Google launches hosted services for businesses

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By  Published  September 8, 2006

Google’s challenge to Microsoft in the office applications sector began in earnest last month with the launchof a range of hosted communications services under the name Google Apps for Your Domain (GAFD).

The service is an expansion of Google’s Gmail for Your Domain service that was launched in February and includes Gmail web e-mail, the Google Talk instant messaging and voice calling service, Google Calendar, and web page design, publishing and hosting application Google Page Creator.

Google is hoping the fact that the services are run over the internet — saving money in both administration and infrastructure costs — will appeal to business users.

“Organisations of all sizes face a common challenge of helping their users communicate and share information more effectively,” said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of enterprise at Google.

“A hosted service like Google Apps for Your Domain eliminates many of the expenses and hassles of maintaining a communications infrastructure, which is welcome relief for many small business owners and IT staffers,” Girouard went on to add.

With GAFD, domain administrators will use a web-based control panel to manage their user account list, set up aliases and distribution lists, and enable the services they want for their domain.

The standard edition of GAFD is available now as a free beta product and a premium version is currently being developed for organisations with more advanced requirements.

The idea of offering services via the internet is one that is being taken seriously by software developers, including firms such as Microsoft.

The software giant is also developing its own line of online applications called Windows Live Essentials and media reports have suggested the vendor is itself in the beta stage of development.

Analyst firm Gartner said it expected Google’s release last month to intensify the pair’s rivalry. “We believe Microsoft is likely to respond aggressively,” it said in a recent online advisory.

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