Google March 9 opened its Google Apps Marketplace, an online store selling enterprises business applications that integrate with and extend Google Apps.
The Google Apps Marketplace will let Google Apps users access business apps for project management, billing and accounting, travel management, and other services. This will provide third-party software developers a larger cloud computing channel into which to sell their applications.
The move, announced during a Campfire One event at the company's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, is Google's most aggressive play to drive growth for Google Apps, a suite of SAAS (software as a service) collaboration applications. The play also threatens existing cloud application stores such as Salesforce.com's AppExchange.
Google Apps, which Google offers in free and paid versions, includes Gmail; Google Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications; and Google Sites publishing software.
Google Apps has picked up more than 2 million businesses and 25 million users who opt to let Google host their business data so they don't have to maintain on-premises solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint or IBM Lotus Notes on their own servers.
However, collaboration applications are only a part of the SAAS software ecosystem. As the success of Salesforce.com shows, there is a burgeoning market for enterprise applications based on the cloud.
To wit, the Google Apps Marketplace allows Google Apps administrators to purchase integrated third-party cloud applications and deploy them to their domains.
Google Engineering David Glazer, who shepherded Google's OpenSocial movement, said that while many businesses are switching their collaboration and communication options to Google's cloud, customers are looking to extend the cloud to enterprise applications.