By Joel Hruska | Published: February 07, 2008 – 01:19PM CT
Current business versions of Google Apps are linked to an organization’s Internet domain and therefore require IT approval and at least some degree of administration. Team Edition eschews this approach, and allows end-users to create sharing workgroups so long as the individuals in question have valid e-mail addresses within the employer’s Internet domain. Team Edition contains the standard core features of Google Apps, save for Gmail, as that service requires a degree of IT oversight and administration.
According to Google Apps senior product manager Rajen Sheth, “Google Apps has been, by definition, an IT project, and now we want to let people use it without IT involvement.” Signing up for Google Apps Team Edition will allow registrants to see which of their coworkers has also signed up, which, in theory, promotes additional collaboration. Google emphasizes that this type of two-way visibility will allow workgroups to begin collaborating with each other—apparently spontaneously.
There is, of course, a rather obvious fly in this particular ointment. Sheth suggests that IT departments and administrators shouldn’t be upset about discovering unplanned and unapproved implementations of Google Apps running on the corporate network because “[t]he IT department always has the option to sign up for the Standard Edition for free if they want to provide control over this. This is a solid, happy medium.”
One problem with that: IT administrators tend to fervently dislike the sudden appearance of unapproved applications, even if said software package promises world peace, actually delivers all those free iPods, and periodically spits gold doubloons out of the CD-ROM drive.
Google’s approach seems predicated on the old adage that it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission. One the one hand, Google Apps Team Edition could help facilitate group-level communication on projects, but the program could also engender a significant backlash from IT managers who aren’t at all thrilled at its sudden appearance. This is particularly true of companies with strict(er) IT policies, or companies already in the middle of deploying an alternative work collaboration system.
Google claims that the purpose of Team Edition is to allow users to “share documents and calendars securely without burdening IT for support,” are more likely to be greeted by raised eyebrows from the IT department. In the right (or wrong) circumstances, the unapproved presence and use of Google Apps Team Edition could, in fact, increase the burden on IT support staff. Google seems to be betting that if it can build enough grassroots support for Google Apps, IT departments and corporations will have no choice but to embrace it as a provider. Such an approach may work beautifully in the consumer market, but there’s no guarantee corporations will be as flexible.
- Google PR: Team up with Google Apps