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Cloud partners: G Suite update heralds a Google enterprise push

Google's rebranding efforts make a strong appeal to the enterprise and could reposition the company as a major force in the market, according to cloud partners.

Cloud consultants suggested Google's rebranding initiative with Google Cloud and G Suite could boost the company's position with enterprise customers.

Google on Sept. 29 consolidated its cloud offerings under the Google Cloud banner. That brand encompasses Google Cloud Platform -- the company's public cloud -- as well as Google's machine learning technologies and APIs. Google Cloud also includes Google Apps for Work, the company's enterprise productivity suite. Google Apps for Work has been renamed G Suite as part of Google's cloud update. Google also unveiled new capabilities for its cloud lineup.

Tony Safoian, president and CEO at SADA Systems, an IT service and cloud consulting company based in Los Angeles, said Google, with its cloud announcement, "makes a statement that they are the cloud. They are moving away from being a sort of upstart competitor in the old paradigm."

And that's a timely statement, noted Aric Bandy, president at Agosto Inc., a cloud services company based in Minneapolis. Agosto provides services around the Google Cloud Platform and Google Apps.

"Google is behind in the email collaboration space and in the cloud and have to make a lot of moves in a very short amount of time to close the gap," he said.

"Google has needed to make a very public and direct proclamation that they are going to be an enterprise player," he added. "Prior to this [announcement], the market hasn't heard it."

Google has needed to make a very public and direct proclamation that they are going to be an enterprise player.
Aric Bandypresident, Agosto

Google has some advantages as it pursues its renewed cloud push amid rivals such as Amazon Web Services. Safoian, whose company is a longtime reseller of Google Apps, said Google is "isolating the fabric of its own infrastructure capabilities" and exposing them to enterprise customers. He cited elements such as Google's Cloud Vision API for image content analysis, machine learning capabilities and containerization technology. As for the latter, Google developed Kubernetes, an open source container management system, and offers Google Container Engine within Google Cloud for running Docker containers.

Safoian said Google offers enterprises cloud capabilities today that "competitors have to build from scratch."

G Suite refresh

G Suite, meanwhile, offers updates to components such as Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Sheets and Google Hangouts.

"I'm pretty excited about the new features," said Micah Thor, president at Tech Guru, a managed service provider based in Minneapolis. Tech Guru uses Google Apps in house and has some clients that use the product.

Thor cited Google Calendar's use of machine intelligence to automatically pick times on a user's calendar as benefit.

"That is a time-consuming process for a lot of our clients," he said of scheduling meeting times.

Thor also pointed to Google Drive, to which Google has added a Team Drives feature that lets organizations manage content ownership and sharing at the team level. Google has been previewing Team Drives and is readying an early adopter program.

"It's nice to see Drive mature a little bit," Thor said, noting that the file storage offering seemed to lag behind developments on Office 365.

Thor said Drive hasn't been a fit for his clients, but added that more customers may adopt Drive as Google brings it up-to-date.

An updated Google Hangouts also provides customer benefits, according to Safoian. Google said Hangouts will do away with downloads and browser plug-ins and let users invite participants who don't have Google accounts. Safoian said the ability to let anonymous users or people lacking Gmail or Google accounts to collaborate in real time will let organizations turn off services such as WebEx. He said organizations that drop WebEx and similar services -- as they expand collaboration within Google Apps -- will experience "hard dollar cost savings" as a result.

Google said it is previewing the new meeting capabilities and will work with more customers via an early adopter program.

Cloud evolution

Overall, Safoian said the G Suite update demonstrates the evolution of a product that he said had stagnated in many ways. He said the productivity suite hadn't changed much in the last three to five years.

"Some of the elements demonstrated today are exactly what the partner ecosystem -- and the market -- is looking for," he said.

Bandy said Google's cloud investment and leadership under Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google Cloud, can set the company on track to become a dominant cloud player in the enterprise market.

"They have the cash; they have the capability," Bandy said. "All they have to have is the right leadership and the right appetite. The last couple of years, that hasn't been in place. It is here now."

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What's the best new feature of Google's enterprise productivity suite?
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Automated scheduling of meeting times would be a huge time-saver for me!
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