Cloud Sherpas, which resells and supports Google Apps Premier Edition for medium to large enterprises, on May 11 announced that it will release a set of premium access management features for its SherpaTools application for Google Apps administrators.
Cloud Sherpas in March released SherpaTools, which includes free software modules that make GAPE easier to manage for administrators and end users.
The suite includes a Directory Manager, which provides a simple interface for adding essential User Profile and Shared Contacts information, and DirectoryBot, an automated Google Talk instant messaging application.
More than 3,500 IT users at 2,100 businesses serving 300,000 end users have signed up to use SherpaTools, according to Cloud Sherpas.
Michael Cohn, founder and vice president of marketing and product management, said the software's uptake was buoyed by its launch in the Google Apps Marketplace in March. This uptake, blossoming in Asia-Pacific and Europe, proves the product is viable among the Google Apps admins looking for IT management help, he said.
To that end, Cloud Sherpas will continue to offer a free version for all Google Apps domains, but Cohn said his team will offer a paid version that includes additional security and management utilities.
One new feature will allow Google Apps admins to delegate access to help desk workers without providing a master user name and password credentials. For example, a help desk worker can use a dedicated pin number to reset an end user's password without also having access to most employee data.
"Currently, it requires administrator access to do simple things like rename user names and change passwords," Cohn said. "Our customers are telling us they want to be able to delegate that to their help desk without their help desk necessarily having the keys to the entire kingdom, or the root password to the entire Google Apps system."
Another feature will enable IT admins to reassign document ownership, a tool designed to protect and preserve data assets of terminated employees without making the company more vulnerable to data loss or theft.
Typically, an employee's spreadsheets, presentations and e-mails are deleted once he or she is removed from the system in Google Apps. Admins get around the data loss issue by suspending a user from the system. The admin then goes into the employee's account and manually removes or archives the data files.
This is time-consuming and risky, leaving companies in danger of data loss. The pending premium feature will let IT admins automatically delegate all of a terminated employee's files to his or her manager or another user in the system.
Finally, Cohn said SherpaTools will feature a browsable end-user directory designed to augment Google's Contacts application, helping admins find employees in a corporate directory. This feature will be free, though the company will offer a paid add-on to let admins link multiple domains.
Cohn said he hasn't yet worked out a pricing model for the premium features in SherpaTools, which will be demonstrated at Google I/O, held May 19 to 20.
However, he promised that companies that buy Google Apps licenses from Cloud Sherpas instead of Google will receive the premium features at no cost.