Today we're releasing two enhancements to Google Apps Directory Sync, a tool that helps businesses synchronize the user and directory information in their LDAP systems with Google Apps. These changes complement the improvements to contacts in Google Apps that we announced a few weeks ago.

Now Google Apps Directory Sync not only helps synchronize employee contact information, but also information for non-employees that are listed in the central LDAP directory. This way, employees can easily look up and contact important customers, partners and vendors, too.

This release also expands the list of contact fields that can be synchronized between an LDAP system and Google Apps. Rich user profile information like multiple phone numbers, addresses and job titles are now supported, making full profiles easily accessible by employees.

Companies and schools using Google Apps Premier and Education Editions can learn more and get started with Google Apps Directory Sync here:

Posted by Navneet Goel, Product Manager, Google Apps team

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We wanted to share a quick update regarding the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which we pre-announced in May. We've been working hard to make this feature publicly available in Google Apps Premier Edition and Education Edition, and a significant number of our customers have been actively using and testing the Apps Connector over the last several months. The feature is very close to being ready for prime time, and as we move toward the finish line it's looking like the Apps Connector will be launched in August, not July as previously hoped.

We're sorry for this delay. We know many of you are excited about this integration with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to test and finalize over the next few weeks.

Posted by Raju Gulabani, Product Management Director

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Editor's note: Last Friday marked the third anniversary of the release of Virtual Alabama, an innovative information-sharing program in the state of Alabama. Built upon Google Earth Enterprise, Virtual Alabama has become a true leader in promoting collaboration among the different agencies that fulfill government's many roles – from disaster preparedness and response to the environment, from education to economic development, and much more. We invited Chris Johnson, program manager for Virtual Alabama, to provide an update.

July 24, 2009 marked the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 astronauts' return from the first successful Moon landing, and also marked the third anniversary of Virtual Alabama – the state’s implementation of Google Earth Enterprise technology to provide government agencies with a statewide common operating picture.

It’s hard to believe that in the three short years since Virtual Alabama went "live," our user base has expanded to beyond 5,000 users. More interestingly is that number represents users in more than 1,450 agencies at every level of government.

As we celebrate one of America’s greatest scientific achievements, I am reminded of a quote from Dr. Wernher von Braun (chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle which carried man to the Moon) when asked by a reporter, “What was the most difficult thing about going to the Moon?...” His reply? “The willingness to do so."I have to say that the same has been true about Virtual Alabama.

One of the most gratifying aspects of working on Virtual Alabama is the diversity of our audience. Virtual Alabama has leveled the playing field for users across all 67 counties in our state. But more interesting, it is the assortment of agencies that the program serves – literally everyone from high-level law enforcement to the local animal control specialist and everyone in between. This diversity is key to providing such a rich and robust data set. I am often amused when federal agency representatives tell me they have seen Virtual Alabama demonstrated by their counterparts at a state or local agency and they say, “I thought Virtual Alabama was a product of that agency." You see, every agency feels that Virtual Alabama is THEIR program and was created specifically with them in mind.

But the beauty is that collaboration on such a massive scale allows Virtual Alabama to serve us all equally – regardless of size, resources, technical background or geography.

Every day, agencies in every locality diligently collect, correct, and analyze data turning it into the most accurate, up to date and useful information on the planet.

We have learned from them that the best data resides at the local level. Without their willingness to collaborate, Virtual Alabama would not exist. These efforts continue to make a tremendous difference in the lives of our fire fighters, law enforcement, and first responders and their ability to protect the citizens of Alabama. Those efforts are also making a difference in our ability to manage our cities and communities more effectively.

Our federal counterparts are taking notice and today over 100 federal agencies use the Virtual Alabama system. Alabama led the way as the first state to have a statewide common operating picture. Our neighbors are now following that lead and establishing Virtual States. Virtual states include Virtual Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Hawaii and Texas which all have similar programs to provide their respective government agencies with information to protect their citizens. Currently, we are working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a collaborative partnership with 8 other states to develop the Concept of Operations for Virtual USA.

Take a look at Virtual Alabama here:

It's exciting to think about what we might accomplish with Virtual Alabama as we celebrate future anniversaries. We're sure that progress will continue, as all on the Virtual Alabama team are "willing to do so."

