As businesses become more adept at using technology to their advantage, individuals are increasingly embracing the concept of cloud computing, where applications, platforms and infrastructure are provided as a service, rather than a product. Information, software and shared resources are made available via the internet to a variety of end users with different devices – laptops, smartphones, tablets, etcetera. One of the benefits of cloud computing is that it allows businesses to get websites and applications up and running more quickly, and to manage them more easily and with less maintenance.
The benefits of Google Apps
Unlike traditional software packages, Google Apps are cost-effective, as they require no software or hardware. Apps such as Gmail, Google Docs, Talk, Google Groups, Google Calendar and Google Sites can be accessed from, for example, laptops, mobile phones or desktop computers. This means they are ideal for mobile working.
One significant advantage is the capacity for collaboration; information within Google Calendar and Google Sites can be shared and several employees in a business can work on a document in Google Docs, for example, without having to constantly email versions of it to one another, saving the business employee time and money.
Likewise the email programme, Gmail, has a generous storage allowance of 25GB plus several time-saving features, such as prioritising and labelling systems for mail, which allows employees to spend more time on their core workload and less time on dealing with email. Gmail also has customised tools to filter and control spam, powered by Postini, which protects sensitive data and keeps networks safe. It includes a Microsoft Outlook interface to help businesses moving to Gmail and Google Calendar.
Google Sites provides a free and easy way to create websites and to share pages with others. It provides lots of free templates to make the task of creating a website even easier.
Reliability is very good and Google Apps can be synchronised – Google Sites, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar – and stored in multiple data centres. Should one centre fail, the data automatically switches instantly to another without users ever being aware.
Security is a top priority – Google’s cloud-based networks have been examined and certified by the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA). This means Google Apps comply with FISMA guidelines for security controls.
There is also customer support around the clock via email, online or phone for help dealing with any critical issues.
Launched in February 2006, Gmail was the earliest of the Google Apps and was at that time tied to a specific domain, as were the apps that were added later that year. The family of Apps for Education was then created and the first Premier Edition for enterprise was added in 2007, when email storage was also increased. In 2008 Google Sites was made available to domains hosted by Google Apps.
Since then, Google Apps has developed into a much more powerful family of cloud-based services and there are now myriad highly sophisticated editions of Google Apps including the latest version of Premier Edition, which enables Google Sites to be shared across an entire company.