A key theme for Google in the enterprise is collaboration. It is the reason many companies adopt Google technologies, and a recurring theme in sales discussions with prospective clients.
Using Google for unstructured collaboration centred around an individual is straightforward - there are many solutions offered for this, from Google Docs, Google Sites and more recently Google+. But when it comes to structured collaboration - the idea that the environment you are providing needs to have some level of governance and organization - Google offers more challenges than solutions.
While structured collaboration is not entirely aligned with the philosophy of working in the Google Cloud, it is one that makes sense for large organizations. These organizations have many thousands or tens of thousands of employees, hundreds of millions of pieces of content, and lots of potential for things to get out of control. And many large organizations have adapted to using structured tools like Sharepoint, IBM InfoXChange communities and other collaboration platforms, and aren’t ready to give up these ways of working just yet.
So the challenge is - how do I make structured collaboration in Google work in my enterprise?
White Stratus has recently used three different, but equally successful, approaches to solving this problem for our clients, and over the coming weeks, we will be demonstrating, via case studies and webinars, each of these solutions.
The first approach is a lightweight solution using Google Apps Script to automate the creation of a structured environment in Google Apps. This solution is being used to move 2000 project teams off the IBM InfoXChange product for a client of ours with 20,000 employees. Apps Script does have limitations, but when approached correctly, it can be a valuable tool to rapidly build solutions. In this case, we created an automated request queuing process that generates and configures a standardized collaboration environment. This includes Google Groups for permissions and discussion, a Drive folder for content, a shared Calendar for events, and a Google Site to present an aggregated view to all of a team’s users.
In the second approach to meet the needs for an enterprise-wide intranet-style collaboration environment, we did a face-off between Google Sites and Google Cloud Platform. Sites is great for rapid, low cost deployments but pushing the boundaries to meet enterprise intranet requirements leads to performance issues. Google Cloud Platform brings Enterprise scale and stability, but development costs can be higher, and there are the transactional costs of running an application on the Google Cloud Platform. How did we decide between these two options? We didn’t! We built identical intranets on Sites and Cloud and put them in a ring together to see what happened. The results will be revealed in our webinar: Google Apps vs Google Cloud: a face off!
The third approach to supporting Structured Collaboration in the Google environment lead us to StratuSphere - an enterprise-ready architecture for building applications in a Google-centric way, on the Google Cloud Platform. Large enterprises are increasingly looking to move on-premise applications into the cloud, and the key to doing this in a Google-centric way, is not to just move them, but to leverage the inherent benefits offered by the Google Platform. Architect for multiple mobile devices, including Glass, design functionality around Google APIs, like Search, Prediction and BigQuery, and do it in a way that maximizes re-usable code across the organization, while also minimizing the transactional costs of operating on Google infrastructure. Sound easy? No… well it isn’t, but the StratuSphere solution has been used to balance the multiple objectives for our clients, and will be discussed in our webinar about architecting for the cloud.
Stay tuned for more information and case studies on all three of these collaboration solutions to see which is best suited to your requirement.
Written by Tim Drury, CEO at White Stratus. For more information visit www.whitestratus.com.