Customers Want More from Google Apps

Google Apps Premier Edition is not even a year old, but the enterprise flavor of the company’s collaboration software suite is getting some rave reviews from customers along with a dash of constructive criticism.

More than 2,000 businesses a day are signing up for Google Apps. Customers who want the extra security and support can pay $50 per user per year for GAPE (Google Apps Premier Edition), which was launched last February.

GAPE includes typical collaboration tools, including a portal, e-mail, instant messaging and shared calendaring, among other tools.

Rick Rutherford, president and founder of booking and accounting outsourcer CPApartner, said his company began using GAPE, including the Start Page portal, Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Spreadsheets, a year ago to collaborate.

The 12-year-old company, which runs a tight ship of 25 employees, takes over accounting departments, collaborating on documents with Google Apps.

CPApartner employees also keep their 100 or so clients in the loop via GAPE’s shared calendaring tools. Those clients don’t have to sign up for GAPE to get this service, they need only sign up for a free account to access Calendar.

“I’m doing a spreadsheet right now and sharing it with somebody—we’re collaborating,” Rutherford told eWEEK during a phone briefing Dec. 18. “It works exceptionally well for the collaborative nature of our business.”

Ironically, CPApartner made the switch to Google from using productivity software from another, albeit much larger company—Microsoft.

Rutherford said he and his team were using Microsoft applications such as Outlook on servers that they had to maintain and manage. The whole process, Rutherford said, was “nowhere near as easy and efficient.”

How much is Rutherford’s company saving by using GAPE? He said it’s hard to quantify, but estimated that the Microsoft products the hardware they ran on had cost thousands of dollars per user per year to run, license and maintain.

Of course, no application is perfect and Rutherford said there is one key ingredient missing from GAPE that he would love to see added in 2008: a task management application to support his workflow.

Shawn Faulkingham, IT director for commercial office product distributor Indoff, moved almost 500 staffers over to GAPE last February when Google launched the package.

Next page: Customers: Google Apps Good But Can Get Better

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