Google Apps and enterprises
My colleague Tom Austin has posted a call for Google to be more transparent about enterprise usage of Google Apps. This was triggered by a TechCrunch article on Google’s reduction of the number of free users for a given Google Apps account.
I’ve been wondering how many businesses use Google Apps almost exclusively for messaging, and how many of them make substantial use of collaboration. My expectation is that a substantial number of the folks with custom domains on Google Apps solely or almost-solely do email or email forwarding. For instance, for my WordPress.com-hosted blog, I have no option for email for that domain other than via Google Apps, because WordPress.com has explicit MX record support for them and nobody else — so I use that to forward email for that domain to my regular email account. Given how heavily bloggers have driven domain registrations and “vanity” domains, I’d expect Google Apps to be wrapped up pretty heavily in that phenomenon. This is not to discount the small business, of course, whose usage of this kind of service also becomes more significant over time.
Those statistics aside, though, and going back to Tom’s thoughts on transparency, I think he’s right, if Google intends to court the enterprise market in the way that the enterprise is accustomed to being courted. I am uncertain if Google intends that, though, especially when fighting more featureful, specialized vendors in order to get an enterprise clientele is likely a waste of resources at the moment. The type of enterprise who is going to adopt this kind of solution is probably not the kind of enterprise who wants to see a bunch of case studies and feel reassured by them; they’re independent early adopters with high tolerance for risk. (This goes back to a point I made in a previous post: Enterprise IT culture tends to be about risk mitigation.)