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Google Apps: Right For The Small Business Buck? (And Does Google Even Want Your Bucks?)

Some new Google Apps security measures go a ways toward increasing the platform's safety for business use. But which businesses? Google stance is increasingly aiming the top end Apps package at the enterprise customers it most clearly covets. Where does that leave the small and midsized business?
Some new Google Apps security measures go a ways toward increasing the platform's safety for business use. But which businesses? Google stance is increasingly aiming the top end Apps package at the enterprise customers it most clearly covets. Where does that leave the small and midsized business?The addition of stronger administrative password management tools, as well as SSL options is being touted by Google as further indication that the company is moving its productivity platforms toward business primetime.

Problem is, for small and midsized businesses, Google's Apps emphasis is on enterprise clients, whose revenue stream is larger; hence Google's addition of Google Apps resellers to the Apps approach to market.

While Google's own materials push Apps' Premier Edition as appropriate for "businesses of all sizes," look a little closer at some of the security features and you'll get a good sense of the size of business Big G is after.

Message Encryption, for instance, offered as part of the messaging tools and services Google got when it acquired Postini, is available only with a minimum 100 user order. Don't know how many seats you have at your business, and there are plenty of small and midsized companies that do have 100 or more e-mail encryption-needing employees.

But there are plenty that don't , too, and Google is clearly leaving them out of the market share they're pursuing.

Google Apps Standard Edition -- the free one -- lacks the security features Premier Edition carries, and caps the number of users per business at 50. So if you've got between 50 and 100 employees, you're out of the Google Apps loop. (Existing Apps customers with more than 50 users are evidently grandfathered in.)

Which is fine -- Google's a business and they can go after whatever size customer they choose; and their $50 per user per year price for Premier is definitely competitive; they've been equally aggressive with the Postini services pricing.

Just bear in mind, if you're not a 100 seat or higher company, that there are some security features you're just not going to get.

And if you're planning on running Standard Edition in your business, better count heads first, and decide which 50 of your employees get to use Google Apps, and which beyond 50 don't.

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Editors' Choice
Kirsten Powell, Senior Manager for Security & Risk Management at Adobe
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5