A year after its launch, Google Apps looks set to pose serious competition to Microsoft Office's dominant position on business desktop applications, but some say there remain challenges to overcome before it can make significant headway. Gartner offers some considerations for IT managers thinking about moving to Google Apps:
1. Fully understand the cost of desktop-based applications. For most enterprises, cloud-based e-mail services which offer greater economies of scale than traditional outsourcing - from firms like Google and now Microsoft - can be dramatically lower than internal or traditional outsourced systems.
2. Understand your regulatory, security and privacy concerns. Cloud-based providers cannot meet all regulatory requirements for all enterprises (for example, storing all data locally, within the state or province) but, with special add-ons, many of these regulatory requirements can be met and responsibility for compliance can (sometimes) be pushed off to the provider.
3. Talk to Google (and others, such as Microsoft) about the cost of software-as-a-service approaches.
4. Think beyond email. Where might a firm exploit Google Presentations and Google Chat as a "free" way to do low-end web conferencing? Shared display and editing of a presentation is not part of Microsoft Office today. That said, Google Presentations is not presently as feature-rich as PowerPoint. Each has its place.
5. Engage users to a "show and tell" where they are using various web-based tools (like Google Apps but also including other tools) in ways they believe benefit the business. Share best practices, create communities to actively support internal success stories and spread the word about what really adds value.