Today we're excited to announce a little something to bring some flair to people's Gmail accounts for all editions of Google Apps.

Google Apps now offers more than 30 Gmail account theme choices ranging from weather themes that are customized for your location, to nature themes that change with your timezone, to themes that are just plain fun and funky.

Themes in Gmail give you a chance to customize your inbox, and your theme settings travel with you wherever you log in to your account, just like all the information in your inbox. You can customize your inbox by clicking 'Themes' in the 'Settings' menu once your account administrator enables the 'Turn on new features' checkbox in the Google Apps control panel.

Please note that not all Gmail accounts will have these immediately – we're rolling out Themes right now, and all domains with new features enabled by their admins will see 'Themes' in 'Settings' in the next few days.

Explore the Themes possibilities – they might make opening your inbox a little more fun.

Posted by
Monali Narayanaswami, Google Apps Team

Editor's Note: The spam data cited in this post is drawn from the Google enterprise security and archiving security network (Postini), which delivers an added layer of security for standalone mail servers and Google Apps Premier Edition customers. For a discussion of the anti-spam measures included in Gmail, please see this post from the Gmail blog.

In providing email security to more than 50,000 businesses and 15 million business users, Google security and archiving services, powered by Postini, process and cull spam from more than three billion enterprise email connections every day. This gives us strong insights into the state of the spam industry, some of which we share in regular posts to this blog.

ead on for a quick overview of spam trends and events in the first quarter of 2009.

What we saw in the Postini data centers

The most significant spam-related event in the first quarter of 2009 occurred when spam volume returned to pre-McColo takedown levels. By the second half of March, seven-day average spam volume was at the same volume we saw prior to the blocking of the McColo ISP in November 2008.

Spammers have clearly rallied following the McColo takedown, and overall spam volume growth during Q1 2009 was the strongest it's been since early 2008, increasing an average of 1.2% per day. To put that number into context, the growth rate of spam volume in Q1 2008 was approximately 1% per day – which, at the time, was a record high.

Of course, like every year before it, 2008 set a new record for overall spam volume. But in 2008 spam growth flattened over the summer and early fall, and then fell off a cliff after the McColo takedown (daily growth declined to .8%, .3%, and then .01% in the last three quarters of the year). This pattern raises some interesting questions regarding what we can expect in the rest of 2009: Will spam growth once again flatten or decline after a strong first quarter? Or have spammers – as part of their recovery from the McColo takedownrebuilt botnets to be capable of sustaining or even accelerating this early growth spurt?

It's difficult to ascertain exactly how spammers have rebuilt in the wake of McColo, but data suggests they're adopting new strategies to avoid a McColo-type takedown from occurring again. Specifically, the recent upward trajectory of spam could indicate that spammers are building botnets that are more robust but send less volumeor at least that they haven't enabled their botnets to run at full capacity because they're wary of exposing a new ISP as a target.

New types of spam

The most significant development in spam vectors this quarter was the appearance of location-based spam. In this type of attack, users click on a link in a spam message and are directed to a page that contains a fraudulent news headline describing a crisis or disaster in a major city nearby. The attack customizes the location for each user by determining the geolocation of the user's source IP and then identifying the nearest major city. The addition of location creates a heightened level of interest, and the user is tempted to click on the embedded video – which in turn downloads a virus to his or her machine.

Meanwhile, the economy, financial markets, job cuts, and resume help continue to be the most prominent topics spammers are employing as lures for more traditional attacks. We also saw increased spam activity around the U.S. presidential inauguration and St. Patrick's Day, in keeping with the recent propensity spammers have demonstrated for reading the news and keeping their eyes on the holiday calendar in targeting their attacks.

Virus roundup

In early 2008, a trend emerged in which we saw spam messages with attached viruses (otherwise known as "payload viruses") spiking every Sunday, possibly targeting a maintenance window to catch corporate defenses when they were undergoing scheduled updates.

This year we've seen the payload viruses spread out across every day of the week, with no immediately obvious pattern in their distribution. It's difficult to say for certain what prompted the change, but one possible explanation is that spammers switched tactics because they weren't seeing the success they'd hoped for from the focused attacks.

Of course, p
ayload viruses have also seen a recent spike overall -- in the month of March we saw a 9x increase from February. This pales in comparison to the highs we saw last summer, but it may indicate a developing trend that's worth keeping a close eye on.

