Google nuzzles up to team collaboration with a
version of Google Apps that competes with Microsoft Live Workspace
and IBM's Lotus Quickr suites.
Sharing documents and files with coworkers through Google Apps
may be a fine alternative to collaboration
software from Microsoft and
. But IT
departments have still had to configure the apps so groups of users can
share them more easily.
Google is changing that to enable easier team collaboration in the cloud by
releasing Google Apps Team Edition Feb. 7.
The software lets users share Google Docs word processing, spreadsheets and
presentations, Calendars, and Talk instant messaging and VOIP (voice over
Internet Protocol) without requiring IT staffs to verify valid domains, Google
Enterprise Senior Product Manager Rajen Seth told eWEEK.
Previously, if multiple groups within a company were using Docs, it was
difficult for them to discover each other. Apps Team Edition breaks down these
barriers, Seth said.
Apps Team Edition lets users go to their start page and use their e-mail
address to validate their business or school, similar to the way users would
log on to Facebook or another social network. The software keeps track of
employees' work e-mail addresses, informs workers about who else from that
domain is also enrolled, and then lets workers share based on their work
"For example, if I want to go and share a document with you, I can see
all of the people within my company that have Google Docs and can easily find
out if I can share a document with you," Seth said.
Coworkers or classmates can then work on the same document, spreadsheet or
presentation instead of e-mailing changes in multiple copies of the same
attachment; publish documents and calendars for the team to access; and access
information from any computer or Web-based mobile phone.
analyst Melissa Webster said Apps
Team Edition extends the value of Apps beyond the Standard consumer edition,
which requires users who want to share documents to indicate who they're
sharing with and how for each document. It's also an alternative to Google Apps
for Your Domain, in which teams can collaborate once IT migrates company e-mail
to Google's servers.
"What if you don't want to change e-mail servers [and move to Google's
e-mail]?" Webster asked eWEEK. "That's a bit cumbersome when you want
to collaborate with a more routine group, as on team projects."
Google jazzes up Apps for the iPhone. Check the new features.
With Apps Team Edition, Google is also getting up to speed with suites from
rivals Microsoft and
. All three vendors
are slugging it out for share in the multibillion-dollar collaboration software
Forrester Research analyst Erica Driver said the move helps Google provide
team collaboration on par with Microsoft's Live WorkSpace and
Lotus Quickr suites.
"This is something that's really important for teams and productivity,
and it was missing, so it's great to have this as part of the suite,"
Like Google Apps Standard and Apps Education Edition, Apps Team Edition is
free, though businesses and universities can switch to the Standard and
Education editions, or even the $50-per-user-per-year Premier paid edition, if
Full administrative control is offered for those editions, including the
ability for IT managers to set default sharing options, pick which applications
are available on the network or decide who has access.