– Chris Johnson, VP of Geospatial Technologies, US Space & Rocket Center

Posted by Dan Israel, Google Enterprise team

Like many of you, I use tools like Google Reader to keep up with and share interesting tidbits on the web. These services deliver the content that matters most to me in a convenient and timely format. In that spirit, we're happy to announce that starting today you can add an RSS feed for the Apps Status Dashboard, letting you receive performance status updates for Apps products in any of the 25 languages the Dashboard supports.

Visit the Apps Status Dashboard at and click on the RSS icon at the bottom right to get the feed in the same language you see when using the Dashboard. Every post to the Dashboard will trigger a post to the feed. To keep you updated, each post to the feed will include all the messages and updates pertaining to the corresponding Dashboard event. That way you won't need to dig through your feed history to piece together how things are progressing.

We know how much our users appreciate the transparency that the Apps Status Dashboard provides, and we hope the
RSS feed enables them to get performance status information about the applications they care about in an efficient way.

Posted by Tony
Scelfo, Software Engineer, Google Apps team

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Editor's note: We’re pleased to welcome Bryan MacDonald, Chief Technology Officer at the School Systems group of Pearson – an international media company specializing in education, business information, and consumer publishingas our guest blogger today. Pearson has integrated Google Maps API Premier into their flagship student information systems, PowerSchool® Premier and Chancery® SMS. With Google Maps, districts and schools can easily and accurately identify geographic boundaries and assign students to the correct districts.

As a global leader in education and education technology, Pearson develops student information systems (SIS) used by district and school administrators and teachers to perform functions such as scheduling, enrollment, attendance, grading, and reporting. Here at Pearson, we've recently integrated Google Maps technology into PowerSchool Premier Version 6 and Chancery SMS Version 7, both of which were released last month.

Pearson's customers rely on our product to manage their student enrollment process smoothly and efficiently.
With the integration of Google Maps API Premier, users can create their school and district boundaries within the system, and use information on students to easily confirm that these students are appropriately enrolled in the correct schools.

Unlike the technology used in most other SIS applications, which requires complex definitions based on latitude and longitude coordinates,Google’s technology makes boundary definition as easy as drawing lines on a map with a virtual pen. We’ve also created a process that will allow our customers’ existing student addresses to be entered into the system in one easy step. This is a significant breakthrough and timesaver for school districts across the country, and the data integration also helps ensure that the school system can communicate important information such as report cards and newsletters to students and their families.

You can see how it works in this video:

Google Maps will revolutionize the way our customers manage their address data. They'll now be able to easily manage it from within their Pearson SIS and won't have to maintain separate databases, which are frequently prone to error. Through our address verification process, customers will reduce returned mail and associated printing and mailing costs.

Additionally, access to Google Maps technology provides this critical functionality in an intuitive format, delivering an ease-of-use breakthrough compared to the typical address technology in other systems.

At Pearson, we believe that the integration of Google Maps will provide our products with the competitive advantage that truly makes a difference for today’s educators. We’re excited to partner with Google, and we look forward to more opportunities in the future. For more information on Pearson School Systems and our SIS products, visit us here.

Bryan MacDonald, CTO, School Systems Group, Pearson

Posted by Colleen Horan, Google Enterprise team

Robert H.A. Moore recognized that he couldn't go it alone. As a student drafting proposals for the University of Southern California Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Moore realized that, even at the undergraduate level, collaboration was essential for politics and content. So Moore turned to multiple Google applications to help manage proposals, reports and projects developed with the input of more than 70 individuals in the USG offices. Moore, like other USC students, has used Google Apps Education Edition to communicate and collaborate with other students and faculty since USC launched Google Apps in late 2007.

USC isn't the only Los Angeles-area school that's using Google Apps. Today we'd also like to hail Pepperdine University, and Loyola Marymount University (LMU), which – in addition to USC – are all offering Google Apps for Education to students. While we see schools adopting Apps worldwide, this trend demonstrates LA schools are at the head of the class in regard to making the most of the benefits of cloud computing.

Universities choose Google Apps for a variety of reasons.
Pepperdine University Chief Information Officer Dr. Timothy Chester echoes the importance of leveraging Google scale to run Pepperdine's communication and collaboration through Google Apps. "Google Apps allows us to tap into economies of scale that we simply can't create on our own," Chester notes. "Furthermore, it aligns our capabilities with the stream of innovation in the cloud." When Pepperdine's 10,000+ students arrive back at school this fall, they'll be able to use Google Apps with each other and with faculty and staff – just as Robert has been doing at USC.

