Internet search leader Google unveiled its latest set of online business tools Thursday, aiming to snare a bigger piece of the enterprise market dominated by Microsoft. Google already has at least one player onboard: IP and telephony firm Avaya.
Avaya, a top provider of Internet phone switchboards for businesses, says it plans to link its IP Office product to Google Apps Premiere Edition to provide productivity-enhancing solutions geared toward businesses of all sizes.
“Google Apps offers the potential for us to provide our first-class communications applications to a broader audience,” Lawrence Byrd, director of IP telephony at Avaya, told CRM Buyer.
Avaya’s partnership with Google initially will focus on integrating the IP Office product, which targets small and medium-sized businesses.
The Google service offers a powerful set of APIs (application program interfaces), Byrd noted, that should enable Avaya to create new solutions geared toward the needs of small businesses. Among the potential applications are tools for improving employee productivity and optimizing communications — whether they take place via a PC, a telephone, or a mobile device.
The combined solutions will be sold through Avaya’s network of resellers and distributors and are slated to roll out by September, according to Byrd. The companies will jointly market and support the offers according to the terms of their agreement.
Looking Out for the Little Guy
Although Google Apps Premier is a premium version of Google’s hosted services for communication and collaboration designed for businesses of all sizes, it will likely target the smaller and medium-sized business that may be looking for alternatives to the pricier Microsoft Office suite.
The service, which costs US$50 per user per year, provides Web-based collaboration tools to organizations, allowing them to use their own domain names. It also gives them access to word processing, spreadsheet and calendar applications, as well as e-mail and instant messaging. The terms include guaranteed uptime, IT management tools and technical support.
“Businesses are looking for applications that are simple and intuitive for employees, but also offer the security, reliability and manageability their organizations require,” said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, Google Enterprise.
Clash Is Coming
For some time, Google has been flying under the radar, forgoing overt challenges to Microsoft Office products. However, the new premium service fires a shot right across Redmond’s front lawn, directly competing with Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. If Google’s play is successful, Microsoft could take a serious hit in the enterprise space.
Google now has a chance to address the market some feel Microsoft neglected: lower-budget clients. More than 100,000 small businesses and hundreds of universities already use Google’s free hosted service, the company claims.