Google aims for corporate IT

The first thought that comes to mind when one hears the name Google isn't exactly "enterprise IT vendor."

And yet, the company qualifies as such. True, it's a recent and small entrant, but Google seems intent on becoming a powerful player in this space.

"It's not a major focus area for them but yeah, why not? I think they have had limited traction in the corporate enterprise market, but that could be very interesting," said Citigroup financial analyst Mark Mahaney.

Google has enterprise products for search, Web analytics and mapping, and the company said it is committed to all of them. But how credible a provider is Google today in this market?

"It depends on how you define enterprise. If you say enterprise and include small- and medium-size businesses, then Google does have some pretty credible offerings," said industry analyst Guy Creese, from Ballardvale Research. "If you're talking Fortune 1000 companies, I think they'll have to change their stripes in a lot of ways to serve that market."

For example, Google's enterprise products are generally very easy to use and set up, which makes them appealing to companies of all sizes, but they tend to offer few options for customization, a turn-off for large organizations, Creese says.

"Many large companies expect that as a given," Creese says. "That's the thing that's going to keep them from doing a lot of business with really large corporations." A way to change this is for Google to aggressively open up these products to external developers via application programming interfaces (APIs) so that these partners can customize the products and extend their capabilities, Creese said.

Google seems to be moving in this direction. For example, it already provides some APIs for enterprise search products, such as the Search Appliance and the Google Desktop for Enterprise, as well as for the Google Earth mapping products. In September, Google also unveiled a partner program to sign up independent software vendors (ISVs), resellers, consultants and systems integrators to provide complementary wares and services for its enterprise search products.

The Search Appliance, which starts at US$30,000, is designed to index information stored in a variety of server-based data repositories, such as intranets, public Web sites, relational databases, enterprise business applications, content management software and legacy systems.

A simpler and less expensive version of the Search Appliance, called the Google Mini, costs US$2,995 and is designed for use by small and medium-size organizations that want to make searchable the information in their intranets and public Web sites. Both products are hardware boxes with Google software in them, and both use the core technology that powers the company's search engine. Google Desktop for Enterprise is a free, downloadable software application that indexes and makes searchable the contents of PC hard drives.

Meanwhile, one of Google's most attention-grabbing products has been its free, downloadable application Google Earth, which it released in mid-2005. Based on technology and products it acquired when it bought Keyhole Corp. in 2004, Google Earth lets users "fly" around the globe, zipping from destination to destination and zooming in and out of cities, thanks to a multiterabyte database of satellite images taken at some point over the past three years.

Google Earth is for more than doing virtual flyovers. Road maps and the Google Local index of business listings are available for U.S., Canada and the U.K. This means that Google Earth identifies on its maps points of interest, such as airports, train tracks, city borders, churches, hospitals, bars, hotels, banks and parks. It also provides driving directions. For 38 major U.S. cities, Google Earth even provides 3D images of buildings.

While Google Earth can be useful to mainstream consumer users for a variety of tasks, such as planning trips, finding a restaurant or getting acquainted with an area before moving there, there are other members of the Google Earth product family designed for business use.

Google Earth Pro, which costs US$400 for an annual license, can import GPS and spreadsheet data, lets users print in a higher resolution than the consumer version and has the ability to measure areas. Its functionality can be extended with optional modules. It is designed for professionals in industries like commercial and residential real estate, architecture, construction, engineering and insurance. There is also a server-based version called Google Earth Enterprise, designed to support hundreds or thousands of simultaneous users.

Google is looking at ways to integrate the Google Earth business products with the enterprise search products. "There's definitely a lot of potential for integration between the Google Earth products and the Search Appliance and the Google Mini. We're starting to look at what might make sense," Dave Girouard, general manager of the Google Enterprise unit, told IDG News Service recently.

Finally, Google plays in the Web analytics market with its Google Analytics hosted service, which monitors Web sites' usage and tracks the performance of online marketing campaigns.

Google recently shook up this market when it started offering Google Analytics for free. (It used to cost US$199 per month.) However, Google got pie in its face when the service experienced serious performance problems due to the avalanche of new subscribers that signed up for it after it became a free service.

Google Analytics had problems for about 48 hours, and a few days later Google temporarily stopped accepting new subscribers, saying it had been overwhelmed by the demand and needed to increase server capacity before it resumed signups.

This is the type of snafu that Google has to avoid if it hopes to convince chief information officers (CIOs) at large companies that it is a credible provider of enterprise IT products, Ballardvale's Creese said.

"The meltdown of Google Analytics won't help things," he said. "It shows Google not quite thinking things through, and that doesn't fly with CIOs."

Still, the stumble didn't bother Jeff Saville too much. The consumer direct marketing manager at Deckers Outdoor has been using Google Analytics for about two years, starting when it was called Urchin on Demand and developed by Urchin Software, a company Google bought in March of this year.

"Working with the Urchin team has been a very nice experience," said Saville, whose employer is a footwear company. "We're pretty excited about this upgrade and the new features being announced."

Google also sells a Web analytics software package for in-house installation, called Urchin 5, which has fewer features than Google Analytics and is available in a base module for US$895.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?