Google targets business users with cloud, Docs advances

Google made it clear today that it's still going after enterprise users.

After focusing much of its approximately two-and-a-half-hour-long Google I/O keynote on its Android platform and related devices, the company turned its attention to the enterprise with announcements about Google Docs and its cloud service. The changes represent something of a long play to pull in more business from large companies.

"It's really a long-term thing," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "Microsoft Outlook is well-entrenched in almost all large businesses. Google is making a slow progression as an enterprise vendor, but there's no doubt now about the company's commitment to that business."

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Part of Google's enterprise announcements today centered on Google Drive.

Google noted that, as of Wednesday, users get native editing for Office documents from their Android-based mobile devices or from Google Drive, the company's file storage and synchronization service. That means a user can open a Word document, for example, on an Android tablet and edit it without having to stop and convert it to a Google Doc.

The company also touted Google Drive for Work, a business-focused offering that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls for $10 per user per month.

All files now uploaded to Google Drive will also be encrypted, not only between the user's device and Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also while the information is at rest on Google servers.

And for users who having been hoping to create PowerPoint-like presentations on their Android or Apple devices, there's now mobile support for Google Slides, an Android app that enables users to create, edit and collaborate on presentations.

"I think Google Docs is a pretty strong offering for some enterprises -- those that can shake the Outlook habit," said Gottheil.

Google didn't leave the cloud out of its focus on the enterprise, either. The company also introduced the Google Cloud Dataflow, a managed data processing service.

"A decade ago, Google invented MapReduce to process massive datasets using distributed computing," said Greg DeMichillie, director of product management at Google. "Since then, more devices and information require more capable analytics pipelines -- though they are difficult to create and maintain. Today at Google I/O, we are demonstrating Google Cloud Dataflow -- a fully managed service for creating data pipelines that ingest, transform and analyze data in both batch and streaming modes."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said Google is is clearly looking to boost its competitiveness among big data services.

"The big data services are very helpful for companies, as they would be very hard to replicate in your own enterprise," he added. "Google is the master at doing this. Their business is all about big data analytics. The art of knowing what ad or content to present is all about analysis -- some real-time, some batch."

This cloud news is more important to the enterprise, and hence to Google's enterprise push, than its Google Docs changes, according to Moorhead.

"I see the updates to Google Apps as incremental," he said. "Google can be strategic to the enterprise by helping them on analytics in the cloud, not with Google Apps. Google, for the first time, has come to market with a comprehensive, cloud platform play. The icing on the cake is Cloud Dataflow."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Google targets business users with cloud, Docs advances" was originally published by Computerworld .

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