Google reveals plans to be the small firm’s CIO

1 Oct 2008

As Google continues to spread its tentacles into a diverse array of social media and all kinds of useful tools and services, the company told that it is unswerving in its ambition to be a strong player in the enterprise software world.

Speaking with last week following a business seminar at Google’s offices in Dublin, the company’s head of enterprise for Ireland and the UK, Robert Whiteside said that Google’s enterprise products such as Docs, Gmail and Apps evolved from consumer technology.

“These tools have been around for many years and many companies have had different reactions,” Whiteside explained. “They either block them as a security threat, or others would take a more enlightened approach and see their benefits in day-to-day world and bring them into the workplace in a controlled fashion.”

To underpin Whiteside’s point, he demonstrated that Telegraph Media Group in the UK has deployed Google Apps Premier Edition after a six-month trial, issuing Google Mail, search functionality and collaboration tools such as Google Talk and Docs to all its staff, with all the data hosted by Google.

Construction and engineering company Taylor Woodrow has also delivered Google Apps Premier Edition to its 1,800 employees and estimates over £1m sterling in cost savings by moving to hosted email and collaboration services.

“Many of our staff are highly mobile with around 200 mobile technicians who spend most of their working day at construction sites and client premises,” said Taylor Woodrow’s head of IT, Rob Ramsay. “The ability to provide access on the move to email, documents, spreadsheets and everything else that comes with Google Apps is something that will help increase productivity.”

Whiteside’s colleague Dave Armstrong, head of marketing EMEA for Google Enterprise, referred to research from Forrester which estimates that 86pc of the global workforce uses some form of consumer technology in the workplace.

“Their popularity alone has shown their usefulness,” he said, pointing out that 500,000 businesses around the world use Google Apps and 3,000 a day are signing up, including stalwarts like BP, British Airways and Royal Sun Alliance.

“Cloud computing is the new way of doing things. We’re seeing rapid adoption and people are comfortable about hosting customer data in a cloud managed by Google,” Armstrong said, referring to Google’s acquisition last year of IT security player Postini for US$625m.

Whiteside explained: “Our CEO Eric Schmidt has made it clear that building out wonderful web applications to enable people to collaborate better on any device they wish to and access services like archiving is our strategy going forward. Expect to see more new business products in the future.”

Present at the seminar was Dominic Morrogh of Dublin-based firm Visrez, which has a web reservation system for hotels, conferences and visitor centres. Morrogh said that the time of businesses building firewalls around themselves are over, and that applications like Postini give businesses the granularity of control they seek.

“Firms have to shift their focus from how much time they spend preventing people sending stuff from X to Y and instead focus on how quickly and securely they can go about their business.

“Once you take that leap of fate and push things out there to the cloud, you realise there are no firewalls left.

“Another reason people seem to be using Google Apps is they don’t want to have to manage all the data themselves and they want to do things like single-sign on.

“Having these capabilities and online backup without having to employ an IT manager or IT department is a very powerful thing for a small business. In many ways, Google is becoming the small business’s CIO,” Morrogh observed.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years