Seven independent software providers have joined forces to make it easier for businesses to find and deploy applications that complement Google Apps.
Known as the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps, the new consortium claims that its collaborative model is a first among vendors in the Google Apps Marketplace — the online web store for applications that dovetail with Mountain View’s online office suite. The Alliance includes Cloud Sherpas (and its SherpaTools application), Expensify, Insightly, Okta, RunMyProcess, SmartSheet, and Spanning.
“It’s such a new space and vendors are open to doing things together,” Cloud Alliance‘s chairman and VP at Cloud Sherpas David Politis tells Wired.com. “The marketplace is so young.”
The members of the alliance handle everything from IT administration, CRM, and security to expense management and project collaboration. Basically, seven different businesses in seven different markets are hoping to secure their hooks into Google Apps — and keep the competition at bay. They hope to do this by integrating their various applications.
For example, while updating a project’s status with Insightly, a user could enter his business lunch appointment into Expensify on the same screen. As Google’s business suite of applications reaches more and more businesses, the consortium stands to make big gains by positioning themselves early as the best of breed for their respective markets.
“Most activity these days is Gmail, Gmail, Gmail. It’s interesting that these players are launching an effort to be seen outside of that,” Tom Austin, an analyst with Gartner, told Wired.
A few questions remain unanswered. First: How — exactly — will these separate businesses play together? It’s one thing to form an alliance on paper. It’s another to put it into practice. Politis notes that at this point, the goal is simply to get the entities in discussion with one another. While they may develop their own engineering standards down the road, the only ones in place now are Google’s.
The group is in discussion about joint pricing models and software packages, but as each are still separate entities, the group will have to come to agreement about time spent on internal versus alliance initiatives.
The Cloud Alliance will open its doors to additional applicants at the start of 2012, but it has yet to decide how two competing app vendors would play together within the consortium. The group wants “best of breed” application on its vendor list, but many niche markets within Google Apps have a few good solutions.
“The idea is to go with a wider net of functionality first,” Politis notes. “But we’re still figuring out how to add additional business.”