- Tight integration between calendars, documents and your customs applications is achieved by custom applications by letting them communicate with Google’s excellently documented Apps API.