Google's Online Collaboration Play with Enterprise Apps

Google's suite of productivity applications has been upgraded over the past year to make them more compatible with smartphones, but today the Internet giant unveiled new features that may be critical for mobile IT managers more worried about smartphone security and mobile device management.

Google Apps, which includes Gmail, calendar, and documents apps, was recently updated to sync with the iPhone and Microsoft Windows Mobile handhelds, but largely lacking were features that would mitigate IT concerns.

Today Google is rolling out new administrative control features, for instance, remote wipe and more stringent password protocols, for Google Apps Premier and Google Apps Education users managing iPhone, Nokia E series and Windows Mobile devices, according to a Google mobile blog post by Bryan Mawhinney, mobile software engineer at Google.

The new features will let administrators manage a group of phones from one control panel, at which they can do the following: remotely wipe data from lost or stolen smarthpones; lock idle devices after a period of inactivity; require passwords on each handset; set minimum lengths for more secure passwords; and require passwords to include letters, numbers and punctuation.

"For BlackBerry users, we launched the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server. For Android phones, we announced new Web versions of Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as updates to Google Docs. We also launched Google Sync for iPhone, Nokia E series, and Windows Mobile devices, enabling Google Apps users to access and sync mail, calendar, and contacts from their mobile device to the Google cloud.

"We're expanding these capabilities further by launching new controls that enable administrators to help ensure corporate policy enforcement across a range of mobile devices," said Mawhinney.

The security enterprise features for Google Apps appears to be a push by Google to extend its reach to the mobile enterprise, where Research In Motion has dominated for years with its BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform.

By adding features that give IT more control over corporate mobile devices, Google is sure to make some progress in the online collaboration and messaging arena, though so far, there's no word on when these features will be made available for Android.


Google Apps, enterprise apps, smartphone security, Windows Mobile, online collaboration