In addition, when schools switch to Apps, Google takes care of all the hardware and security maintenance, so IT departments can focus on more interesting projects rather than fighting fires.

While universities and other schools represent some of the largest organizations using cloud computing suites like Google Apps Education, businesses and government agencies at all levels are moving cloud-ward as well. Large businesses including Genentech, Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor, and Valeo are all in the cloud. The City of Washington DC rolled out Google Apps to 38,000 city employees last year and the Obama administration encouraged cloud computing in the FY2010 budget report as innovative technology that also helps save money.

Pepperdine, LMU, and USC are some of the pillars of higher education in Los Angeles and it's exciting to see them adopting cloud computing. It's great for Southern California, and is also a microcosm of the rest of the education world. The next generation of professionals is learning not only in the classroom, but in the cloud as well.

Posted by Miriam Schneider, Google Apps Education Team

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RSS feed or email alerts.

Updated 07/27/2009 to more accurately represent university partnerships.

Today, we're thrilled to host more than 150 Enterprise customers and partners at Google headquarters for the second annual Google Earth Enterprise user forum. This event is an opportunity to hear the latest news about the 3.2 release of Google Earth Enterprise and other Google innovations directly from our product managers and engineers, to learn from customers like the US Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans about how they're using the product, and to exchange ideas.

The people at this user forum come from the federal government, state and local governments across the country, and a range of companies, large and small. They've travelled from as far away as Asia and Europe (not to mention the east coast) to be here. All with one thing in common: putting the power of Google Earth to work to make information accessible within their organizations in an intuitive, visual way.

At Google, we have a firm belief that our customers are the most important source of feedback about our products. We look forward to a productive dialog about what's working with Google Earth Enterprise, and what we can do better.

Welcome to Mountain View, Google Earth Enterprise users! We're glad to have you here.

Posted by Dan Israel, Product Marketing Manager, Google Earth Enterprise

Last week we announced we will begin globally offering email security free to current and new eligible K-12 Google Apps Education users that opt-in by July 2010 – and starting today eligible schools can learn how to opt-in to enable Google Message Security for their domain.

Google Message Security – powered by Postini – provides the capability for administrators to limit messages based on who they are from, where they are going, or the content they contain. Message rules can be applied to groups of users, allowing customization for different user sets (like younger students, older students, and teachers).

To further celebrate our support of K12, we launched the Google Apps Education Community site for educators and students to share and learn more about Google Apps, as well as the Google Apps Education resource center with more than 20 classroom-ready lesson plans – and we're committed to providing even more educational resources in the future, as the Google Apps Education community grows.

If you know of a K-12 school or educator who might benefit from this opportunity, please share this post with them. Many thanks for your ongoing support of Google Apps in education.

Posted by Dana Nguyen, Google Apps Education team

We view Google Apps for Education as both a product and a platform. That's why we work hard to open up lots of integration points, letting our tools interact with other systems used by our Education customers.

For example, we've supported work that has integrated Google Apps into
environments such as Moodle. We also share a large number of APIs to allow integration into our user management system, and many of our individual apps like Google Docs and Google Calendar.

Because we care so much about integration, we were excited to discover that Northwestern University has been working to integrate Google Apps Education Edition with Blackboard, one of the predominant providers of educational technology. Northwestern was one of the first schools to deploy Google Apps in 2007; it joined our Higher Education Customer Advisory Board as a founding member later that year.

This week at the BB World conference, Northwestern is unveiling a Blackboard Building Block called "Bboogle" that they have built and are releasing to the community as open source. Building Block includes single sign-on, automated account provisioning, and automated sharing of Google Documents and Calendars through Blackboard course sites.

According to Jonathan Smith, Software Architect at Northwestern, "I initiated our Google integration project because we were approached by a faculty member in anthropology who had been using Google Apps in his classes. In the past we had used wikis in history classes to allow students to work directly with primary source materials, and it occurred to me that Google Apps could support a much higher level of student and faculty collaboration. By integrating the applications into Blackboard we could make that kind of collaborative learning experience available to more of our students than ever before."

