Challenges for Google Docs, Apps

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-08-28 Print this article Print

Chandra said users can expect a two-way street when it comes to Google Apps and Wave, which is set to roll out for 100,000 users to test on Sept. 30.

"It's an experiment for us but ... what we'll find is a continuum where Wave will integrate with Google Apps, or we'll take the technology from Wave and embed it directly into the applications themselves," Chandra said.

Still, the Google Apps team, with its promise of enterprise-grade quality, remains under heavy scrutiny. Google has suffered widely publicized outages, and Docs has been found to have some security flaws.

These instances have thrown the reliability of Web-based or cloud computing apps into question as many experts look at Google as a leader in SAAS (software as a service) collaboration software. Questions around Google's product quality crop up as well.

For example, a few of the blog posts on the new translation capabilities in Google Docs were subjected to pointed but fair criticism. Google Operating System's Alex Chitu wrote: "The problem is that in both cases there's no link between the original document and the translation. To better translate documents collaboratively, Google should integrate Google Translator Toolkit into Google Docs."

ReadWriteWeb's Steven Walling took issue with the translation quality of the tool with regard to its use within enterprises:

"We translated the first paragraph of the Google article on Wikipedia from English to Chinese and then back to English. If you try this same kind of test yourself, it quickly becomes obvious that this is no replacement for a human being; a good deal of meaning was lost in the process. We didn't really expect this to be of mind-blowing perfection. But Google has definitely been pushing Google Apps as a suite worth spending big bucks on. To have something that unreliable included in a product they're marketing as enterprise-grade software is not the best idea."

These conflicts come amid a number of positive developments. Earlier this week, Google enabled Gmail to connect with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. In July, Google launched Google Apps, including Gmail and Docs, from beta.

The company has also created a connector between Microsoft Office and Google Apps, and introduced a tool to migrate IBM Lotus users to Apps.

Even so, there is much work yet ahead for Google's enterprise team, and Microsoft is no longer content to watch the cloud from afar; Office Web, the company's answer to Google Apps, is coming this year.

Chandra and his Google Apps team have a lot to work on and some new competition to prepare for. "Putting Office on the Web is not that interesting from our perspective," he added. 


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