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.
Google Gets 20% Cut of Google Apps Marketplace
“We love this growth, but as [the cloud] grows, we’re hearing from customers: ‘We like what you’re doing, but what about the rest of my business? I’m starting to see other vendors who are offering me other cloud solutions, but if I try to picture deploying expense reporting and human resources and meeting management, I start to worry about how I’m going to get a handle on this. How am I going to manage running my entire business in the cloud?'” Glazer told eWEEK in a briefing before the Campfire One event.
The Google Apps Marketplace will also challenge Salesforce.com, which has spent the last decade-plus fomenting its Force.com and AppExchange platforms. Force.com lets external developers create add-ons that integrate into the main Salesforce application and are hosted on Salesforce.com’s cloud computing infrastructure.
AppExchange is a directory of applications built for Salesforce by third-party developers, which users can purchase and add to their Salesforce.com system. In fact, Salesforce.com AppExchange and Google Apps Marketplace share some of the same partners, such as Appirio.
Other participants in the Google Apps Marketplace include Intuit, whose Intuit Online Payroll is a small business application that lets business owners run payroll, pay taxes and let employees check pay stubs. JIRA Studio a hosted software development suite from Atlassian Software that lets developers move between Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and other design and development tools to manage projects.
Once installed to a company’s domain, third-party apps work like native Google applications. The Marketplace leverages OpenID to let users log on via single sign-on and open the apps from within Google Apps. Administrators may grant users the ability to let apps in the Marketplace integrate with Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs and other Google Apps data.
The Google Apps Marketplace also handles any software updates made to third-party apps, so users have one less detail with which to concerns themselves.
Google Apps Marketplace Product Manager Chris Vander Mey told eWEEK that after charging a $100 admission fee to enter the market, Google will take a 20 percent cut of application sales, recurring on subscriptions. This covers the purchase and install process, as well as integration features exclusive to installable apps.
Until this service is available, developers must bill on their own schedule and terms via billing APIs. Google will offer to handle billing via Google Checkout, with developers setting prices and duration, later in 2010.