Google Automates Apps With Scripting System

May 28, 2009 (05:05 AM EDT)

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At Google's developer conference on Wednesday, representatives of the company's enterprise group and of several of its enterprise partners introduced a forthcoming scripting system for Google Apps and made the case for cloud computing in a corporate environment.

Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google's enterprise group, said he had been discussing the extent to which Google's developer conference was relevant for businesses and came to the conclusion the distinction between consumer and corporate computing has blurred.

"The line between consumer and enterprise development has completely grayed," he said.

That's not to say that Google dismisses enterprise concerns. Many of the common worries voiced about Google's cloud computing model were mentioned -- the fact some see Google's beta label as a sign its products are unreliable, the perception that Google doesn't offer service level guarantees, and fears about security in the cloud.

Glotzbach dealt with them all. The beta stigma, he said, is an issue Google is aware of, noting that Google's paid offering, Google Apps Premier Edition, isn't designated beta. Google does offer a service level agreement, he said. And worries about security will ease, he insisted, just as people learned to trust banks with their money and to stop keeping cash beneath their mattresses.

Though the line between consumer and enterprise computing may be unclear, Google recognizes the need to meet enterprise-specific requirements. So it was that product manager Jonathan Rochelle introduced Google Apps Script, a new scripting system for Google Apps.

Google Apps Script isn’t yet publicly available. Google plans to offer it to about 1,000 Google Apps customers for testing purposes. The company has posted details on its enterprise blog. At the moment, Google Apps Script allows the creation of scripts to access and change cell data in Google Docs spreadsheets. Eventually, it will allow Calendar event automation, Gmail automation, Web page data fetching, translation, and other functions.

Rochelle expects companies to use Google Apps Scripts for scheduling and procurement, transportation planning, timed purchasing, approval workflows and a variety of other business automation functions. He said the technology should be particularly interesting to integration partners. Indeed, Google's chosen partners at the press event sounded interested. Ed Laczynski, the founder of cloud computing services company LTech, characterized the business potential of the Google ecosystem as "an ocean of opportunity."

What Google is offering, he said, is "really a disruptive thing when you look at the cost comparisons with traditional on–premises collaboration solutions."

This of course is the party line: Google services cost less, do more, and are more secure. It's a mantra Google has been repeating for years. And apparently some companies have gotten the message: According to Glotzbach, the number of organizations bringing 1,000 or more users to Google Apps is growing.

For the developers at Google's conference, that's good news: Developing for the consumer market place can be a gamble, but corporate development typically pays.

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