Google Apps administrators will now be able to give their users managed access to about 60 Google applications, tools and services that aren't part of the core components of the hosted communications and collaboration suite.
The newly available applications include consumer-market favorites like Blogger, Picasa, Voice, Maps and Reader; webmaster tools like Analytics; advertiser programs like AdWords; online payment service Checkout and application development platform App Engine.
It's smart of Google to leverage its consumer applications portfolio for business benefits, said Gartner analyst Matthew Cain.
"It highlights the convergence of business and consumer services, and creates a competitive advantage over enterprise-only vendors," he said via e-mail.
In addition, the move highlights the ability of cloud-only vendors to innovate quickly. "The key to the announcement, however, is the ability of company administrators to control access to these new services," Cain said.
Apps administrators will have control over which applications they activate for their users, including the ability to turn on some applications for certain users and a different group for other users, depending on the type of work they do.
As with core Apps components, applications added to a domain will be accessible to users once they log into the suite, so that they don't have to call them up individually. Likewise, the added applications will use their domain's common list of user contacts.
However, these extra applications aren't covered by the 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement that covers the core Apps in the suite and Google will not provide phone support for them.
The ability to add these applications will exist in the Standard, Education and Premier editions of Apps.
With this move, Google, which announced in May its intention to do this, further extends the functionality of Apps, which for a time was criticized for being relatively narrow in scope.
A major first step in remedying that situation was Google's launch in March of the Apps Marketplace, where third-party vendors can sell complementary applications that are also pre-integrated at a technology level with Apps, including single sign-on and other links.
Google is also announcing a re-branding of the suite's editions. The Standard edition will now be called simply Apps, while the Premier and Education editions will be called, respectively, Apps for Business and Apps for Education.
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