These images show the process of creating a link to a Google document....

...and the resulting link in the BlackBoard course site:

We love to see customers and partners innovating and integrating with our products. The power of Google Apps comes not only from Google's applications, but the ability to integrate them with other environments our customers use. Incorporating Google Docs and Sites into systems likeMoodle and Blackboard make it easier for student and professors to collaborate seamlessly.

Thanks to the team at Northwestern for this integration, and for opening it up for others to use. It's still early days, and Northwestern is still polishing the code, but check it out and let us know what you think.

Posted by Gabe Cohen, Product Manager, Google Apps team

Over the last year, Gmail Labs has let Apps early adopters try out a range of experimental instantly translating emails in other languages to undoing send on a potentially regrettable email, Gmail Labs provides a home for features that aren't quite ready for prime time, and gives the Gmail team an opportunity to get users' feedback on different features, quickly iterate on feature designs, and see what's popular with users. One feature that's been popular with users is about to graduate from Gmail Labs today: Tasks.

Using Tasks no longer requires enabling from the Labs tab. Now, just click "Tasks" under "Contacts" in the left
nav of your Gmail account. To learn about the latest updates to Tasks, check out the Gmail team's announcement.

Given the success and popularity of Gmail Labs, we're now making Labs available in Google Calendar. Google Calendar Labs will not only make it possible for us to release experimental Calendar features early and often to users, but the new Calendar API will also let Google Apps enterprise customers extend calendaring capabilities in highly specialized and custom ways that meet the needs of their business and employees.

For Apps domains that have the "Turn on new features" option checked in the Google Apps Control panel, users can see the new Labs page in "Settings" upon logging into Google Calendar. Today's launch of Calendar Labs includes six new features, and as with Gmail, there is a feedback link to discuss these features and suggest new ones.

Both Tasks and Google Calendar Labs will be rolling out to Google Apps domains throughout the course of the day, so if you don't notice these features now, you should see them later today.

Posted by Ken Norton, Calendar Product Manager, Google Apps team

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What do Fairchild Semiconductor, Hamilton Beach, JohnsonDiversey and Valeo have in common? Together they migrated nearly 50,000 Lotus Notes users to Google Apps.

Today we're making it easier for Lotus Notes users to switch to Google Apps. We're releasing a new tool, Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes, that migrates mail, calendar and contacts quickly and easily.
The tool is a native Notes application and key features include:
  • Easy deployment Centrally administered server side migration process. No user intervention needed
  • No downtime Users can continue to use Notes even during the migration process. After they're migrated, Gmail will open Notes links in Lotus Notes
  • Global efficiency Migrate multiple offices simultaneously or separately. Assign administration controls at the organization and the office level as needed
  • Trackable reports Centralized event logging to manage & monitor migration across any number of Domino servers and sites
See it in action in this short video:

These features and more make Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes a simple and complete way to quickly switch your users to Google Apps. JohnsonDiversey used the tool in its recent migration of 10,000 employees, and the video below captures CIO Brent Hoag's satisfaction with the deployment process.

Google partner CapGemini relied on the tool to migrate Valeo, a 30,000-employee automotive supplier. As CapGemini IT Project Lead Philippe Bonnemains says, "We used it for Valeo and for several other enterprise customers. Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes is clearly a great solution for Notes-based companies that want to quickly and efficiently provide users with continuity of mail archives, contacts and calendars, while moving to Google Apps."

If you'd like help with the migration process, or with overall project planning, deployment and training, several Google partners are ready to provide products and services to address your specific needs. If you're thinking about migrating your Domino applications to the cloud, this migration whitepaper will help guide your analysis.

If you're considering switching your users from Lotus Notes to Google Apps, talk to our sales team or sign up for a trial now. Or, if you're already a Google Apps Premier or Education Edition customer and want to migrate today, you can can learn more or download the migration tool here.

Posted by Chris Vander Mey, Senior Product Manager, Google Enterprise

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We're constantly adding useful and interactive functionality to our enterprise products, and Google Earth Enterprise is no exception. Today we're announcing the latest release of Google Earth Enterprise: version 3.2. Google Earth Enterprise allows customers to build private globes on their secure networks using the same technology that powers the public Google Earth. Version 3.2 delivers new features that allow government agencies and other organizations to apply the recent advances in the public version of Google Earth, such as historical imagery and underwater terrain, to their own data and operations.

