How does the Google Apps Marketplace fit in with business?

Google's new apps model is great for small business, but it might not work so well for enterprises

This week Google announced the Google Apps Marketplace, an online store for cloud-based third-party applications that integrate with existing Google Apps. By tying the third-party offerings to its own apps, Google is able to offer single sign-in, centralized administration, and data sharing among apps, thereby addressing some of the headaches associated with cloud-based software

So Google has made the process of assembling a lineup of disparate online apps much more user-friendly, but how business-friendly is the Apps Marketplace? Well, that depends on your business.

[ InfoWorld's Roger L. Sheier compared Google Apps' promises with the reality of what it delivers. ]

The apps presently offered are generally lightweight business apps -- things like sales tools, customer contact organizers, basic accounting tools, project management apps, and so forth. While the selection is sure to grow over time, the lack of deep-diving, powerful apps coupled with the ever-present security concerns surrounding cloud apps will likely keep enterprises away from official deployments of apps from the Apps Marketplace.

"For large enterprise customers, they might not be ready to jump right over," says Sheri McLeish, an analyst with Forrester Research. "I don't see [Google Apps Marketplace] as a replacement technology for investments companies already have. But for exploring or starting out a project, the low cost of entry could attract users."

Google says that installing apps from the marketplace is a four-step process, so not only is it an inexpensive option, it's an easily deployed option as well, which will make it attractive to smaller businesses that don't have the time or resources to devote to bigger, more complicated software rollouts. Workers can simply find the apps they need, install them, and start using them.

Of course, businesses also need some reassurance that they're installing a quality product, and that's where the App Market's peer review system comes into play. "Consumers tend to value peer reviews, and the feedback in the App Market is something buyers are thirsty for," says McLeish. Potential customers who are curious about a certain app can get real-world user feedback, which can go a long way toward convincing them to pursue or avoid a given product.

For businesses looking to assemble best-of-breed applications with minimal headaches, Google Apps Market could be right up their alley, but some enterprises or businesses that already have done large software deployments won't find Apps Market software attractive as an official deployment.

This story, "How does the Google Apps Marketplace fit in with business?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Pete Babb's Killer Apps blog at InfoWorld.com.

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