Viruses delivered as a blended threat (when a spam message directs a user to a malicious website, which then results in a virus being downloaded to the user's computer) continue to be popular with spammers. E-cards are one of the best examples of this vector, and Valentine's Day saw a flurry of activity using e-cards to direct users to malicious websites.


Spammers continue to prove their resilience -- whether it's bouncing back from the biggest takedown on record or finding new ways to exploit the ways we communicate for malicious purposes, they're clearly here to stay. And Google believes firmly in the power of the cloud to protect your enterprise from them: Outsourcing message security to Google enables you to leverage our technical expertise and massive infrastructure to keep spammers from your door. See how much spam is costing your business, learn how much you could be saving with Google Message Security, or contact us for more information.

Posted by Amanda Kleha, Google security and archiving team

Sometimes a drawing is worth 1000 words – at the office or elsewhere. To broaden the ways you can work within Google Apps, we're releasing Drawings, a new feature in Google Docs. As of today, you can create and insert rich drawings into documents, presentations and spreadsheets to illustrate your ideas. You can now find 'Drawings' in the 'Insert' menu.

Read more about the ways you can use Drawings and the technology behind the feature on the Google Docs blog.

Posted by: Tony Glenning, Drawings Team Lead

Google Site Search has now been included into an expanded version of the access provider program. The program was created last year for the web hosting community so they could easily integrate Google Webmaster tools into their customer's websites. Today we expanded the program to include three new services including AdSense, Custom Search, and Site Search under the program Google Services for Websites.

We are excited to have Google Site Search as part of the program because it provides us with better partner opportunities with the web hosting community. Webhosters who participate can enroll in the Google Affiliate program which allows them to get referral fees for every customer who creates Google Site Search.

All together, Hosting service providers can now make use of multiple Google APIs and add these services for their customers at no cost. These tools can help increase the value of customer websites by:
  • Driving traffic and visibility to their websites with Webmaster Tools
  • Enhancing their website and visitor satisfaction with customized search through Custom Search or Google Site Search
  • Monetizing their sites through the Google ad network using AdSense
The initial access provider program has already gotten off to a fantastic start, with partners including Go Daddy (who launched the first pilot back in 2007 with Webmaster Tools), IPOWER, StartLogic, PowWeb, FatCow, BizLand, and EasyCGI. Many of these partners have already integrated multiple Google services into their customer console.

If you are an existing access provider (via the Webmaster Tools Access Provider program), you will be automatically enrolled in the new program, but will still need to integrate the new services into your control panel (with their APIs). Certain services may need additional approvals. Any hosters interested in learning more can check out the Google Services for Websites Access Provider site and sign up today.

let us know what you think! And if these tools aren't yet available through your hosting company, send them a link to this post and let them know we're here to help.

Posted by Nitin Mangtani and Dave Kim, Google Enteprise Search team

In a recent post, we expressed our delight about all the global growth we're seeing lately for Google Apps Education Edition. The increased adoption of schools moving to Apps has been particularly significant in India, especially as a result of our recent Got the "App"titude Challenge. This competition encouraged students, faculty members, and alumni from engineering and management schools throughout India to move their institutions to Google Apps.

The challenge created quite a stir, attracting more than 6,000 teams consisting of students, faculty, and alumni since its launch in August. Each team worked with their own IT staff to identify challenges and limitations with their existing email and collaboration systems, and then – working with a Google representative – demonstrated the ways in which Google Apps could mitigate these issues.

As a result of the challenge, more than 100 colleges across India are now in the process of implementing Apps on their campuses. Some of these schools include
Jaypee Business School, National Institute of Technology - Calicut, Zakir Husain College of Engineering & Technology, and Aligarh Muslim University.

The performance of each team was evaluated by measuring product usage after their deployment. We'd like to extend our congratulations to the XL CONNECT team from Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI) - Jamshedpur, who won the challenge by demonstrating the highest usage of Google Apps products.
This team ran a pilot and implemented Google Apps within less than a month from the day they secured approval from their college's decision makers. They also conducted marketing campaigns to inspire students to find innovative ways to use Google Apps tools. Chintan Agarwal, secretary of the Systems Society at XLRI says, "Considering the need for a networked manager and the high reliability and usability of Google Apps, we have rolled-out Apps services for all XLers, including international students at Singapore and Dubai."

Below is a map of all the schools across India who will be rolling out Apps on campus after participating in the challenge. We look forward to continuing to fill up the map as more schools across the globe get the "App"titude.

