Google Apps Gets an Enterprise Cloud Assist
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Even mighty Microsoft didn't become a leading enterprise software provider by itself; it had a lot of help from third-party developers and partners to build its software solutions into what they are.
Now Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), a relatively new player in the enterprise space, is starting to attract the same kind of third-party support it will need to win over a bigger slice of the enterprise application pie.
Its newest ally is LTech, which specializes in cloud computing solutions and is an authorized Google partner. Today LTech released its Single Sign-On for Google Apps, which includes support for ActiveDirectory and LDAP to help better ensure the continuity of end-user accounts.
A second release was an update to its Power Panel for Google Apps, which gives IT managers more control over password changes and integration to CRM systems like Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM). The first version of Power Panel came out in September and already has over 30,000 users that tie it to the Google Apps Premier suite.
LTech's Single Sign-On for Google Apps can be deployed on-premises within the corporate firewall or on LTech's hosted platform. The company said end-users can use their existing credentials to access Google Apps from a browser, mobile device or third-party mail clients like GMail, the iPhone or Microsoft Outlook. For IT administrators, this feature reduces the hassle of updating multiple passwords for end-users and allows them to enforce password strength and change management policies.
Single Sign-On is priced at $5 per user, per year with discounts for educational institutions as well as volume discounts.
Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Ted Schadler said companies like LTech stand to help Google's enterprise ambitions.
"Authentication and being able to manage and shut off accounts quickly and securely may not be the first things a business buyer is going to ask, but you can be sure the security person is going to, it'll be on their checklist," Schadler told InternetNews.com. "Google needs to have a portfolio of supporting partners and LTech is the first one I've seen with this much stuff."
Ed Laczynski, founder and CTO of LTech, said Power Panel is deployed via the Google AppEngine and secured within a customer's domain. All of its features and functions are hosted directly in Google's cloud.
A Contact Journal feature gives users a 360-degree view of their contacts and relationships inside and outside the organization. Using Contact Journal from within the Gmail client, you can check appointment information, shared documents, group memberships, common contacts and social network profiles. LTech said Contact Journal also functions as an integration point for CRM data from vendors like Salesforce.
"Because this is all hosted on Google's AppEngine, you don't have to distribute patches via CD or other manual method," said Laczynski. "And the Contact Journal looks like an Outlook form in Gmail, so you don't have end users asking, 'Where's my Outlook?' It's something more familiar to them."
Laczynski said an "offboarding" feature helps IT with lifecycle management when employees leave or a company has temporary workers, partners or others who leave the company.
"You don't necessarily want to just delete everything, but you may want to scramble access to the account so people no longer with the company can't get to it and that's what we let you do," he said.
LTech Power Panel for Google Apps is available immediately and priced starting at $3 per user, per year.
While LTech has focused on tools for better IT management, Laczynski said it may do more direct end user's tools in the future if there are areas they can add value and IT doesn't need control.
Analyst Schadler said LTech is an example of a new generation of integrator that are cloud or Software as a Service-oriented. "The best example today is the hundreds of partners doing add-ons for Salesforce, and now we're seeing others. There is going to be big competition and disruptive opportunities for channel partners."