Posts Tagged ‘ Google Apps ’

Squeezing the Most Out of Gmail

If you have moved from server based email systems and are using Gmail, it is important to make sure you are making the most out of Gmail.

Use Priority Inbox to Save Time
Do you know how much time you spend checking your email? Likely a lot! Gmail’s Priority Inbox helps you prioritize your email by identifying the messages that require your immediate attention, saving you a lot of time. Using a variety of signals to predict which messages are important, Gmail discovers which people you email most and which messages you open and reply to. Once you turn on and manage Priority Inbox in your mail Settings, the service will continue to get better and better the more you use it.

Seamless Chat, Video and Calling
Gmail knows that you work with people in multiple ways, and makes it easy to choose the most effective means of communication, whether it may be email, chat, text messaging, video chats or phone calls—which are all available from your inbox. Voice and video chat, for example, lets you have an actual conversation with someone or meet face-to-face in high resolution. Google also added the ability to call phones in Gmail, making it possible to make phone calls from your computer to any landline or mobile phone number.

Become More Attached to Your Email
Attachments in other email systems take up space, can be difficult to find and often make you open up another program to take action—slowing you down. Gmail alleviates this cumbersome burden by letting you quickly view attachments without needing to open or download them on client-side software. Google’s Docs Viewer lets you view .doc, .pdf, .ppt and other attachments in a new browser tab by clicking the “view” link at the bottom of a Gmail message. And what if you want to edit the file? Simply click “edit online” to open it in Google Docs or download it to your desktop.

Gmail also features the Google Docs preview tab, which lets you read the entire contents of a Google document, spreadsheets or presentation right in Gmail. (Your administrator needs to have enables Labs for your to access them.)

Put Email in Context
With contextual gadgets, you can update a sales lead without even leaving your inbox. Contextual gadgets display information from social networks, business services, web applications and other systems—while allowing you to interact with that data right within Gmail. With just a few clicks via the Google Apps Marketplace, your administrator or any third-party developer can build and distribute Gmail contextual gadgets to the domain with a few easy clicks.

Productivity Keys
Google built in keyboard shortcuts to help you sort through your email quickly and efficiently. After enabling this feature in settings, you can archive (e), reply (r), compose (c), delete (#) or complete other actions with one key or a short combo. While in Gmail, you can print it out and post it at your desk as well.

Experiment in Google Labs
Gmail Labs gives you, the user, features to customize Gmail in whatever way you want. Some Labs accommodate references (like adding a “Send & Archive” button), while others help you communicate (like the Google Voice player and SMS in Chat) and help you stay organized (like the Google Docs and Calendar gadgets).

For more information regarding Google Apps, and its efficiencies, contact a Nubifer representative today.

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Zoho CRM, Invoice & Projects now Integrate with Gmail

Zoho announced today that Zoho CRM, Invoice & Projects now integrate with Gmail through Contextual Gadgets. Gmail Contextual Gadgets is a way for users to integrate third party applications into Gmail. When a user installs a contextual gadget in Gmail, the gadget shows up when that individual opens an email. The gadget can contain information pulled in from various third-party systems (eg: Zoho CRM, Invoice and Projects) and displayed contextually within that email.

Google announced this earlier this year, but Zoho unveiled today that they have created contextual gadgets for their CRM, Invoice & Projects applications.

Following are a few examples of tasks that can be accomplished leveraging Zoho’s Contextual Gadgets.

Zoho CRM

  • With a click of the mouse, users can search to see if the sender exists in your CRM system.
  • From within an email, users can add the sender to the Zoho CRM as a Contact or a Lead without having to leave their Gmail domain.
  • Users can add a Potential to a Contact, updating it from directly within the email message.
  • If the sender exists within the users CRM database, all details relating to the contact can be viewed within the email.
  • Users can Add/View Tasks and Notes to the sender within the email.

