Google has been slowly rolling out their GoogleApps infrastructure for a couple of years now, and has finally reached a stage where it is all coming together. With the launch of their GoogleApps marketplace it seems like it has all come together to allow real third party solutions to any kind of potential problem faced by small to medium sized businesses.
If you are unfamiliar with what Google Apps is exactly, then, from the wikipedia entry on it: Google Apps is a service from Google providing independently customizable versions of several Google products under a custom domain name. It features several Web applications with similar functionality to traditional office suites, including: Gmail, Google Groups, Google Calendar, Talk, Docs and Sites.
The Standard Edition is free and offers the same amount of storage as regular Gmail accounts. The Premier Edition, which offers additional e-mail storage, is available for an annual fee. The Education Edition, which is free, combines features from the Standard and Premier editions.
The Marketplace has created a place for third party companies to create apps (just like your iPhone and Android apps) which can be plugged in to the core Google Apps items – Gmail, Docs etc. The potential power of this setup could be incredible. You will be able to set up your business using a single centralised cloud system of apps, all of which communicate with one another and allow you to keep everything well organised. Your accounts working with your calender working with your analytics working with your customer management….
As with all new marketplaces though, it is difficult to find the best applications to meet your needs. Not only because your needs are specific to your business, but also because every company wants you to believe that their piece of software is the best for their market. That is where you need an independent body reviewing the software available and offering feedback, opinions and insights in to which application is the best, and why.
Google Apps has a simple user rating system built in to it, which serves this function to some extent, but the best example of an independent review service is surely Google Apps Review. They provide a ranking of the best apps based on category, going in to much more detail than the default GoogleApps system. They also provide recommended bundles of apps for specific business structures.