The Future As Seen By Me In 2010

Well looky here, things one has scanned in eh. (ignore the photo, that's some guy that made some accounting software, not sure what became of him ;) MIKE RIVERSDALE is fuming. The expensive headphones he bought in Sydney three weeks ago have just died. His first reaction is not to randomly spill expletives into his coffee, but to use his iPhone to vent his frustration to his Twitter con- tacts, under the moniker Miramar Mike. "I will also put, 'What should I do?' It's a conversation. I'm reaching out to the people following me." The council predicts hand-held digital devices such as smartphones will rule the world in 2040. They already rule the life of Mr Riversdale, whose company WaveAdept helps businesses adapt - their computing sys- tems to allow staff to work from anywhere - and with anyone. In order of fre- equency, he uses his iPhone to tweet (1136 followers; 8363 tweets since joining), e-mail, make phone calls and use online services, such as checki

Top 10 Ten Questions Kiwis Ask Me About Google Apps

Note: this post was orginally a set of pages on the old WaveAdept site. All WaveAdept links now point to the equivalent Cloud Sherpas page and out of date information has been removed

Moving to the cloud, be it Google Apps or any other service, raises valid questions for all businesses that need resolving to everyone's satisfaction and, in my many years of bringing Google Apps to businesses, I have realised the New Zealand business of all sizes have very similar questions, namely:
  1. Privacy - Will anyone in Google be able to see/use my company information?
  2. Security - Who knows how secure the servers are, and what about the data travelling across the public Internet?
  3. NZ Internet link - We have only one link out of NZ and what if it gets bombed by Al-Qaeda?
  4. Change - Why bother changing, we can do everything on our own machines which we've paid good money for?
  5. Functionality - If it just doesn't have all the features of Microsoft Word it can't be that good. no?
  6. Get out - How do we get out of Google once we've given all our data to them?
  7. Patriot Act - Just because Google says it "won't do evil" with our data doesn't mean the US Government won't force it to with the Patriot Act!
  8. Bleeding edge - It sounds good but we're not a company to use the new "cool" stuff just for the sake of it, we've got a business to run!
  9. Integration - We have many internal systems we've written that rely on email, how on earth can Gmail support them?
  10. Support - Google doesn't even have an office here in NZ, what happens when I can't get to my email?

1: Privacy
Will anyone in Google be able to see/use my company information?

The short answer is No!

To put it simply, Google does not own your data. They do not take a position on whether the data belongs to the institution signing up for Apps, or the individual user (that's between the two of you), but they know it doesn't belong to them!

The data which you put into Google Apps is yours, and they believe it should stay that way. They think that means three key things.
  1. They won't share your data with others except as noted in their Privacy Policy.
  2. They keep your data as long as you require them to keep it.
  3. Finally, you should be able to take your data with you if you choose to use external services in conjunction with Google Apps or stop using their services altogether.

Further reading

2: Security
Who knows how secure the servers are, and what about the data travelling across the public Internet?

Google operates one of the most robust networks of distributed data centers in the world. The protection of the data and intellectual property on these servers is their top priority, with extensive resources dedicated to maintaining data security. Protected around the clock and monitored by a dedicated security team, their facilities are held to extremely high standards of scrutiny every moment of the day.

In a nutshell they can provide a level of data security far exceeding the vast majority of business.

Your data will be stored in Google's network of data centers. Google maintains a number of geographically distributed data centers, the locations of which are kept discreet for security purposes. Google's computing clusters are designed with resiliency and redundancy in mind, eliminating any single point of failure and minimising the impact of common equipment failures and environmental risks.

Access to data centers is very limited to only authorised select Google employees personnel.

All Google Apps services provide the ability to access all data using encryption and customers can choose to require this option for their users. This helps ensure that no one except the user has access to his or her data. This is true for access to our mail, calendar, video, and chat data via our web applications. The mobile email client also uses encrypted access to ensure the privacy of communications. They also require encryption for access to your mail data by third party clients.

Read more

3: NZ Internet link
We have only one link out of NZ and what if it gets bombed by Al-Qaeda?

We’ve really been asked this and, joking aside, it is a valid question about the apparent reliance of all cloud services to be permanently connected to the Internet. The rapid move to HTML5 by all major web browsers will deliver off-line access to Google Apps and most online services (Facebook, TradeMe etc).

HTML5 is an exciting development in the Web delivering richer applications without the need to install anything onto the browser. HTML5 also standardises "off line" access across all modern browsers enabling Google Apps to deliver the full breadth of services to all modern environments without the need for plugins/extensions.

You currently are able to access your Google Apps email and calendar by using any modern office client such as Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird or via your mobile devices such as iPhone, Windows Mobile and Android.

More reading

4: Change
Why bother changing, we can do everything on our own machines which we've paid good money for?

Indeed if you can truly operate at the scale, openness, accessibility and at the rate of innovation of Google then we see no reason to move to the cheaper services provided. If, however, you are in the same boat as most business and are looking to both streamline your costs AND provide a greater flexibility to your business then Google Apps should always be on your "must review" list.