Zoho Invoice

  • If the sender exists within the system, their information is pulled from Zoho Invoice and displayed within the email message.
  • All emails sent from Zoho Invoice to the specified user are listed within the gadget, creating an Email History for each contact within the users’ database.
  • Users can view all unpaid invoices with the status as ‘Unpaid’ or ‘Open’ being displayed prominently for the sender.
  • Gadget users are now able to view payments received from the sender within the email.

Zoho Projects

  • Users can now create a new Project directly from the email, and share it with co-workers.
  • It’s now possible to transform an email into an actionable task in Zoho Projects and share it with the appropriate agent within your organization.
  • Users are now able to redirect the relevant contents of an email and make it an open forum post available for discussion.
  • Contextual Gadgets now make it simple to assign a task to any of your team members from within the email message.

If you would like more information regarding Zoho Projects Contextual Gadgets,visit Nubifer.com.

Zoho CRM, Invoice & Projects are already part of the Google Apps Marketplace, and are currently being leveraged by thousands of businesses using Google Apps.

Google Apps Receives Federal Certification for Cloud Computing

On July 26, Google released a version of its hosted suite of applications that meets the primary federal IT security certification, making a major leap forward in its push to drive cloud computing in the government. Nearly one year in the making, Google announces its new edition of Google Apps as the first portfolio of cloud applications to have received certification under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

The government version of Google Apps has the same pricing and services as the premier edition, including Gmail, the Docs productivity site and the Talk instant-messaging application.

Google Business Development Executive David Mihalchik said to reporters, “We see the FISMA certification in the federal government environment as really the green light for federal agencies to move forward with the adoption of cloud computing for Google Apps.”

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced a broad initiative to embrace the cloud across the federal government last September, as a way to reduce both costs and inefficiencies of redundant and underused IT deployments. The launch of that campaign was accompanied by the launch of Apps.gov. An online storefront for vendors to showcase their cloud-based services for federal IT manager, Apps.gov was revealed at an event at NASA’s Ames Research Center and attended by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. At the same time, Google announced plans to develop a version of its popular cloud-based services that  would meet the federal-government sector’s security requirements.

Mike Bradshaw, director of Google’s Federal Division, said, “We’re excited about this announcement and the benefits that cloud computing can bring to this market.” Bradshaw continued to say that “the President’s budget has identified the adoption of cloud computing in the federal government as a way to more efficiently use the billions of dollars spent on IT annually.” Bradshaw added that the government spends $45 million in electrical costs alone to run its data-centers and servers.

Security concerns are consistently cited by proponents of modernizing the deferral IT apparatus as the largest barrier to the adoption of cloud computing. Google is including extra security features to make federal IT buyers at agencies with more stringent security requirements feel more at ease. These extra security features are in addition to the 1,500 pages of documentation that came with Google’s FISMA certification.

Google will store government cloud accounts on dedicated servers within its data centers that will be segregated from its equipment that houses consumer and business data. Additionally, Google has committed to only use servers located in the continental U.S. for government cloud accounts. Google’s premier edition commercial customers have their data stored on servers in both the U.S. and European Union.

Mihalchik explained that security was the leading priority from the get-go in developing Google Apps for Government saying, “We set out to send a signal to government customers that the cloud is ready for government.” Adding, “today we’ve done that with the FISMA certification, and also going beyond FISMA to meet some of the other specific security requirements of government customers.”

Thus far, Google has won government customers at state and local levels such as in the cities of Los Angeles, California and Orlando, Florida. Mihalchik said that over one dozen federal agencies are in various stages of trialing or deploying elements of Google apps. Mihalchik states that several agencies are using Google anti-spam and anti-virus products to filter their email. Others, like the Department of Energy, are running pilot programs to evaluate the full suite of Google Apps in comparison with competitors’ offerings.

Find out more about cloud security and FISMA certification of Google Apps by talking to a Nubifer Consultant today.

Updated User Policy Management for Google Apps

Google has released a series of new features granting administrators more controls to manage Google Apps within their organizations, including new data migration tools, SSL enforcement capabilities, multi-domain support and the ability to tailor Google Apps with over 100 applications from the recently-introduced Google Apps Marketplace. On July 20 Google announced one of the most-requested features from administrators: User Policy Management.

