Google updates its Apps for Your Domain service so businesses and educational institutions can create free of charge start pages that combine Google search, e-mail, calendars and instant messaging with private-label branding and content.
Google Apps for Your Domain is getting an update that allows organizations to create customized start pages that combine their own corporate branding and specialized content with the Google search, e-mail, calendars and instant messaging.
Google wants large corporations, SMBs (small and midsize businesses), nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities to deploy their own Google apps start pages as "the place where organizations will send their usersnot only for the apps that we offer, but also for the content that is relevant to them," said Raju Gulabani, Googles director of product management.
A number of organizations have already launched their own customized Google start pages, including Arizona State University, Gateway Computer, Clarin, a major Argentine ISP and the Sea Change Fund, a small business that invests in sustainable fishery programs.
Google officials contend that thousands of educational institutions and tens of thousands of businesses have shown interest in the enhanced start pages and said many of them will soon start launching their own pages. Google apps included on the page include e-mail, calendars, the Google Talk instant messaging and the Page Creator application.
Google plans to add more productivity applications in the near future, said Mike Horowitz, Google Apps product manager.
The pages are hosted by Google on its massively scalable computing platform to provide storage and system performance while displaying an organizations own domain name and branding.
Horowitz said that the Google start page represents a cost-effective way to create a Web page that conveys information and nurtures relationships with users, employees, customers and community members.
It can be rapidly changed to present fresh information or project a specialized branding for an organization or for a particular event.
The start page offers instant access to Google search and related Google applications and can serve as an adjunct to an organizations global home page or in some cases become the home page.
Google Apps for Your Domain is free to any organization that wants to create a page. Organizations can visit www.google.com/a/ to sign up and begin work in the Google Start Page editor. Schools and universities go to a separate page, www.google.com/a/edu, to gain access to the service. Google officials said the company is planning to offer a premium, for-pay start page service for large organizations with advanced content and design needs.
Arizona State University on Nov. 13 officially launched it Google Apps start page, which allows students to preview their e-mail and check their class schedule for the day. The latest university news and events are also posted on the page and give students access to more detailed information available deeper into the universitys Web site.
In a blog on the launch of the ASU start page, the universitys technology officer, Adrian Sannier, wrote that working with the Google Apps start page made more sense then committing the university to spending the money to purchase or develop its own equivalent applications.
"Allying with Google gives ASU access not only to todays innovative Google Apps suitethat is an order of magnitude better than what ASU could field on its ownbut it also puts ASU on an accelerated technology trajectory that is capable of keeping pace with the leaders in the field," Sannier wrote.
The Google apps suite frees up the universitys IT staff to focus on education technology and applications that are most crucial to students and faculty, he noted.
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John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.