Posted by Gagandeep Singh and Jolly Ngemu, Google Apps India team

A picture says a thousand words. An upward trending chart says even more!

Google Apps now provides you with usage charts for your business, school, or organization, allowing you to visualize important data such as active users and disk space utilization from within the control panel. In addition, these dynamic charts can be embedded in gadgets and put into Google Docs, Google Sites, or anywhere else that can host a gadget. You can even put them on a public web page - you control who sees your data.

In addition to seeing charts, administrators can now download CSV reports of domain usage straight from the control panel.

Want to graph the data differently or perhaps even access additional information such as the number of accounts that have been idle in the last 60 days? No problem. With the Google Apps Reporting Visualization API you can retrieve a wide range of usage reports for your domain and display them using a large selection of visualizations created by the developer community.

All of these enhanced reporting and visualization features are available for Google Apps Premier, Partner, and Education Editions. Enjoy!

Xia and Nick Cooper, Google Apps Engineers

We often speak with customers who ask, "What can Google Apps do for my business?" We have a list of answers – communications tools including Gmail and Google Calendar, collaboration apps like Google Sites and Docs, and security tools by Postini – and we like to get those answers out wherever we can.

That's why we're inviting people in California's San Francisco Bay Area and Mountain View (to start) to a business roundtable reviewing Google Apps and sharing how businesses (including Google) use them to drive innovation and streamline IT. In the tradition of Google's internal "Tech Talks," this will be open forum for discussing insights and lessons learned from using Google Apps and getting the full benefits of this multi-purpose business "tool kit."

By the end of this event, you will have answers to these questions:
  • What is Google Apps?
  • How can Google Apps cut costs and create efficiencies – in other words, save money, time and headaches?
  • How can Google Apps help businesses drive innovation?
  • How are other businesses using Google Apps?
  • Does Google Apps meet my business's technical expectations?
We're offering these roundtables twice, with limitied participation – so if you're in the area and want to attend, please register here with this form created in Google Docs.

San Francisco
  • Tuesday, April 7
  • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • Google SF Campus (we will contact confirmed participants with details and exact location)
Mountain View
  • Wednesday, April 8
  • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
  • Google Mountain View Campus (we will contact confirmed participants with details and exact location)
We look forward to meeting with you and providing you with the information you need to move your business forward with the help of Google Apps.

Get timely updates on new features in Google Apps by subscribing to our RSS feed or email alerts.

Jenya Denissova and Jeff Austin, Google Apps and Postini Team

Thousands of developers have created gadgets since we first released the gadgets API four years ago, and millions of people use gadgets every week in Google Apps. Gadgets aggregate content from around the web and perform simple tasks like managing a to-do list. For developers, gadgets are easy to create with only basic HTML and JavaScript. Google Apps customers already use gadgets to add dynamic charts to Google Docs, and to embed rich media, retrieve feeds, or add other functionality in Google Sites.

Today, we're announcing three new features in Google Sites that will make gadgets more useful for Google Apps Premier Edition customers:
  • Start Page template: Site owners can now use this page type to allow individual viewers to personalize specific areas of a site. Pages created with this template, like the one below, allow individuals to add and organize their own gadgets to customize the page. The site owner chooses "Start Page" in the page type menu, and then adds content that they want everyone to see to the top of the page. Each viewer can then customize the page to see their own personal gadgets.

This screenshot shows a corporate intranet for a fictitious produce company, Organic City. Everyone who visits the site will see the welcome message, important links, and company news gadgets. Joe, a farm manager, also sees three personal gadgets that he's added: last year's harvest data, the breakdown of the company's dairy products, and an organization chart. Joe gets not only general company information but also information that is important just to him every time he visits the intranet.
  • Private gadgets: Until now, all gadgets had to be public, which meant anyone who knew the URL could view the source code. Now domain admins can upload gadgets to Google Apps, and only members of their domain will be able to see and add these gadgets to their Sites. You can find these gadgets in a directory with your company's domain name in the gadgets directory.

  • End-to-end security: We've also added support for gadgets to match the security of the site itself. If a Google Site is encrypted, then your gadget data will be encrypted from the source code to the browser.
Developers can learn more about writing gadgets on Google Code. Domain administrators should visit the Help Center to find more information about setting up a private directory for their company.

Go gadgets!