With User Policy Management, administrators can segment their users into organizational units and control which applications are enabled or disabled for each group.  Take a manufacturing firm, for example. The company might want to give their office workers access to Google Talk, but not their production line employees, and this is possible with User Policy Management.

Additionally, organizations can use this functionality to test applications with pilot users before making them available on a larger scale. Associate Vice President for Computer Services at Temple University Sheri Stahler says, “Using the new User Policy Management feature in Google Apps, we’re able to test out new applications like Google Wave with a subset of users to decide how we should roll our new functionality more broadly.”

Customers can transition to Google Apps from on-premise environments with User Policy Management, as it grants them the ability to toggle services on or off for groups of users. A business can enable just the collaboration tools like Google Docs and Google sites for users who have yet to move off old on-premises messaging solutions, for example.

These settings can be managed by administrators on the ‘Organizations & Users’ tab in the ‘Next Generation’ control panel. On balance, organizations can mirror their existing LDAP organizational schema using Google Apps Directory Sync or programmatically assign users to organizational units using the Google Apps Provisioning API.

Premier and Educational edition users can begin using User Policy Management for Google Apps at no additional charge.

App Engine and VMware Plans Show Google’s Enterprise Focus

Google opened its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco on May 19 with the announcement of its new version of the Google App Engine, Google App Engine for Business. This was a strategic announcement, as it shows Google is focused on demonstrating its enterprise chops. Google also highlighted its partnership with VMware to bring enterprise Java developers to the cloud.

Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google said via a blog post: “… we’re announcing Google App Engine for Business, which offers new features that enable companies to build internal applications on the same reliable, scalable and secure infrastructure that we at Google use for our own apps. For greater cloud portability, we’re also teaming up with VMware to make it easier for companies to build rich web apps and deploy them to the cloud of their choice or on-premise. In just one click, users of the new versions of SpringSource Tool Suite and Google Web Toolkit can deploy their application to Google App Engine for Business, a VMware environment or other infrastructure, such as Amazon EC2.”

Enterprise organizations can build and maintain their own applications on the same scalable infrastructure that powers Google Applications with Google App Engine for Business. Additionally,  Google App Engine for Business has added management and support features that are tailored for each unique enterprise. New capabilities with this platform include: the ability to manage all the apps in an organization in one place; premium developer support; simply pricing based on users and applications; a 99.9 percent uptime service-level agreement (SLA); access to premium features such as cloud-based SQL and SSL (coming later this year).

Kevin Gibbs, technical lead and manager of the Google App Engine project said during the May 18 Google I/O keynote that “managing all the apps at your company” is a prevalent issue for enterprise Web developers. Google sought to address this concern through its Google App Engine hosting platform but discovered it needed to shore it up to support enterprises. Said Gibbs, “Google App Engine for Business is built from the ground up around solving the problems that enterprises face.”

Product management director for developer technology at Google Eric Tholome told eWEEK that Google App Engine for Business allows developers to use standards-based technology (like Java, the Eclipse IDE, Google Web Toolkit GWT and Python) to create applications that run on the platform. Google App Engine for Business also delivers dynamic scaling, flat-rate pricing and consistent availability to users.

Gibbs revealed that Google will be doling out the features in Google App Engine for Business throughout the rest of 2010, with Google’s May 19 announcement acting as a preview of the platform. The platform includes an Enterprise Administration Console, a company-based console which allows users to see, manage and set security policies for all applications in their domain. The company’s road map states that features like support, the SLA, billing, hosted SQL and custom domain SSL will come at a later date.

Gibbs said that pricing for Google App Engine for Business will be $8 per month per user for each application with the maximum being $1,000 per application per month.

Google also announced a series of technology collaboration with VMware. The goal of these is to deliver solutions that make enterprise software developers more efficient at building, deploying and managing applications within all types of cloud environments.

