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The Connected Web

Phil Wainewright

Google's Control Panel is its Killer App

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Google last week brought the spotlight back onto on-demand application marketplaces with its launch of the Google Apps Marketplace. Until the search and online advertising giant waded in, the territory had been a quiet backwater, dominated for the past few years by Salesforce.com's AppExchange. It's hard now to credit just how much excitement surrounded the early days of AppExchange, with Marc Benioff describing it as Salesforce.com's "second killer app" and pundits (myself included) rating various contenders in the ecosystem wars to win control of the cloud.

As several commentators have argued, Google's intervention threatens to demote Salesforce.com from its pre-eminent position. "It's a play for share and momentum against Salesforce.com," Forrester Research's Ted Schadler told eWeek:

"[It]'s a marketplace for any cloud-hosted application. So it's an integration hub as well as a marketplace. That puts it in a different place from AppExchange ... It starts with email, not CRM, as the anchor. That's much more interesting because everybody uses email."

Schadler is right to highlight the advantage of building an application platform around email rather than CRM. It's almost two years exactly since Salesforce.com launched its integration of Google Apps (I remember it well, since I wrote the white paper for the launch). Back then, Google benefitted from the enterprise validation and there's no doubt that integration to Salesforce.com helped expand its footprint in the market. But for many enterprises, embedding email and collaboration into CRM is the wrong way round — even Salesforce.com implicitly recognises that with its rollout of Chatter as a means of expanding beyond the sales office and the customer service center.

Schadler is also right to emphasize the integration angle. Google's initiative isn't simply an application marketplace. Just as the launch of AppExchange was a prelude to Salesforce.com's application platform strategy, so the goal of the Apps Marketplace is to put Google Apps at the heart of an enterprise's on-demand applications infrastructure.

One of its strongest assets in that quest is the relatively unprepossessing control panel that allows enterprise administrators to manage application provisioning. Email is core not only because everyone uses it, but also because it's so intimately tied to identity — and thus to an enterprise's identity management systems. It's the key to determining not only who people are but also what applications and resources they can access. At a stroke, the Apps Marketplace brings a swathe of applications under the jurisdiction of the Google Apps Control Panel, which by default becomes the central management console for applying enterprise policy to on-demand application provisioning. It's a masterstroke, because every time an enterprise adds another application or resource from the Marketplace, it silently ties itself more and more tightly into using Google Apps as the controlling hub of its on-demand infrastructure.

1 Comment

What are the pre-conditions that make sense for an application to be on Google Apps.

Or are there none(links with Google services like Gmail being just a optional convenience). Is it just the new market place for apps independent of proprietary programming language (eg Apex) and located in a hosting environment for apps ie in a PAAS.

Phil Wainewright blogs about how businesses are using the Web to get better plugged into today's fast-moving, digital economy.

Phil Wainewright

Phil Wainewright specializes in on-demand services View more

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