Let’s take a look at Google’s two enterprise ecosystems: Google Apps and Chrome.
Google Apps ecosystem
Google Apps is Google’s most
established enterprise-friendly ecosystem.
Gmail, Calendar, and Drive meet
core email, scheduling, and document collaboration needs. Hangouts enables
messaging and meetings. All of these work reliably in a web browser and on Android and iOS devices.
If Google Apps administrators
allow, additional apps may be added. An administrator adds a third-party app from the Google Apps
Marketplace to make an app available to all users. (People access these apps
after authenticating with their Google Apps account: no additional username or
password is needed.) Alternatively, an end user may choose an add-on to Google
Docs and Sheets to accomplish a specific task (such as a printing labels).
Google Apps also enables legal
compliance. Google Vault helps companies meet email retention requirements. And
Google will sign a business associates agreement with organizations that must
meet HIPAA requirements and want to use Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and/or Vault.
Google also has a second ecosystem,
built around Chrome.
The Chrome browser, Chrome OS, and
Chrome devices comprise the Chrome ecosystem.
Chrome offers enterprises a fast
and secure browser. Chrome OS supports connections to virtual private networks
(VPNs) that encrypt traffic between the Chromebook and the VPN server, which
may be an enterprise server or a third-party VPN service. Chrome works reliably on Mac, Windows, and
Linux systems, plus on Android and iOS devices.
Chromebooks simplify laptop
maintenance for organizations when used with Google Apps. The ecosystems are
complementary. Login to a Chromebook with your Google Apps account to access
your applications and data, then logout. Hand the Chromebook to someone else,
and when they login, they’ll see all of their apps and data. (Login to Chrome,
and you can sync settings among work and home systems running Chrome, as well.)
Chrome supports “Chrome packaged
apps,” which are modified web apps. These apps can also sync across systems,
along with your settings. Packaged apps work offline — despite advertising
that implies otherwise by a competitor.
Chrome eases the transition to the web
Enterprises built in an earlier era
often rely on legacy network architecture, infrastructure, and applications.
Moving these legacy systems to the cloud may not be economically feasible.
Chrome can help ease an enterprise’s transition to the cloud.
With Chrome and VMware, there’s no
need to maintain legacy installed software on individual systems: instead,
virtualize it and replace high-maintenance laptops with Chromebooks.
Complementary Google Apps + Chrome ecosystems
Google’s Chromebox for Meetings
($999) provides a system for video conferencing built on a customized configuration
of Chrome and Hangouts. This is an affordable,
easy-to-use video conferencing alternative that’s clearly aimed at the small business
and organizational market.
Google’s inexpensive Chromecast
($35) plugs into an HDMI port on a television or display. Thanks to a Chrome
extension, you can “tab cast” or send the contents (audio and video) of a Chrome
browser tab to the TV. It’s an inexpensive way to present Google Slides in a
The two devices — Chromebox for
Meetings and Chromecast — leverage both ecosystems.
With Chrome and Google Apps, Google
is building at least two cloud-scale enterprise ecosystems. Google Apps
provides the core set of applications, while Chrome offers a platform that
eases the transition from old to new architectures.
I find the combination of the two
ecosystems interesting to watch.
I’m also intrigued about the future
of Google+ and Android in the enterprise. Where do you think Google+ and
Android fit? Will either evolve to become core components of Google’s
enterprise offerings? Or are they already? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.