Google Apps highlights midmarket business benefits

Hesitant about cloud computing, despite the benefits? Learn how Google addresses cloud computing concerns and points out the midmarket positives.

Hi. I'm Kristen Caretta, associate editor for SearchCIO-Midmarket.com. I'm here today with Matthew Glotzbach, the product management director for Google Enterprise. Matthew will be speaking to us a little bit about how midmarket companies can benefit from the use of cloud computing and Google applications.

Hi Matthew, thank you for joining us today.

:21: Could you explain a little bit about what you do?
Matthew Glotzbach: Sure. Enterprise is a division within Google that focuses on bringing Google's technologies into the business segment.

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Google guru talks future of apps

Enterprise is a bit of a misnomer because we serve the small-medium business, we serve the large enterprise, public sector, education, etc. We focus on three main product areas: The search business, obviously, is where we got our start with our search appliance product line and our hosted site search product. We have geospatial products, with Google Earth and Google Maps for business use, and then we also have a whole host of cloud computing offerings known as Google Apps, for bringing messaging and collaboration as well as security and compliance into the business world.

I'm responsible for the product management organization within Enterprise, so I'm looking at both what we're doing inside of Google from a technology standpoint: where the products need to go, what the future roadmap and direction looks like. As well as interacting a lot with the external market -- customers, analysts, etc., in terms of understanding their view on the market and what they need to be successful.

1:32: Do you find companies voice concerns over the use of cloud computing and security issues surrounding it, and what steps is Google taking to appease these fears?
I think with any new technology paradigm or technology shift, there are obviously some concerns or some hesitation, and it's well founded. If you think back to 20, 30 years ago when the PC was first introduced in the business, you had a lot of the same reactions, of anywhere from why in the world would we need a computer on a desktop to, well, is the data really secure now that it's on this PC instead of in my central mainframe system. And so a lot of the similar concerns or hesitations exist, especially around data security. There's an emotional reaction, I think, to when the servers are no longer able to be touched by your IT department, there's a feeling of loss of control.

Now, in reality, you know what I think most CIOs would admit to you, and many have to me, that they actually believe that Google's data security, data protection, data privacy are probably significantly better than what they can provide themselves. But I think there is an emotional reaction to that somewhat distance of and potential feeling of loss of control. We continue to do a number of things to try to alleviate those concerns. We recently achieved our SAS 70 Type II certification, which is an industry certification certifying the way we manage our processes and our operations, which is something that a lot of businesses look for. We provide a lot of transparency to our customers in terms of how the data's managed, who has access to it, etc. But I think at the end of the day, it's really about trust and vendors like Google and others providing cloud computing services will need to continue to win over the trust of companies and users.

3:38: Are innovations like cloud computing and Google applications the next wave of tools that you expect midmarket companies to use?
I do. You know, I think one of the challenges that the midmarket company faces is the users have all of the expectations of those users of a large corporation. So if you're an employee working at a 500-person, 1,000-person or even a 100-person company, you have expectations around the types of services that are going to be provided to you. Whether that be benefits or reliable wages or IT technology, and so I really empathize with the midmarket CIO because they have user expectations to fulfill that are similar to those of very large corporations, but they have extremely limited budgets, unlike the Fortune 500 or Global 1,000, who can go do a pilot IT project that may cost a few million dollars.

The midmarket CIO's total annual budget may be a few million dollars, so I think cloud computing really has a place for the midmarket CIO. It allows them to provide even better technology to their end users than they're providing today to meet those user expectations but do it at a fraction of the cost.

You know, more broadly, I think cloud computing is the next sort of generation of computing. Much like I referenced earlier the mainframe going to a PC, I think the PC sort of moving to the cloud is very much the next kind of big, transformative step in computing, and we're already seeing it today. It's no longer a question of if, it's a question of when, and I think the when is right now. Companies are actively moving to the cloud. We see on the order of 3,000 businesses every day signing up for Google Apps. Most of those, of course, are small and medium businesses, but we're seeing a lot more traction in, sort of, the medium and larger-size business as well, so it is something that is happening because people see the value both from a cost standpoint as well as from a new functionality, a new capability standpoint.

5:54.6: Are companies voicing any concerns about Gmail and Gchat as applications that allow employees to waste time at work, or are they being viewed as more of a way to help employees connect in the workplace?
No, that's an excellent question. I think one of the fears historically within IT departments has been as these consumer technologies kind of bleed into the enterprise, are they just time wasters, are they things that are going to distract users from whatever their actual job is? And what I can speak both from personal account as well as from talking to a lot of companies, you know, you take the example of instant messaging: It's really become a mainstay of communication in business.

As companies go from being centralized, where everybody comes into the same kind of central office building, there's hallway interactions, etc., now companies are global. Even midmarket companies of a few hundred users may be virtual in nature or those users are spread out across different geographies, and so you miss some of that richness of interaction of, you know, seeing each other in the hallway or at the lunchroom.

And things like instant messaging take the conversation, which would have normally been over email, and make it a little more personal so it's real time. So I really see those types of technologies not as distracters from real work but actually ways to facilitate and collaborate and drive work even faster. To create those connections between, as you said, between people within a company as well as between companies, and really drive the velocity of business.

One other note on that: We just released a new capability in Google Apps a few weeks back, video. Where you can actually upload and share videos securely within your company. Much like YouTube but for inside the business, where you can securely share it with an individual, a group or the whole company. We found the same thing to be true where people can communicate richly over video because it's easy to create a video -- there's cameras everywhere, easy and low cost to do that -- and then they can share that information so effortlessly, much like people share information via video online on YouTube. So it's another example of maybe a nontraditional technology finding a really successful and exciting use inside the business environment.

Thank you very much, Matthew, for sitting down and answering some of these questions. For more videos like this, please check back often to our video landing page at SearchCIO-Midmarket.com.

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