Google Apps Platform Users Cite Data Security as Biggest Concern

One-quarter of survey respondents in organizations with more than 200 workers listed security and privacy as their primary concerns.

Cost is not the most important factor in the decision to adopt Google Apps, Google€™s cloud messaging and collaboration platform, according to a survey of Google Apps administrators in small and midsize businesses. While price was a consideration, survey respondents said the ability to collaborate effectively mattered more.

The survey, executed by Focus Research, was sponsored by the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps, an independent network of cloud software developers building applications to support Google Apps users. Fifty thousand Google Apps domains worldwide were contacted in February and March, and more than 2,000 Google Apps administrators completed the survey. Nearly one-third of the respondents work for organizations in the IT or Internet industries.

€œIt is not surprising that many respondents emphasized the value of Google Apps€™ collaboration capabilities. This supports the premise held by many in the IT community that Google Apps is a feature-rich platform suitable for organizations of all sizes,€ the report said. €œHowever, the survey results do raise questions about the importance of cost in the decision to implement a cloud-based messaging and collaboration platform. For example, if cost isn€™t the biggest concern, what issues are important to IT administrators as they evaluate systems like Google Apps?€

Per the survey results, data security and end-user privacy were paramount. One-quarter of survey respondents in organizations with more than 200 workers listed security and privacy as their primary concerns. These issues were followed by system availability, reliability and service-level agreements (SLAs), which were cited by 17.5 percent of Google Apps administrators. Third on the list was interoperability with existing software, as mentioned by 15 percent of responding IT professionals.

However, IT pros at organizations with fewer than 200 employees had a different perspective. In these businesses, the top response to the question, what was your biggest concern prior to implementing Google Apps? was: "I did not have any concerns." This was followed by security/privacy risks, performance, and availability, reliability and SLAs.

€œAt $50 per user per year, it€™s no wonder that cost isn€™t a major issue for organizations considering Google Apps,€ said David Politis, chairman of the Cloud Alliance and CEO of BetterCloud. €œWhat€™s interesting is that security, availability and performance continue to be a significant concern. Google and its partners are well-known for providing the industry€™s most secure and reliable cloud services, and most small and midsize businesses use at least some cloud-based systems. I think these issues will become less of a concern as Google continues to win more big-name enterprise clients in highly regulated industries.€

Politis said key to the success of Google Apps thus far has been the Google Apps Marketplace, an online store for purchasing software applications that are complementary to Google Apps. The Marketplace has been a hit with Google Apps users, who can easily access hundreds of reasonably priced management, security, storage and productivity tools.

Nearly six apps per domain were downloaded from the Marketplace by Google Apps administrators responding to the Cloud Alliance survey. And yet, only about three apps per domain are used regularly. The reason for the drop-off may have something to do with integration. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of survey respondents said that deeper integration between third-party applications and Google Apps would make their Google Apps experience better.

€œIt€™s encouraging that so many Google Apps users recognize the value of deep integration of third-party applications, since a primary benefit of Google Apps is the ability to collaborate across a wide range of business processes and activities,€ said Politis. €œWe hope more vendors follow the lead of Cloud Alliance members by strengthening hooks to Google Apps.€