Version 3.2 gives Google Earth Enterprise users the option of using a browser to view and interact with their private globes using the Google Earth API. This delivers the same fast, familiar, 3-D navigation that users get from Google Earth – but within a web browser rather than the standard client.

Another new addition is historical imagery in Google Earth Enterprise, making it easy for employees to view how a place or region has changed over time. Many of our customers have archives of imagery of a property or point of interest taken over a series of days, years – even decades. The 3.2 release allows customers to time-stamp the imagery, tracking changes over time to provide a handy historical reference.

With the new release, customers also have the option to build Mercator imagery tiles for any 2-D maps they create with Google Earth Enterprise. Mercator is a commonly used conformal projection for viewing tiles in the browser. The new release allows customers to easily overlay their tiles on top of Google's basemap for a 2-dimensional mashup of their own internal data and Google's. (Thanks again to Gerardus Mercator and his great work on the Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigatium Emendate in 1569!)

We've also added support for Enterprise users to process their own sub-surface terrain data, also known as bathymetry – something we shared in the public Google Ocean launch in February 2009. Using the Earth API or latest Google Earth Enterprise client, you can now navigate below sea level to visualize that data in your organization's globe too.

Customers who want to access Google Earth Enterprise 3.2 can email for upgrade information. Not using GEE yet? See what Google Earth Enterprise has to offer.

Posted by Dylan Lorimer, Product Manager, Google Earth Enterprise

Last week, I looked up directions to the hotel in Sacramento that I had booked for the Fourth of July weekend. As I had never been to that part of the state before, I was puzzled by the limited directions offered by their website - I had no idea whether I was approaching from the North, South, East or West or where the major highways were. What I needed were step-by-step directions from my exact starting point to the hotel that I could easily print and go.

With the new directions gadget from Google Maps, any business can offer just that. This simple gadget allows webmasters to add customized Google Maps directions to their business locations. With the directions gadget, you no longer need to type and update multiple sets of text directions. Let's face it: customers are only looking for directions from their specific location.

Google has made this process easy for you. The gadget allows you to pre-fill the "To" field with one or multiple addresses, a generic zip code or even a specific set of latitude-longitude coordinates. Customers are able to print their directions with a single click. And if they would prefer not to drive, the gadget also provides walking and public transit directions.

Take a look at how Legoland California, Emeril Lagasse, and Harvard University are using the gadget. And then test and create your own directions gadget here. For the many locations outside of the US, the gadget is available in 23 different languages.

If you're interested in learning more, head over to the Google
Lat Long blog for a more detailed walk-through of the gadget's features.

Posted by Julie Zhou, Product Marketing Manager, Google Maps team

We've heard some questions about why the link to Google Apps Standard Edition disappeared from the Enterprise Apps home page, so we wanted to share the answer. As we explored a few design changes to the page, the link to Standard Edition was inadvertently dropped, although the free version of Apps was, as always, available here. We've put the link back where it belongs so that it's easy to find.

We have no intention of eliminating
Standard Edition, and we apologize for any confusion.

In other news, we've taken Google Apps out of beta today.
You can read more about that here.

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RSS feed or email alerts.

Google Apps has always been a compelling offering for small and medium sized companies, and they've accounted for much of our growth to 1.75 million businesses. Large enterprises can also get great results with Apps, as Fairchild Semiconductor and the dozens of other big companies that have Gone Google have discovered. Still, we appreciate that there have been some boulders along the road to adoption for the largest businesses in the world.

Since the beginning of the year, we've focused on making it as easy as possible for those large enterprises to switch to Google, and offline access, BlackBerry and Microsoft Outlook support, and
enterprise contact management were the dynamite that cleared the road to Apps.

Today we're paving the road. We're taking the beta label off of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk to remove any doubt that Apps is a mature product suite.

We're also launching a tool that will be particularly useful to administrative support staff to screen and send email on behalf of others – a feature called email delegation. And to help customers comply with regulations that may exist specific to their industry, we're adding email retention so that IT administrators can set up policies to determine when email will be purged. Both retention and delegation are in testing with customers, and will start rolling out to all Premier edition domains over the next weeks.

