Google has fulfilled every IT administrator's nightmare: It's given users of its app packages the ability to download and use new apps from its Marketplace without IT intervention.
It’s hard to know what's behind this latest move. It may be that Google is eager to offer users of its Google Apps for Work, Google Apps for Education or Google Apps for Government as much functionality as possible as quickly as s possible.
IT administrators are a key element in the protection of enterprise data, so enabling users to by-pass them and download whatever apps they want doesn’t seems risky at best.
That said, it won’t be a free-for-all. Enterprises will be given the option of creating ‘white lists’ of apps that users can download. But unless and until they create that list, users will be able to download any of the apps that are available by default.
Until now, only administrators were authorized to add tools from the Marketplace to their App domains. Chris Han, product manager for Google Apps Marketplace explained:
Previously, only administrators could install these apps within an organization. So if you work at an organization that uses Google Apps for Work, Google Apps for Education or Google Apps for Government, you now have greater access to apps that help you work faster, more efficiently and collaboratively,” he said in a blog post.
The Google Apps Marketplace has a wide variety of options, including Smartsheet for online project management, Freshbooks for accounting, Zoho for customer support, GQueues for to-do lists and more.
In fact, there are hundreds of third-party apps that users can download. There are also numerous API’s that users can use to integrate cloud applications with the Apps suite in different ways, raising the possibility of connections to cloud-based apps that a given enterprise may not particularly want.
If you search the word collaboration in the Marketplace, you get an estimates 370 entries. Search under social and you get 190 entries. Search under enterprise collaboration and you get around 80. Even "syncing" returns 20 entries. Some of these apps will likely be able to communicate across the firewall, something that clearly has massive security implications.
So is this a good thing? Like everything else , if it is planned and implemented carefully and strategically, it should be a good thing and enable users to become more productive.
But go back two or even three years, when enterprises were having similar discussions around Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) strategies.
IBM even went so far as to ban the use of personal devices until it could work out a coherent strategy around security and in particular around information sharing. It’s not quite the same, but the bottom line is that unmonitored access to apps in enterprises is clearly an IT headache.