Cloud Sherpas offers additional IT administrative tools that help make it easy to manage the increasingly popular Google Apps platform. The company is riding the momentum of growth today announced over 300,000 end users under management by IT professionals who have depoloyed Cloud Sherpas as part of Google Apps.

To learn more about the current state of affairs IT managers implementing Google Apps, we spoke with company founder, Michael Cohn. He shared with us a few of the insights that led the company to its products and what it means to "be native" within Google.

More Tools, More Google, More Cloud

Cloud Sherpas was one of the first fifty applications in Google Apps marketplace. It has leveraged this position to learn what tools are most needed by administrators of the platform. In the areas of its focus, it has extended the administration functionality of Google Apps to meet processes demanded by corporate clients. The company first product launch was a free tool, now the company is announcing a set of premium services as a companion to the free offering.

Cohn shares his thoughts on the opportunity:

"We're 100% focused on making life easier for Google Apps admins. We think SherpaTools is a great fit for the largest companies and busiest IT pros."

There are several examples of admin tools in the market. Here are a few cited in the Cloud Sherpas press release:

  • Ability to retain data when an employee leaves. Administrators suggested that Google Apps needed a utility to "transition" all the documents from a user when deleted. Cloud Sherpas offers this feature now as a premium feature
  • Enabling the help desk. Cloud Sherpas offers a tool to help manage user accounts without giving full access to the account. This was an area where the practical use of Google Apps in the enterprise demonstrated a need for a new access control feature.
  • Company directory services enabling administrators to add more information about an employee in a central location.

Cloud Sherpas earns revenue by selling Google Apps licenses into new customers. Additionally, the company is offering new premium features for IT Administrators. So far, it looks like the product reviews and show that these services are welcome and the company has delivered on what administrators need.

At least one customer has suggested that Cloud Sherpas become part of the basic Google Apps tools.

Here is an overview of setting up Cloud Sherpas for Google Apps.

Cloud Sherpas is showing that where there are incentives to innovate, companies will. Listening to its corporate clients that are implementing Google Apps, Cloud Sherpas has started to bring Google Apps functionality closer to Microsoft Exchange - without waiting for Google to do it all by itself.

Smooth Edges in the Google Bubble

We wondered what it is like to "be native" in Google Apps.

Cloud Sherpas has chosen to let Google be the identity provider for their own customers who "add" Cloud Sherpas to their existing Google account as part of getting started. This is the default action in the marketplace and it seems to work best when your application is "only" in the Google marketplace.

This approach highlights one of the key decisions that app developers will need to consider when building applications for Google Apps, especially porting applications that may already have user accounts.

The more we learned, the more it becomes clear to the benefits for application developers to choose a platform and optimize for it.

It appears, that the elusive "win-win" can be found in both bringing new customers to Google and for Cloud Sherpas to get a lot of customers by extending Google as needed to win the enterprise.

Is Google Apps knocking on your IT doorstep?