Finally, we're continuing to implement additional procedures to ensure that our business customers enjoy even greater reliability: live replication of data to other locations for near-instant disaster recovery, and special handling of business users
' data in our data center operations.

While we believe these features will be most useful to big companies, we hope they'll also help today's small business grow into tomorrow's global enterprise.
To complement these new features, enterprise IT managers can access tools for switching to Google Apps in our Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes resource centers.

Posted by Rajen Sheth, Senior Product Manager, Google Apps

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Since we launched the public template gallery last year for Google Docs, people who use Google Apps have been asking if they could have their own template galleries to share templates (everything from branded presentation designs to document letterhead to spreadsheet templates) with their co-workers.

Today, we've enabled these template galleries for Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers. Anyone in your domain can submit templates created in Google Docs to your organization's own gallery. These templates will not be visible outside of your company domain. Templates can be any of the four document types in Docs (documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and even forms). Other people you work with can preview, use (making a copy of that template as a new document in their own account), and rate your templates.

Just like in the public template gallery, you'll be able to sort and narrow the templates by usage, rating, and document type. Administrators can also create categories of templates for the domain (for example: by function, region, or department) to keep templates organized.

Within Google, the most popular templates have been technical design documents and Google-branded presentation layouts. Teachers might share templates with other teachers in their school or district. For example, a teacher might submit a "Getting to Know You" form to send to students when school starts next year, and other teachers could use the template and customize it for their own classroom. Non-profits could create grant proposal templates that would give their employees a common starting point for proposals.

To submit a template, follow these steps:
  1. Go to Google Docs from within your Google Apps account
  2. Click New > From template to view your company's private gallery
  3. On the upper right-hand side, click the "Submit a template" link
A few final notes: This feature is available in Google Apps Premier Edition and Education Edition only, and is available in all languages supported by Google Apps. Admins can configure the templates gallery service from within the Apps control panel (Control panel > Service settings > Docs > Templates).

Posted by Valerie Blechar, Software Engineer, Google Apps team

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Organizing email can be a challenge, especially in the workplace where it's not uncommon to get hundreds of messages a day. In Gmail, labels are key to organizing, archiving and filtering messages, so we've made a number of improvements to make labels more accessible and easier to organize.

New location
Labels are now located above the chat list in Gmail, grouped with default labels like Inbox and Drafts for quicker access (no more scrolling for those of us who keep a large chat list).

Hide and show
If you have labels that you don't regularly click on, you can hide them so they only appear when you click the "more" link. That way, your left nav is only filled with labels you consider to be a priority. Show, hide or delete labels by clicking the down-arrow to the left of a label.

To make changes to multiple labels at a time, go to the "Labels" tab under "Settings" where you can edit labels in bulk.

Drag and drop
We've added drag and drop capabilities that let you do a few things:
  • Hide and show labels by dragging and dropping them in and out of "more"
  • Instead of using the "Move to" button, drag messages into a label to label and archive in one step.
  • Instead of using the "Label" button, drag a label onto selected messages.
These updates are available across all editions of Google Apps.

For more details on this launch, check out the Gmail Team's announcement.

Posted by Joyce Sohn, Product Marketing Manager, Google Apps team

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Today, we're happy to announce updates to contacts in Google Apps: new features that many of our enterprise customers have been asking for.

For starters, we've launched a new API that, when combined with the existing shared contacts API, gives administrators the ability to maintain an updated and detailed global address list in Google Apps.

We've also updated the Contacts interface throughout the Google Apps suite – particularly in Gmail – making it easier for employees to find and start collaborating with all other users on their company domain.

Global address list management
These GData APIs let administrators maintain and manage their company's global address list in Google Apps.

Administrators can retrieve and update profile information for all users on a company domain, giving companies the option to provide rich user information to make it easier for employees to find and contact each other.

Shared contacts API
This API (launched in December of 2008) lets administrators perform all of the above, but for users who do not have accounts provisioned in Google Apps, ensuring that all users (not just those with a Google Apps account) are accounted for in the company's global address list.

These APIs are available exclusively to Google Apps Premier Edition customers.

Enhancements to Contacts
Until today, the only entries that would appear in Contacts in Gmail were those that the user had either explicitly added or had previously emailed. Starting today, when you search for a name, you'll see relevant results from your company's entire global address list, not just people you've emailed with in the past.

