No matter what you say about Google, Google Apps has become one of the everyday work tools for many enterprises, especially -- although not exclusively -- in the SMB space. Most people assume that easy functionality combined with bargain-basement pricing is the main attraction. However, according to research by Cloud Alliance, that is not, in fact, the case.

Cloud Alliance and Google

Before we look at the findings it’s important to have a quick look at Cloud Alliance for Google Apps. Founded in November 2011, it is a network of independent SaaS providers that build and deploy applications that augment, enhance and extend the user experience and functions of Google Apps.

It’s not really clear here how independent Cloud Alliance is, or what its relationship is with Google. Cloud Alliance members provide tools such as webinars and reports to educate administrators and end users on best practices for operating within the Google Apps ecosystem.

Not that there is any issue around this; this is just for those who get annoyed when people start promoting Google. Cloud Alliance doesn’t appear to be Google-oriented, but rather business-oriented, and says that one of its goals is to help companies navigate their way around the thousands of apps in Google Apps Marketplace.

Google Apps, Security, Privacy

With that out of the way, let’s look at how Cloud Alliance knows about users’ preferences. Simple. It asked. Over the course of February and March this year, over 2000 Google Apps administrators answered a survey that aimed to find out what it is exactly that is pulling people in droves onto Google Apps.

Of those 2000, nearly one-third work for organizations in the IT or internet industries, which means they know exactly what they like -- and want when it comes to apps.

And despite what you might have thought, the biggest pull was collaboration capabilities, and not price, which really underlines the fact that no amount of money can buy you good collaboration functionality.

But in fairness, Google Apps really is a collaboration platform and it comes as no real surprise that this was mentioned in the responses.

Google Apps Secondary Considerations

However, the results also showed that data security, and end-user privacy within that collaboration environment, was paramount, with more than 200 workers listing privacy and security as their primary concerns.

These were followed by:

  • 17.5% system availability, reliability and service level agreements
  • 15% interoperability with existing software.

In smaller organizations -- those with fewer than 200 employees -- when asked about their biggest concerns before deploying, the principal response was that they didn’t have any concerns.

In this respect, the adage “if you think nothing’s wrong, you don’t know what’s going on” springs to mind. But maybe it’s just positive company thinking, or -- and this is more likely -- that Google has spent so much effort marketing apps and the safety/security elements of them that enterprises, after looking into it, genuinely feel secure.

This is borne out by the secondmost frequent answer to this question, which is "security, privacy, performance and availability." SLAs and reliability also get a look in here as well.

Google Apps Marketplace

The research also shows that Google Apps Marketplace has also been a key motivating factor for many companies, principally because it’s easy to use, many of the respondents said.

Of the 50,000 Google Apps domains worldwide contacted, an average of six apps per domain were downloaded from the Marketplace, with the vast majority of people only using three of them regularly.

This may be a problem around integration. 23% of survey respondents said that deeper integration between third-party applications and Google Apps would make their Google Apps experience better.

If you’re interested in more on this, there is a webinar on the way. It takes place on May 10 at 2:00 pm ET. Check it out here