President and CEO of VMware Paul Maritz said, “Companies are actively looking to move toward cloud computing. They are certainly attracted by the economic advantages associated with cloud, but increasingly are focused on the business agility and innovation promised by cloud computing. VMware and Google are aligning to reassure our mutual important to both companies. We will work to ensure that modern applications can run smoothly within the firewalls of a company’s data center or out in the public cloud environment.”

Google is essentially trying to pick up speed in the enterprise, with Java developers using the popular Spring Framework (stemming from VMware’s SpringSource division). Recently, VMware did a similar partnership with Salesforce.com.

Maritz continued to say to the audience at Google I/O, “More than half of the new lines of Java code written are written in the context of Spring. We’re providing the back-end to add to what Google provides on the front end. We have integrated the Spring Framework with Google Web Toolkit to offer an end-to-end environment.”

Google and VMware are teaming up in multiple ways to make cloud applications more productive, portable and flexible. These collaborations will enable Java developers to build rich Web applications, use Google and VMware performance tools on cloud apps and subsequently deploy Spring Java applications on Google App Engine.

Google’s Gundotra explained, “Developers are looking for faster ways to build and run great Web applications, and businesses want platforms that are open and flexible. By working with VMware to bring cloud portability to the enterprise, we are making it easy for developers to deploy rich Java applications in the environments of their choice.”

Google’s support for Spring Java apps on Google App Engine are part of a shared vision to make building, running and managing applications for the cloud easier and in a way that renders the applications portable across clouds. Developers can build SpringSource Tool Suite using the Eclipse-based SpringSource and have the flexibility to choose to deploy their applications in their current private VMware vSphere environment, in VMware vCloud partner clouds or directly to Google App Engine.

Google and VMware are also collaborating to combine the speed of development of Spring Roo–a next-generation rapid application development tool–with the power of the Google Web Toolkit to create rich browser apps. These GWT-powered applications can create a compelling end-user experience on computers and smartphones by leveraging modern browser technologies like HTML5 and AJAX.

With the goal of enabling end-to-end performance visibility of cloud applications built using Spring and Google Web Toolkit, the companies are collaborating to more tightly integrate VMware’s Spring Insight performance tracing technology within the SpringSource tc Server application server with Google’s Speed Tracer technology.

Speaking about the Google/VMware partnership, vice president at Nucleus Research Rebecca Wettemann told eWEEK, “In short, this is a necessary step for Google to stay relevant in the enterprise cloud space. One concern we have heard from those who have been slow to adopt the cloud is being ‘trapped on a proprietary platform.’ This enables developers to use existing skills to build and deploy cloud apps and then take advantage of the economies of the cloud. Obviously, this is similar to Salesforce.com’s recent announcement about its partnership with VMware–we’ll be watching to see how enterprises adopt both. To date, Salesforce.com has been better at getting enterprise developers to develop business apps for its cloud platform.”

For his part, Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research, describes the Google/VMware more as “revolutionary” and the Salesforce.com/VMware partnership to create VMforce as “evolutionary.”

“Java developers now have a full Platform-as-a-Service [PaaS] place to go rather than have to provide that platform for themselves,” said Gillett of the new Google/VMware partnership. He added, however, “What’s interesting is that IBM, Oracle and SAP have not come out with their own Java cloud platforms. I think we’ll see VMware make another deal or two with other service providers. And we’ll see more enterprises application-focused offerings from Oracle, SAP and IBM.”

Google’s recent enterprise moves show that the company is set on gaining more of the enterprise market by enabling enterprise organizations to buy applications from others through the Google Apps Marketplace (and the recently announced Chrome Web Store), buy from Google with Google Apps for Business or build their own enterprise applications with Google App Engine for Business. Nubifer Inc. is leading Research and Consulting firm specializing in Cloud Computing and Software as a Service.