We've also made some improvements to the Contacts interface. When administrators add user details (job title, office location, department, cost center, etc.) through the APIs above to the company's global address list, the additional information provided will also display, making it easier for users to get in touch with each other. This also ensures that you get the most updated contact for everyone in your company.

Posted by Florian Niemann, Engineer, Google Apps team

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UPDATE: Please note that these changes are enabled for users of Google Apps Premier Edition and for users of Google Apps Education Edition. We apologize for the omission of educational users in our original post.

Editor's Note: The spam data cited in this post is drawn from the network of Google email security and archiving services, powered by Postini, which provide email security to more than 50,000 organizations, including businesses of all sizes, government agencies, and educational institutions. To learn more about what the Gmail team is doing to keep spam out of your inboxes, check out this post.

Our "Spam Trend" update last quarter summarized the rise in both levels and types of spam, with new players and techniques entering the market. This quarter, proliferation continues, with an unpredictable pattern of drops and spikes as 2009 moves along. Overall, spam is measurably up: Q2'09 average spam levels are 53% higher than in Q1'09 and 6% higher than in Q2'08.

After last November's McColo ISP takedown, when spam volumes dropped by 70%, spammers worked overtime to fill the void. They succeeded: Within four months, spam levels rose back to pre-McColo levels. This upward trend continued through June 4, when another large ISP spam source, 3FN, was reported to have been dismantled. Spam volume immediately dropped 30% – not as extreme as McColo, but still significant. Although this created a sudden dip in spam levels, it also created an open invitation for opportunistic spammers to once again seize a market opportunity.

Over the coming months, we anticipate watching new players once again drive spam levels back up. Since June 4, spammers have already made up a significant amount of ground, climbing 14% from the initial drop.

Here's what the trend looked like, as tracked through Postini filters, over the past six months:

"Unpredictability" summarizes the overall trend as Q2'09 winds down and spammers test both new and "retro" techniques. For example, on June 18 we tracked a new attack that unleashed 50% of a typical day's spam volume in just two hours' time. This attack used a simple "newsletter" template – somewhat "old school" by today's spam standard – with malevolent links and images inserted into the content. Google's Postini filters detected more than 11,000 variants of this spam during those two hours. Because this spam enabled spoofing of the recipient domain (meaning the "from" field was falsified), distribution lists were especially hard-hit by this attack.

Resurgence of image spam

One of the other trends we're watching closely is the sudden popularity of "image spam"a form of spam that rose to prominence in 2007, before most anti-spam filters learned how to block it. It's simple stuff: basic email with advertising content, usually containing a related image. They can also include malicious links or contentand either way, the large file size of an image spam can place a heavy load on an email network.

An image spam email might look something like this:

Evidence of the resurgence in image spam can be seen in the graph below, which shows that the actual size of spam messages, measured in bytes, is back on the rise:

There are a couple of possible explanations for the resurgence in image spam, despite the fact that most spam filters out there have adapted to the technique. One theory is that this wave is designed to test the defenses
of the different spam filters out there, so that spammers can do statistical analysis on what subject lines and content have the highest probability of success.

Another is that there may be some new players entering the spam game, following the McColo and 3FN takedowns, and these new players are opening with some well-tested techniques. Either way, we're watching this trend and will share insights as we gain them in the weeks and months ahead.

Spike in payload viruses

June was also an active month for viruses sent as email attachments, otherwise known as "payload viruses." Volumes rose to their highest level in almost two years as spammers returned to yet another tried-and-true technique to expand their botnets.

As you can see in the chart below, June's activity is almost as high as the two-month payload virus surge seen in Q3'07. Fortunately, Google's Postini zero-hour heuristics detected this uprise early and kept payload attacks in the cloud and away from users' email networks.

Everything old might be new again

In summary, Q2'09 saw continued unpredictability and the resurgence of old-style spam attacks. Are spammers finally running out of original ideas? And if so, like Hollywood, are we now starting to see spam "remakes," based on originals of a few years ago? And what are spammers looking to accomplish as they unleash these remakes? Only time will tell.

For more information on how Google email security services, powered by Postini, can help your organization provide better spam protection and take a load off your network by halting spam in the cloud, visit

Posted by Amanda Kleha, Google message security and archiving team