|Google Apps Premier Edition a Mixed Bag|
By Cameron Sturdevant
June 11, 2007
Review: Google Apps Premier Edition is a hosted collaboration and productivity application platform that combines a customizable start page with chat, e-mail, calendaring, word processing, a spreadsheet and a simple Web page builder into a package that Google sells for $50 per user per year.
While the components worked well for us overall in our tests, we found that Google has yet to iron out all the wrinkles in its suite. For example, we had problems creating an event on the calendar from information contained in a Google Mail message.
Small and midsize companies that lack IT staff but need collaborative tools that allow shared calendaring, documents and spreadsheets, along with e-mail and chat, should put Google Apps on their evaluation shortlist.
Aside from the compelling price compared to other on-demand collaborative suites, Google Apps Mail component comes with 10GB of storage and is equipped with Google's ubiquitous search capabilities. Even these features, however, must be examined with a critical eye by business managers who want to use the suite for online collaboration.
For example, search is currently confined to individual modules and does not go across all the information that is accessible to the user. During our tests, this meant that we had to conduct separate searches in the suite's Mail and Docs and Sheets (word processor and spreadsheet) modules, rather than find what we sought in a single search. Google officials said there are no announced plans to unify search.
In order to take advantage of the optional partner-provided add-ons that are available for use with Google Apps, businesses will need some dedicated IT staff or consultant help. For instance, there's a SSO (Single Sign-On) component offered by Sxip Identity, which allowed us to integrate our Google Apps user authentication data with Microsoft's Active Directory.
eWEEK.com Special Report: Google's Global Reach
Other add-ons that enable Google Apps to integrate with existing infrastructure include CompanionLink for Google Calendar, which allows users to synchronize appointments with PDAs and smart phones running Palm, Windows Mobile, PocketPC and BlackBerry operating systems. These add-on products generally cost about $30 per user per year each and can quickly boost the cost of Google Apps beyond what Google charges for the base product.