The first step in focussing on your business is to recognise what you don't do - you are unlikely to be in the business of generating electricity, running water, providing email services or hosting collaboration spaces for both yourself and anyone else you need to work with. If that is the case then you should stop tying up staff, costs and brain energy on these activities and recognise that they are commodities that you can "buy in".

With the full Google Apps service suite you can now free yourself up to concentrate fully on the "secret sauce" of your business.

Contact me to talk about how you can both remove costs AND transform your company - it's what I do with Cloud Sherpas!

More reading

5: Functionality
If it just doesn't have all the features of Microsoft Word it can't be that good. no?

The short answer is No!

There is, however, a large difference between the approaches of traditional office application vendors (Microsoft for instance) and Google. In a nutshell Google Apps is “designed for the teams of tomorrow, not the office workers of today” [more].

Of course everyone needs to be "taken on the journey" and so there is a great deal of familiarity with the services provided with the "20% that everyone needs to do" fully catered for across all the Google Apps services. The services can be used to work as your teams work now, in "bubbles at a desk" but are designed from the very start to be used collaboratively and have effectively removed the traditional technical barriers to sharing and working together and is these that breath live into stale work environments.

Contact Cloud Sherpas and let us show you the power of the "Share" button ...

More reading

6: Get out
How do we get out of Google once we've given all our data to them?

To put it simply, Google does not own your data and as such are constantly working towards making it a "one-click exit" for you to get back all your data in a common format that you can then import into other services.

If you've decided to use another solution for your organisation's email, calendars, documents, and sites, don't forget to migrate your data to your new solution before deleting your Google Apps account.
Here's a list a data transfer options available for Google Apps:
  • Email: Gmail accounts offer an option to download all mail to your computer via POP or IMAP access with a local desktop client, such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • Contacts: Each email account allows users to export the contacts list in a CSV or vCard format.
  • Calendar: Google Calendar offers the ability to download an iCal file to your desktop (limited to calendars that are publicly shared), or you can visit http://www.google.com/calendar/hosted/yourdomain/exporticalzip (Make sure to replace your domain with your actual domain name) to download all calendars in your 'My Calendars' list.
  • Docs: Google Docs lets you save your documents, spreadsheets and presentations to your hard drive in various formats.
  • Sites: The Google Sites Data API allows client applications to access, import, export and modify content within a Google Site.

Additionally, some advanced options include Google Data APIs for Calendar, Contacts, Docs, and Spreadsheets.

Google aims to make it easy for our users to transfer their personal data in and out of Google's services, by building simple import and export functions.

Read more

7: Patriot Act
Just because Google says it "won't do evil" with our data doesn't mean the US Government won't force it to with the Patriot Act!

Google complies with valid legal process. It is Google’s policy to notify users before turning over their data whenever possible and legally permissible.

If you have offices based in Europe you should also know that Google adheres to the U.S. Safe Harbor Privacy Principles of Notice, Choice, Onward Transfer, Security, Data Integrity, Access and Enforcement, and is registered with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Safe Harbor Program.

Generally, an organisation must decide whether its use of Google Apps is compliant with any regulations it may be subject to.

Cloud Sherpas can assist all organisations through this risk assessment process and provide the conduit to discussions with the appropriate Google Enterprise staff when required - contact us for details.

Further reading

8: Bleeding edge
It sounds good but we're not a company to use the new "cool" stuff just for the sake of it, we've got a business to run!

Precisely! You are not in the email / calendar business and yet you hire staff, consume resources and focus on running these services for yourself - give it to those that make it their business and then you can concentrate totally on yours.

Cloud services in general have been used by major corporations for the past 6+ years and Google Apps is now over 5 years old and used by millions of users and organisations of all sizes.

We have helped many New Zealand/Australia based organisations "into the cloud" and can point to such successes as Tait Radio:


You are not alone, call us to hear other high profile organisations that have 'gone Google'.

Further reading

9: Integration
We have many internal systems we've written that rely on email, how on earth can Gmail support them?

Google Apps should no longer be viewed as merely a service to be consumed but a platform to be built upon. As each requirement will be unique we are happy to talk with you about your needs - contact us but please also please check out our Cloud Development service for general details.

If you are looking to replace systems you currently host there are many 1,000s of 3rd party applications listed in the Google Apps Marketplace. These extend your Google Apps services providing integration for your users and providing yet more cost effective solutions that can free up your resources to concentrate on your own business.

Further reading

10: Support
Google doesn't even have an office here in NZ, what happens when I can't get to my email?

Not true, Google does have offices and senior Google Enterprise employees based in New Zealand (and jolly helpful people they are). Note that a main Google Enterprise centre is located in Sydney, Australia a mere hop, skip and jump away over the Tasman.

For that local, cost effective and extremely friendly support may we humbly suggest Cloud Sherpas. We can support your whole organisation, from the small start up to the multi-1,000 employee corporations.

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