When Cloud Sherpas released its SherpaTools platform to beta last month, it became the latest product from a growing line of companies looking to not only resell Google Apps but grease the wheels for companies trying to implement the Web-based collaboration software.
Cloud Sherpas resells Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE), which Google offers for $50 per user per year to companies that need to migrate hundreds or thousands of employees from IBM Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange to GAPE.
This means Cloud Sherpas, made up of former Lotus and Exchange experts who saw Google as the future of cloud-based collaboration, must play the part of reseller, systems integrator and application developer, Cloud Sherpas CEO Mike Cohn told eWEEK.
“One half of our business is providing our customers expert advice on what they need to do when they move to the cloud,” Cohn said. “Second, with all of the deep enterprise engagements we’re involved in, we saw a lot of opportunities to fill gaps with software. In the new world of the cloud, it’s pretty obvious to us there is no need for a distributor. The distributor, systems integrator and reseller come together.”
SherpaTools, which is currently free, comprises software modules that make GAPE easier 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 IM for end users.
Cohn said SherpaTools will eventually include a compliance and reporting module as well as a data backup and restore tool.
Cloud Sherpas helped Lincoln Property migrate to Google Apps from Novell GroupWise mail and contacts data for 950 users. The company also implemented SherpaTools, to offer additional IT management functions for admins and new features for employees.
Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler said the idea of the be-all-you-can-be reseller is a very important topic.
“In a cloud world, ISVs, integrators and VARs, etc., have to do more than install boxes and software,” Schadler told eWEEK. “They have to augment and extend. The entire channel has to up its game with applications and do things that customers will pay for. If you look at the MSFT Business Productivity Online Suite [BPOS], it’s transferring wealth to customers and to Microsoft and away from Exchange reseller.”
LTech Rivals Cloud Sherpas in Reselling
Like Cloud Sherpas, LTech is another one of those integrators/resellers/apps developers that have come to be everything to every customer trying to move their collaboration utilities to the cloud.
LTech offers Power Panel for Google Apps, which essentially does for Google Apps admins and end users what SherpaTools does, albeit on Google’s App Engine and with more functionality.
Power Panel, which costs $3 per user per month, is used by hundreds of companies, spanning hundreds of thousands of end users, LTech founder and CEO Ed Laczynski told eWEEK.
Power Panel boasts a contact journal tool to give users a 360-degree view of their contacts and relationships; QuickLinks, a gadget that lets executives, managers and IT distribute links to applications, forms and documents to end users within Gmail; and shared contact search, among other tools.
LTech also offers Single Sign-On for Google Apps, a Web application that allows organizations to authenticate users into Google Apps using their LDAP-based directory service. Single Sign-On for Google Apps starts at $5 per user on-premises or as SAAS.
Laczynski said LTech’s marquee migration was Wild Blue, an Internet service provider whose 400,000 employees LTech shuttled over to Google Apps.
LTech also builds custom workflow apps for companies as well as synchronization tools between legacy systems, recalling the reseller/systems integrator/apps developer role Cloud Sherpas’ Cohn discussed.
The bottom line is that if you’re a business looking to move to Google Apps but don’t know where to begin, companies such as Cloud Sherpas, LTech and Salesforce.com, which also helps move customers to Salesforce.com, can help.