Google+ comes to the enterprise via Google Apps

Google looks to get business users onboard with its new social network

Google is beginning its big Google+ integration move.

The company announced Thursday that its new social networking site is now integrated with Google Apps, its cloud -based office suite. The news comes just weeks after Google CEO Larry Page said he wants to "transform" the company by integrating its various services with Google+.

"Starting now you can manually turn on Google+ for your organization," wrote Ronald Ho, a Google product manager, in a blog post Thursday. "Google Apps users will have access to the same set of features that are available to every Google+ user, and more. In addition to sharing publicly or with your circles, you'll also have the option to share with everyone in your organization, even if you haven't added all of those people to a circle."

Ho also reported that the company is working on a migration tool for those who began using Google+ from a personal account and now want to use it from their Google Apps account.

"It took more technical work than we expected to bring Google+ to Google Apps, and we thank you for your patience," he added. "This integration is just the beginning. We'll continue to add features and improve the way that Google+ works with Google Apps."

While the social network now works from the Google Apps suite, Google+ hasn't been tweaked for enterprise use, according to a company spokeswoman.

Industry analysts have been expecting Google to add collaboration tools geared to make it easier for users to work together on documents and spreadsheets. And while they also expected applications, like Gmail, Calendar and Docs, to be given social updates within Google Apps, they all generally said they expected Google to beef up the security and privacy levels for enterprise users.

"We're just getting started with Google+ and we'll continue to consider feature requests from our users, which now include businesses using Google Apps," the Google spokeswoman said.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said he's surprised that Google wouldn't make these enterprise-level additions to Google+ before integrating it with Google Apps. It's a move that would prompt enterprise managers to take notice.

"Google fundamentally doesn't understand the enterprise," Enderle said. "IT managers fundamentally didn't trust Google and this showcases why ... Google Apps was [already] in need of stronger quality controls."

This is the first of what is expected to be a series of Google+ integrations. Last month, when Page talked about using Google+ to change the company, he specifically talked about weaving identity and sharing into all of Google's services, including search and maps, for instance.

"Think about it this way," Page said during the company's third-quarter earnings call with analysts. "Last quarter, we shipped the Plus; now we're going to ship the Google part."

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 .

Read more about enterprise web 2.0/collaboration in Computerworld's Enterprise Web 2.0/Collaboration Topic Center.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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