Google has added a video sharing component to its Apps Premier suite of hosted communication and collaboration software, betting that companies will find it useful for a variety of workplace uses.
The Google Video service is due to debut in Apps Premier on Tuesday, allowing end-users to upload clips and share them with co-workers using an interface very similar to Google's YouTube, the most popular video sharing service in the consumer market.
Apps Premier is the fee-based version of the suite, which also has free editions like Standard and Education. Google is adding the video application without raising the price of Apps Premier, which costs $50 (£28) per user per year.
As online video has gone mainstream among consumers, Google believes that organisations of all sizes will benefit from extending their communication with employees via clips for purposes like training, company announcements and broadcasting company events.
Matthew Glotzbach, product management director of Google Enterprise, said Apps Premier's video application will change how people collaborate at work. Like the rest of Apps Premier, it is designed to be simple enough for all employees to use it.
Each clip can be up to 300MB in size, and Apps Premier subscribers get 3GB of video storage per user account. Administrators will have a variety of controls over the service, such as being able to edit or remove clips, generate usage reports and create tag taxonomies.
Google is confident that the video application will give Apps Premier a significant differentiator in the market, since the cost of implementing and running a video-upload and -sharing system puts it beyond the means of most businesses.
The Apps Premier video service will run off the same infrastructure as YouTube and use that service's technology for flagging copyright and inappropriate content, Glotzbach said.
The Apps suite also includes Gmail; Talk; Calendar; Sites; the Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentations software; and other applications.
With Apps, Google is championing the popular software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, in which vendors host applications in their data centres and deliver them via the Internet. The SaaS approach is seen by its backers as the future of software, which has traditionally been installed by customers on their own facilities and hardware.
Delivering applications from the Internet "cloud" reduces the effort and cost customers have to invest in installing and maintaining software. In addition, these web-hosted applications are designed to promote and simplify how co-workers share and collaborate, since documents reside on a central server and not on individual PCs.
However, concerns exist about the security of hosting software and data in a vendor data centre and the loss of control over application performance and availability when vendor servers crash. Another issue with hosted applications is accessing them without an Internet connection, something Google is addressing with its Gears browser plug-in.
Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann said the video service is "a potentially very powerful business tool, particularly from the training perspective."
It will be in Google's best interest to evangelise among Apps Premier administrators the various scenarios and uses in which creating and uploading a video can be useful, Wettemann said.
"There are many cases in the business environment where, if I could shoot a quick little video to show people something, I could get my point across much more effectively than with email or a phone conversation," she said.