One of the key issues for organizations moving to Google for office productivity applications is the ability to enforce policy on end users around sharing outside of the organization. This issue is a good example of the tension that exists between keeping an offering as simple as possible, and ensuring all the bells and whistles that enterprises require are ticked off. In the early days of Google Apps it was easy to categorize Google as the “light is right” offering while Microsoft Office/Sharepoint was the “fully featured but cumbersome” beast. That polarization has changed as Google builds out demanded features.

One way that Google has maintained simplicity while not missing the features that larger organizations need is by the use of third party tools offering specific functionality. Perhaps best known of these is Cloud Sherpas who have had great success with a bunch of administration functionality for Google Apps in their SherpaTools product. Next up to he plate is BetterCloud who are today launching DomainWatch, a security offering for Google Apps users. Based in New York, BetterCloud is run by David Politis, who previously ran the SMB group for Cloud Sherpas.

The idea of DomainWatch is to give IT the ability to monitor, control and secure end-user access specifically to Google Docs, Sites and Calendars. So what does DmainWatch offer? Specific components that this $8/user/year toolkit offers include;

  • Policy Editor and Compliance Analytics: Policy Editor allows admins to specify what’s permitted or not permitted to be shared outside of their domain. DomainWatch monitors domains per admin created policies and flags non-compliant sharing as a violation
  • Dashboard: The dashboard provides a single view of how admins share Docs, Sites and Calendars with people both outside and inside of their domain
  • Asset Search, Filter, Discover: All domain assets can be searched and filtered along nine dimensions, giving admins a comprehensive view into Docs, Sites and Calendars
  • Domain Trends: An automated analysis of all Docs, Sites and Calendars in a domain gives users a complete asset inventory. Multiple domain management allows admins to report and filter by the entire domain or by any sub-domain
  • Security Detective: Search for users or groups with whom documents are shared.  For example, admins can discover which Docs, Sites and Calendars are shared with contractors, so admins may remove access at the completion of a project
  • Take Immediate Action: Remove a specific sharing mode from a Google Site, remove access to Calendars from an external user, or change ownership of a Docs collection.

There is always tensions between partners building features onto a core product, and what the core product itself will introduce. Much of what Google Apps has offered via third party add ons in the past has since been rolled into the core offering and this is something that BetterCloud needs to be wary of. That said, their proposition is a sound one, and as long as they keep innovating there is a big opportunity for them.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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