Apple iPad Tests the Limits of Google’s Chrome Running on Cloud Computing Devices

With the recent release of its iPad, Apple is poised to challenge Google in the current cloud computing crusade, say Gartner analysts. Apple’s iPad is expected to offer the most compelling mobile Internet experience to date, but later on in 2010 Google is predicted to introduce its own version for mobile Web consumption in the form of netbooks built on its Chrome Operating System.

If Apple’s tablet PC catches on like the company hopes it will, then it could serve as a foil for Google’s cloud computing fans. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has already proclaimed that holding the iPad is like “holding the Internet in your hand.” The 9.7-inch IPS screen on the device displays high-def video and other content, like e-mail, e-books and games to be consumed from the cloud.

Author Nicholas Carr, an avid follower of cloud happenings, explains the intentions of Apple in introducing the iPad by saying, “It wants to deliver the killer device to the cloud era, a machine that will define computing’s new age in the way that the Windows PC defined the old age. The iPad is, as Jobs said today, ‘something in the middle,’ a multipurpose gadget aimed at the sweet spot between the tiny smartphone and the traditional laptop. If it succeeds, we’ll all be using iPads to play iTunes, read iBooks, watch iShows, and engage in iChats. It will be an iWorld.”

An iWorld? Not if Google has its say! Later on in 2010 Google is expected to unveil its very own version of the Internet able to be held in users’ hands: netbooks based on Chrome. Companies like Acer and Asustek Computer are also building a range of Android-based tablets and netbooks, while Dell CEO Michael Dell was recently seen showcasing the Android-based Dell Mini 5 tablet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It sounds like Apple may have more competition that just Google!

The iPad will undoubtedly be a challenge to Google’s plans for cloud computing, which include making Google search and Google apps able to reach any device connected to the Web. According to Gartner analyst Rau Valdes, Apple and Google are bound to face off with similar machines. Said Valdes to eWeek, “You could look and say that iPad is being targeted to the broad market of casual users rather than, say, the road warrior who needs to run Outlook and Excel and the people who are going to surf the Net on the couch. One could say that a netbook based on Chrome OS would have an identical use case.”

Consumers will eventually have to choose between shelling out around $499 for an iPad (that is just a base price, mind you) or a similar fee (or possibly lower) for a Chrome netbook. Valdes thinks that there are two types of users: a parent figure consuming Internet content on a Chrome OS netbook and a teenager playing games purchased on Apple’s App Store on an iPad. Stay tuned to see what happens when Apple and Google collide with similar machines later on in 2010.

Microsoft and IBM Compete for Space in the Cloud as Google Apps Turns 3

Google may have been celebrating the third birthday of Google Apps Premier Edition on February 22, but Microsoft and IBM want a piece of the cake, errr cloud, too. EWeek.com reports that Google is trying to dislodge legacy on-premises installations from Microsoft and IBM while simultaneously fending off SaaS solutions from said companies. In addition, Google has to fend off offerings from Cisco Systems and startups like Zoho and MinTouch, to name a few. Despite the up-and-comers, Google, Microsoft and IBM are the main three companies competing for pre-eminence in the market for cloud collaborative software.

Three year ago, Google launched its Google Apps Premier Edition, marking a bold gamble on the future of collaborative software. Back then, and perhaps even still, the collaborative software market was controlled by Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft and IBM have over 650 million customers for their Microsoft ® Office, Sharepoint and IBM Lotus suite combined. These suits are licensed as “on-premises” software which customers install and maintain on their own servers.

When Google launched Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE), it served as a departure from this on-premises model by offering collaboration software hosted on Google’s servers and delivered via the Web. We now know this method as cloud computing.

Until the introduction of GAPE, Google Apps was available in a free standard edition (which included Gmail, Google Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software), but with GAPE Google meant to make a profit. For just $50 per user per year, companies could provide their knowledge workers with GAPE, which featured the aforementioned apps as well as additional storage, security and, most importantly, 24/7 support.

Google Apps now has over two million business customers–of all shapes and sizes–and is designed to appeal to both small companies desiring low-cost collaboration software but are lacking the resources to manage it and large enterprises desiring to eliminate the cost of managing collaboration applications on their own. At the time, Microsoft and IBM were not aggressively exploring this new cloud approach.

