Google readies Google+ for push into the enterprise

Vic Gundotra says integration imminent but analysts say a lot of work to be done

Google looks close to unleashing Google+ on the enterprise.

Earlier this month, CEO Larry Page said he wants Google+ to "transform" the company, while another Google exec said this week that part of that transformation is imminent.

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit this week in San Francisco, Vic Gundotra, a Google engineering senior vice president, noted that Google+, the company's new social network, soon will be integrated with Google Apps, the company's cloud-based office suite. The company on Thursday accidentally leaked information on the update to Gmail, which is a key feature of Google Apps.

All signs point to big changes coming not only for Google+ but for Google Apps. A Google spokeswoman on Friday would only say that the company is "working fast and furiously" to bring features in Google+ to Google Apps. She declined to say when the integration would take place.

"If I were a betting man, I'd bet that the enterprise is their target," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "I think that they've positioned Google+ as more enterprisey than Facebook. With Google+'s ability to be more selective about setting up different circles, corporate users could set up circles for different customers, colleagues or business associates."

He added that while Google is focused on social networking, the company also has set its sights squarely on the enterprise. By combining Google+ and Google Apps, the company could pull its two focuses together.

"Google sees socialization and collaboration as the obvious way to gain even more market share and mind share in their lines of business," Olds said. "It's all interrelated with them, I think. Their apps will all tie in together with the collaboration people can do with Google+, and it all ties to search."

Olds and other industry analysts said they would expect to see some enterprise-related updates made to Google+ to get it ready for corporate use. For instance, collaboration tools designed to make it easy to share work projects like spreadsheets, documents and pictures would be basic additions.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, also noted that the many applications within Google Apps, such as Gmail, Calendar and Docs, will have to be socially enabled to make the integration work.

"Aside from that, Google will need to apply all of its security, privacy and governance to the task of managing Google+ data," he said, adding that he's not at all surprised to hear Google is working to quickly push Google+ toward enterprise users.

"For Google to prosper within the enterprise marketplace, it must make Google+ a part of its Google Apps for Business portfolio," said Shimmin. "It is a natural evolution for the product that follows a well-worn path trod by so many Google products such as Gmail and Docs."

With so much to do to get Google+ ready for the enterprise, Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said he's not surprised that Google is working on a quick integration. But he will be surprised if the company does it well.

"Certainly it's part of a strategy to tie them all together and an important part of [Google's] future," Enderle said. "But I think they should be spending more time assuring the success, security and quality of their products before they focus on... connecting them."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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