For Google, 2011 seemed to be the year of social networking: Google+ came out in June of last year and Google+ Pages for businesses was released in November. But just before the end of 2011, a different piece of Google news was made public that is especially relevant for SAP customers. On December 18, the search engine company and SAP announced plans to integrate Google Apps for Business, a set of web-based solutions for organizations of all sizes, with SAP Business ByDesign, the on-demand ERP suite for small and medium enterprises (SME) and subsidiaries of large enterprises.
This collaboration was initiated at the request of SAP customers. It will run first in a pilot program in France, the UK, and the US before being made available in other countries, and is planned to be delivered in a feature pack update in Q3 2012. SAP is currently working on integrating the Google software (Gmail for business, Google Calendar, Google Docs) into Business ByDesign’s process flows. One example of a possible integration point would allow a Business ByDesign user who is making an appointment in the CRM module to simultaneously enter the appointment in Google Calendar app. SAP also plans to support the Android mobile OS and the Google App Engine. This will allow developers to build a wide variety of business apps on the Google App Engine and tie them into SAP Business ByDesign.
SAP customers who want to take advantage of the integration will have to subscribe to both software services. The cost of Google Apps for Business is US$5 per user per month for an unlimited contract or US$50 per user per year for a year-long contract. For SAP Business ByDesign, subscription fees start at US$89 per user per month.
Google and business
Google Apps for Business comprise several products that, at first glance, may seem familiar to the casual Google user. But in fact, there are a few key differences between normal Google Apps (like Gmail and Google Docs) and Google Apps for Business. High security standards are one of the features designed especially for businesses.
Security in Google Apps
When it comes to accessing and sharing data in a Google App, Google supports both a two-step verification process and an organization’s own authorization system. Google Apps integrate with standard web single sign-on systems using the SAML 2.0 standard. Furthermore, most apps allow the administrators to control the settings for sharing and editing, so only the intended employees can see certain information.
In addition, Google Apps successfully completed the SSAE 16 Type II audit, a security control carried out by an independent third party. The software also has a FISMA certification, which is the information security certification that all US federal organizations are required to hold.
Business data is stored in Google’s network of data centers, which, for security purposes, are maintained at a number of different secret locations. The data centers are designed to minimize equipment failure and environmental risk. And access to these centers is very limited.
Reliable business services
Furthermore, Google promises that its apps for businesses are extremely reliable. Google Apps offers a 99.9% Service Level Agreement and estimates that customers typically experience less than 15 minutes of downtime per month. This is because Google simultaneously preserves business data in multiple data centers. If one data center is unable to serve the business, then the system automatically uses another data center with no disruption to service.
Gmail for business
This web-based email service lets users access their inbox and write emails at the office, at home, on their mobile device, and even offline. It syncs with Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone and offers 25 GB of storage per user. In addition, Gmail for business lets administrators customize spam protection settings.
This app integrates with Gmail and is interoperable with other calendar applications. For example, if a contact writes an email to you, suggesting a date and time for the next meeting, you can directly create an appointment in your calendar from the email. You can even overlay multiple calendars to see when other people are available. Calendars can be shared company-wide or just with select coworkers – this is regulated using a range of permission controls.
Not only does this app let users work on documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations from anywhere, it also enables multiple users to edit the file at the same time. This makes it easier for teams to work together. Administrators can always manage permissions for file sharing, and document owners can revoke file access if need be.
Google Chrome for Business
Unlike normal Google Chrome, this browser was built specifically to work with Google Apps for Business. For example, it supports the offline use of Gmail, Google Docs, and Calendar, and enables desktop notifications. There are two versions of this browser available, one for small businesses and one for medium and large enterprises.