Fast-forward to 2009. Microsoft and IBM had released hosted collaboration solutions (Microsoft ® Business Productivity Office Suite and LotusLive respectively) to keep Google Apps from being lonely in the cloud.

On the third birthday of GAPE, Google has its work cut out for it. Google is trying to dislodge legacy on-premises installations from Microsoft and IBM while fending of SaaS solutions from Microsoft, IBM, Zoho, Mindtouch and the list goes on.

Dave Girouard, Google Enterprise President, states that while Google spent 2007 and 2008 debating the benefits of the cloud, the release of Microsoft and IBM products validated the market. EWeek.com quotes Girouard as saying, “We now have all major competitors in our industry in full agreement that the cloud is worth going to. We view this as a good thing. If you have all of the major vendors suggesting you look at the cloud, the consideration of our solutions is going to rise dramatically.”

For his part, Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft Online Services, thinks that there is room for everyone in the cloud because customer needs vary by perspective. Said Markezich to EWeek.com, “Customers are all in different situations. Whether a customer wants to go 100 percent to the cloud or if they want to go to the cloud in a measured approach in a period of years, we want to make sure we can bet on Microsoft to serve their needs. No one else has credible services that are adopted by some of the larger companies in the world.”

Microsoft’s counter to Google Apps is Microsoft’s ® Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). It includes Microsoft ® Exchange Online with Microsoft ® Exchange Hosted Filtering, Microsoft ® SharePoint Online, Microsoft ® Office Communications Online and Microsoft ® Office Living Meeting. Microsoft also offers the Business Productivity Online Deskless Worker Suite (which includes Exchange Online Deskless Worker for email, calendars and global address lists, antivirus and anti-spam filters) and Microsoft ® Outlook Web Access Light (for access to company email) for companies with either tighter budgets or those in need of lower cost email and collaboration software. Sharepoint Online Deskless Worker provides easy access to SharePoint portals, team sites and search functionality.

The standard version of BPOS costs $1 user per month or $120 per user per year while BPOS Deskless Worker Suite is $4 per user per month or $36 per user per year. Users may also license single apps as stand-alone services from $2 to $5 per user per month, which serves as a departure from Google’s one-price-for-the-year GAPE package.

The same code base is used by Microsoft for its BPOS package, on-premises versions of Exchange and SharePoint, thus making legacy customers’ transition into the cloud easier should they decide to migrate to BPOS. Microsoft thinks that this increases the likelihood that customers will remain with Microsoft rather than switching to Google Apps or IBM Lotus.

At Lotusphere 2008, IBM offered a hint at its cloud computing goals with Bluehouse, a SaaS extranet targeted toward small- to mid-size business. The product evolved as LotusLive Engage, a general business collaboration solution with social networking capabilities from IBM’s LotusLive Connections suite, at Lotusphere 2009. In the later half of 2009, the company sought to fill the void left open by the absence of email, by introducing the company’s hosted email solution LotusLive iNotes. iNotes costs $3 per user per month and $36 per user per year. Additionally, IBM offers LotusLive Connections, a hosted social networking solution, as well as the aforementioned LotusLive Engage.

Vice president of online collaboration for IBM Sean Pouelly told EWeek.com that IBM is banking on companies using email to adopt their social networking services saying, “It’s unusual that they just buy one of the services.” Currently over 18 million paid seats use hosted versions of IBM’s Lotus software.

IBM’s efforts in the cloud began to really get attention when the company scored Panasonic as a customer late last year. In its first year of implementing LotusLive iNotes, the consumer electronics maker plans on migrating over 100,000 users from Lotus Notes, Exchange and Panasonic’s proprietary email solution to LotusLive.

When it comes down to it, customers have different reasons for choosing Google, Microsoft or IBM. All three companies have major plans for 2010, and each company has a competitive edge. For more information regarding Cloud Computing please visit Nubifer.com.