Google + — the web giant’s fledgling social network — is now available to businesses, universities, and schools using Google Apps.
When Mountain View first unveiled its Facebook rival in late June, those with Google accounts tied to the Google Apps suite — a collection of online office applications — were not permitted on the social network. Now, they are — if their administrator activates the service within their particular organization. Once the admin switch is flipped, individual users can sign up at google.com/+.
Google+ is also available to any organization that has chosen to automatically enable any new service pushed onto the suite.
With today’s move, Google joins an ever growing number of companies hoping to shove social networking into the enterprise. Salesforce.com offers its Chatter service. Oracle just introduced the, um, Oracle Social Network. And countless startups are pitching similar tools, including Yammer and Jive.
According to a Google blog post, Google Apps users will have access to all the same Google+ tools as ordinary users, but they’ll also have the option of sharing content with their entire organization — even if they haven’t added individual colleagues to their Google+ “circles.”
Google claims 40 million users on its latest attempt at a social network, and the company says it’s developing a tool that will allows existing users to migrate their Google+ profiles to a Google Apps account. “With this tool, you won’t have to rebuild your circles, and people who’ve already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile,” the company said.
“We expect this migration option to be ready in a few weeks, so if you’d like, you can go ahead and get started with your Apps account today and merge your connections once the tool is available.”
The company indicated that the arrival of Google+ on Google Apps took longer than expected due to unforeseen technical problems. Previously, it had hinted that such a move was on the way. At a mini-conference for CIOs next month in Mountain View, Google intends to further discuss the use of Google+ inside big businesses.