3 things Google Apps needs to fix... like, NOW

José Olalla

José 'PepeOlalla' Olalla (pictured) seems like a happy camper this week. He's the CIO of the huge banking group, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA). BBVA has just signed a deal with Google, which will see the multinational bank migrate 110,000 users to Google Apps -- the cloud-based collaboration platform. Let's take The Long View...
(by @richi )

This is a huge coup for Google, which is sorely lacking in big reference accounts. Especially in Europe, where privacy regulations are stricter.

We're told that this is just the first of several large deals to be announced, which "will include corporations, government agencies and educational institutions".

In fact it's beginning to look like no public cloud service can meet these FBI rules. As Azaleos' Andy Blevins said when the news broke:

Shared tenant/multi-tenant platforms that are not dedicated to the customer can't meet data segregation requirements. Every law enforcement agency has these requirements.

2. Google accounts are still a mess.
Many, many people with Google Apps accounts also have regular Google accounts. There is still no way to merge them, and trying to juggle two accounts is a frustrating, buggy experience. (Yes, this is bitter personal experience talking.)

Back in October, Google promised that there would be a migration tool to merge a regular account's data into a Google Apps account. The promise was that the tool would be ready in "a few weeks."

So we celebrated the idea that we'd soon be freed from the burden of managing two accounts, working around the dual-account bugs, and the inability of other Google+ users to discover our accounts from our email addresses. Hurrah! Break out the Champagne-style sparking beverage.

False hope came in early November, when Google employees told me that the tool was already publicly available. Sadly, this proved premature.

You guessed it: Here we are, 11 weeks later, and there's still no sign of the wretched thing. Neither is there any word of how much longer we might have to wait.

Indeed, the Google product manager responsible has explicitly said that there is no schedule, joking that he may lose his job over the busted schedule. He then went on to admit that when the migration tool finally breaks cover it won't actually, y'know, migrate all your account data:

I'm the product manager..so if I've still got a job, then we're still working on it.
[It] initially will not move the G+ content. .. I don't have a timeline for the rest.

3. Offline email is still broken
. As I said back in September:

The result ain't pretty. .. I now have to run two Gmail clients. One to get actual work done, and one to work offline. Ridiculous. .. it only works on the Chrome browser. .. There's functionality missing. .. There's no control.
These issues should have been staggeringly obvious to anyone who gave it a moment's critical thought.

Not only that, but the mobile Gmail Android app is one of the buggiest pieces of trash that it's ever been my misfortune to use. And that's saying something.

So what's an enterprise cloud-computing fan supposed to do?
Switch to Microsoft's Office 365?

Probably not, as I mentioned back in June:

Well, you should be fine if you have no mobile users, nor MacOS users. Oh, and if your organization is rich enough for you to have a large budget surplus at the end of each quarter. And you have sufficient, competent staff on-site to manage it (despite it being a cloud service). Not to mention caring little for uptime or security.

Come on, Google. Please don't make me suggest that people should retain their old-fashioned Exchange, Notes, or GroupWise server farms!

Cloud computing for email and collaboration makes perfect sense -- for organizations of all sizes. I've been saying this since the 1990s. It saves you money, it's inevitably more reliable, and the very elastic nature of true cloud computing makes it far more flexible than an in-house Exchange network.

What would you do? Leave a comment below...

Richi Jennings, blogger at large

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. As well as The Long View, he's also the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.  

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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