Google Apps are awesome. Google Docs is excellent for business and school work, Google Voice lets you check if strangers' refrigerators are running worldwide, and everyone and his one-eyed sister has a Gmail account. As it turns out, Google Apps is so full of unadulterated awesome that a lot of the older Web browsers on the market just can't keep up with all the HTML5 goodness. Rather than bend over backwards to support obsolete software, Google's kicking them to the curb.
Google has always touted the collaboration capabilities of its web-based Docs suite. This obviously means that it has something to talk about every time it rolls out a new feature to enhance this particular ability. It has now added “collaborative highlighting” to Docs, which lets users “see the text that other editors are highlighting as they select it.”
According to Peter Solderitsch, a Google Software Engineer, “writing a document collaboratively in Google Docs is like playing a team sport. It’s one thing to see your co-editors’ cursors and know where they are. But to really work well together, it helps to know what they’re about to do. Today we’ve made it much easier to anticipate the changes other editors are about to make.”
Back in April, it launched a new version of Docs with many new real-time collaboration features.
Security firm Symantec on Wednesday announced the launch of its Hosted Endpoint Protection, a new cloud-based product targeting small and medium sized businesses. As Symantec explains it, the new service will make it easier for SMBs to deploy comprehensive security across their network without the need for more hardware or management software.
"As the hosted model for messaging security has become increasingly popular for its ease of management and deployment, organizations are similarly motivated by the reduced complexity that cloud-based services can offer while effectively protecting their endpoint systems," said Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President, Symantec Hosted Services. "Symantec Hosted Endpoint Protection leverages our SaaS expertise to deliver advanced technologies that help protect customer systems without requiring additional hardware, management software, or dedicated IT staffing."
Some of the features include always-on protection for Endpoints, a Web-based management console, the ability to add new computers without requiring on-site management servers, automatic updates, scalability, and the speed at which the service can be deployed via email invitation or silently pushed to the customer's network, Symantec says.
NASA, whose head is always in the clouds (and beyond), is looking to create one in the form of a SaaS interface to help students and scientists trying to put together complex climate models.
"Right now the climate models that we have are very complex, the software is upwards of 500,000 to 1 million lines of code," says Michael Seablom, head of the software integration and visualization office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
The problem, says Seablom, is that if you're a graduate student, you could spend months at a time just trying to get the model running and verifying that it's working right. With that in mind, NASA wants to build a Web portal that users would log onto and be able to run climate models on remote systems provided by NASA.
To do that, NASA's climate modeling teams will take some processing cycles from NASA's Nebula cloud computing platform and might someday purchase computing cycles from public cloud platforms.
"I hate to use the term 'cloud computing' because I've heard the term so much and I'm sick of it," Seablom says. "But the fact of the matter is this is a very good cloud computing model and we're going to save a lot of money doing it. I'm very excited."
According to a new IDC report, the SaaS BI market is set to explode in 2010 and beyond with a compound annual growth rate of 22.4 percent through 2013. The reason? A combination of increased product sophistication, tight IT budgets, and other factors.
"The more applications (therefore BI data sources) are moved into the cloud, the fewer reasons there may be to build and operate BI applications in-house," said Boris Evelson, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Evelson went on to say that there are a lot of good reasons to adopt SaaS BI, such as making front-office workers more productive. But it can also be useful for some larger companies. To give an example, Forrester points to an unnamed retailer that does 90 percent of its business during the holidays. For most of the year, the company handles its own BI and reporting, but towards the end of the year, the company turns to a SaaS vendor to help handle the influx of numbers.
Clio is one of the new wave of cloud-based software solutions (SaaS, or Software as a Service). It is designed for attorneys, allowing solo practitioners or small firms to manage all aspects of the their practice online, through a web-based interface. Clio is expanding access to its software through mobile applications, allowing access from smartphones.
According to market research firm Gartner, worldwide software as a service (SaaS) revenue is on pace to reach $7.5 billion in 2009. That's a big turnaround from 2008 -- 17.7 percent, to be exact -- when revenue fell flat at $6.4 billion.
"The adoption of SaaS continues to grow and evolve within the enterprise application markets," said Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner. "The composition of the worldwide SaaS landscape is evolving as vendors continue to extend regionally, increase penetration within existing accounts and ‘greenfield’ opportunities, and offer more-vertical-specific solutions as part of their service portfolio or through partners."
But that's not the only good news. Gartner says the market will show consistent growth at least through 2013, by which time SaaS revenue is expected to exceed $14 billion in the enterprise sector.
This week, Adobe converted its Acrobat.com online service, introduced last year, from beta to production status, and rolled out two extra-cost upgrades while continuing to offer a free version. All versions of Acrobat.com include Adobe's Buzzword online word processing, but other features differ:
The free version can create up to five PDF files, allows up to 100 downloads per file, supports web conferences for up to three users, and provides tech support through moderated forums.
For $14.99/month or $149/year, you can upgrade to Premium Basic, which enables users to create up to 10 PDF files per month with unlimited downloads, web conferences for up to five users, and premium one-on-one phone chat tech support. Upgrade by July 16 to a one-year subscription, and save $15.
Upgrade to Premium Plus, the high-end service, for $39/month or $390/year, and get unlimited PDF creation and downloads, web conferences for up to 20 users, and premium one-on-one phone chat tech support. Upgrade by July 16 to a one-year subscription, and save $50.
There are also a couple of new goodies at Acrobat.com Labs for all Acrobat.com users. To learn more, join us after the jump.
Google Apps reached a major milestone in September last year, when it raced past the 1 million enterprise users mark. But the huge lead that its arch rival MS Office enjoys meant that the achievement was just worthy of a perfunctory pat on the back. Now Google has taken a major step that might help popularize Google Apps among business users and help it trim Microsoft’s huge lead to a small extent.