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February 09, 2010

Google Steps Up its Mobile Enterprise Game

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

If there was any doubt that Google (News - Alert) was not serious about mobile enterprise applications, it was wiped away by the company's latest announcements adding new administrative features for Google Apps running on iPhones, Windows Mobile devices, and Nokia E series phones, including an all-important remote data wipe feature. While not included in the announcement, Android (News - Alert) is likely to get these additional bells and whistles in the near future.

Google first put its toe in the water for the mobile apps market back in September 2009, when it announced Google Sync with push Gmail system and 2-way sync-ing for calendar and contacts on the aforementioned iPhone (News - Alert), Windows Mobile, and Nokia E series devices. 
Designed for enterprise users, Google charges $50 per year for a Google Apps Premier Edition account and each account includes 250GB of email storage per employee along with the Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Video, and Google Groups; it also includes a 99.9 percent uptime SLA.
The new announcement was made in a February 3 Google Mobile blog posting announcing new administrative controls that give devices mobile access to Google Apps.   Google Apps Premier and Education customers will be able to manage employee mobile devices from the Google Apps admin control panel.  
In addition to the all-important remote wipe feature from lost and stolen smartphones, administrators will be able to set a lock time after a period of inactivity and require device passwords on each phone with the ability to set passwords of minimum lengths and complexity, such as requiring the use of letters, numbers and punctuation in a password. 
While these management features are not currently rolled into Google Android, it is no great stretch of the imagination that they will appear both as a roll-in into the baseline functionality of Android when Google delivers a Nexus One phone for the enterprise and into the administrative side of Google Apps to support Android devices with the appropriately upgraded software.
At CES (News - Alert), Google Android leader Andy Rubin said the next version of the Nexus One would be for enterprise uses and include a physical keyboard. Speculation is that Google would also add support for Exchange ActiveSync for seamless interoperability with Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange server.   
It is likely the company will also look at a more conventional approach to technical support by providing a call center – for an additional fee, no doubt -- in addition to the chat and email mechanisms it has relied upon until its recent “wakeup call” with Nexus One post-sales support. IT staff managing large numbers of phones will want the capability to dial up and talk to a person if something really bad happens.

Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire

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