You've heard the rumors. We reported
on the speculation. Finally, Google has officially announced its paid application plan. For $50 per user per year, companies can outsource a significant portion, if not all, of their back end IT to the search behemoth. Not only is Google rolling out a paid version of Apps, it is upgrading its free, ad supported version of Apps with many new features including the Google Docs hosted apps suite. The major difference between the two plans is the 10Gb of storage you get with the $50/year plan vs. the 2Gb you get with the free version. The 'fiddy' also buys you:
* 99.9% uptime guarantee for email (terms of service
* Email migration tools (limited release)
* Conference room and resource scheduling
* 24/7 assistance, including phone support
* 3rd party applications and services
Google lists the full breakdown on their website
Not listed, but also very important, is Google's ability to send corporate email through a third-party SMTP server, allowing for more records management
functionality for those concerned with Sarbanes Oxely, HIPAA, and the like.
Avaya, wasting no time, has unveiled plans
to integrate VoIP to Google Apps. Whether or not this will be through the supplied API or will work directly with GTalk remains to be seen, but it nonetheless adds another piece of the office puzzle to the Apps platform.
The rollout will obviously favor small companies at first, especially without a volume discounted plan. Small to Medium Enterprises (SME's) are also more likely to have less infrastructure and be more agile when it comes to migrating their email systems.
Large enterprises will be tempted, based on how the first movers rate the service, because of the large scale simplification and inevitable cost savings. Additionally, the advertised but yet unleashed email migration tools may make the process a bit less painful for IT departments.
We're all very curious how quickly Microsoft will respond to Google as they ramp up their own Office Live hosted applications. Google's announcement is, however, the first shot in what will likely be a long, drawn out, war for the office supremacy. We welcome the competition. It will surely benefit those of us embracing a software as a service world.
For more CMSWire coverage of Google Apps, see: Google Moves (further) into the Enterprise Google Apps Lightens Messaging Load Google's Paid Doc Management + a PowerPoint Killer?