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Google Goes Deeper into the Enterprise with Chrome and GAE for Business

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Google wants to make inroads in the enterprise space offering a business version of Chrome, including policies, preferences, and configuration capabilities, and upgrading the GAE offering with an SLA, support, billing, hosted SQL, SSL, and SSO.

Google is moving into the enterprise browser space by offering a version of Chrome providing administration features required by businesses: admin installer, policies, preferences, control of updates, support. The browser itself is the same as the one used by casual users but it comes in an MSI installer for Windows, and a solution for Mac is to follow soon. On Linux, the administrator can use a regular Chrome version that is pushed to various systems using, for example, SCP, making sure the policy file is also copied on the target systems.

One of the basic pieces of enterprise application deployment is setting policies. Chrome for Business comes with such policies supporting home and error page settings, proxy server settings, languages, disabled plug-ins, safe browsing, statistic reports, automatic updating control, and others. Beside policies, which apply to groups of users and do not keep state of user’s browsing, Chrome for Business comes with user preferences, which are settings particular to each user. Both policies and preferences come as templates that an admin should use as they are or edit and deploy on his network.

Another feature of interest is the ability to control automatic updates. Google does not recommend turning automatic updates off, but it is possible. One needs to keep previous versions of Chrome in case a roll back is desired because Google provides only the latest version of the installer. Google also mentions that admins should expect often updates of Chrome.

One last feature worth mentioning is support. Unlike Google’s traditional support via help web pages and user forums, users with a Google Apps For Business or Education account will benefit from phone and email support for the latest development, beta, and released version of the browser.

Another area where Google wants to make inroads into the enterprise is the cloud computing space. Google is preparing their Google App Engine (GAE) platform with features such as Service Level Agreement (SLA), phone/email support, billing, hosted SQL, and  SSL. Some of these features are to be ready by the end of this year, while some will be rolled out in Q1 or Q2 of 2011, according to the roadmap.

The GAE for Business SLA draft specifies that Google will offer service credits in value of 10% of the monthly charge if the service drops under 99.9%, increasing further until it reaches 100% if the service availability drops under 90%. The service credits are not money reimbursed but credits available for services used later. Practically the user pays less in the following months if Google does not provide enough service availability.

Business users will be able to contract Premium Support for $1000/month, offering a private online portal, accepting up to 3 named contacts, and guaranteed response time of 8 business hours for a maximum of 10 issues/month. The support refers to issues related to using and diagnosing GAE services, and does not cover support for end use of applications or services, system or code development.

There are no details about the billing plan, all that can be said is that it was to be made available by the end of 2010, and now it is to be ready during Q2/2011. Christian Schalk, a Developer Advocate at Google, mentioned “Pricing that makes sense: apps costs $8 per user, up to a maximum of $1000, per month” in his presentation Google App Engine for Business 101.

GAE will support hosted SQL, the user being able to move his relational database to Google’s cloud environment, a preview being already available. They will also offer SSL on company’s domain and integrated Single Sign-On support.

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