Editor's Note: We are pleased to welcome Michael Cohn, CEO of Cloud Sherpas, as a guest blogger. Cloud Sherpas recently helped TechCFO, a Google Apps customer, build 3 types of Google Sites - a knowledge base, a customer workspace for collaboration, and a company intranet. For this project, Cloud Sherpas developed the Google Sites Bulk File Uploader and worked out a transition plan to meet TechCFO's collaboration needs, while planning for mail migration down the road. Along with TechCFO's Neal Miller, Michael will speak at a webinar – "How Google Apps Can Unlock Information, Increase Innovation, and Streamline IT, " next Thursday, March 26.

As a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and enterprise deployment partner, most of Cloud Sherpas' work focuses on helping clients migrate legacy enterprise messaging environments – Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, Novell GroupWise, and others – to Google Apps. These migrations can take a long time depending upon the number of users, amount of data to be migrated and complexity of the legacy systems.

When Neal Miller, a Partner at TechCFO, came to one of our Google Apps demos, he had a more pressing problem to address: how to help the firm's partners located across the country more easily share their expertise as CFOs to benefit all of their clients. This problem was concerning to them since the company's prime asset is the partners' financial knowledge – unlocking its potential would pay dividends to TechCFO. TechCFO's solution at the time was to upload documents to the public folders in their hosted Exchange server – but it was really difficult to search for information. The partners needed something that was simpler to search, simpler to access and provided better performance. Google Sites provided us with the tool to address their needs. Additionally, we developed the Google Sites Bulk File Uploader to help manage the migration of 100's of documents into a unique nested Google Site format.

Google Sites has proven to be a tool that TechCFO can use for multiple purposes. Since the firm needs to share information and collaborate on financial strategy and planning with its clients, we also created Sites they could easily use with people outside their firewall. Each client Site provides a secure "workspace" that is only shared with that client since they may post financial models or legal documents to it. We also built TechCFO a company intranet to share HR information, announcements of new team members and other company news.

Working with TechCFO opened my eyes to another way that companies interested in Google Apps can get started – through Google's collaboration apps. Using Google Sites, TechCFO saved thousands of dollars over other collaboration options – and the firm will save even more when it moves over other applications such as Gmail and Google Calendar. Google Apps has opened up a mountain of possibilities – though sometimes you need the help of a Sherpa to get you to the top.

I invite you to join us on an online seminar exploring "How Google Apps Can Unlock Information, Increase Innovation, and Streamline IT, " where Neal and I will be on hand to show you examples of what we built, and how we did so. We'll also be happy to answer your questions online.

How Google Apps Can Unlock Information, Increase Innovation, and Streamline IT
Thursday, March 26, 2009
1:00 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT / 5:00 PM GMT

Register here.

Michael Cohn, CEO of Cloud Sherpas

Cloud Sherpas ( is a cloud computing systems integrator and application developer. As a leading Google Enterprise partner, Cloud Sherpas helps organizations leverage Google Apps and Google App Engine to dramatically reduce IT expenses. The company delivers deployment, change management, support and development services to commercial, enterprise and educational institutions seeking to adopt cloud computing. Cloud Sherpas is a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and enterprise deployment partner. The company also supports cloud computing solutions from EMC/Decho, TriCipher and other best-in-breed vendors.

Serena Satyasai

In the past week, we've released some cool new features in Google Video for education in Google Apps, including captioning of audio tracks, and ability to upload videos up to 1GB in size for users with Google Gears-enabled browsers. We mentioned that both of these features may be useful for schools, and now we'd like to make them easier to try.

As of March 31st, we will be offering 10GB of Google Video free to every Google Education Edition domain. This will give each school the ability to stream up to 30 hours of content of anything they want - be it 30 hours of Physics 101 lectures, 30 hours of little league soccer practices or 30 hours of commencement keynotes – or a mix of those.

When we originally added Google Video to the Apps suite, we offered it for free for a trial period, but promised a change in our policy this March (right now). And here's that promised change. Now you can store 10GB of video and trade out old video for new, knowing that your current 30 hours is always available on our servers.

So start your video cameras and capture your professors (or your students) in the act; we'll provide the storage; the popcorn's up to you.

Google Enterprise is now talking on twitter under the name GoogleAtWork. GoogleAtWork will share information on product updates, webinars, things happening with customers, media coverage for things that we offer or do, and other news. We're also using twitter to listen to things that people are saying about us and the organizations we want to serve.

The conversation is just getting started, and we're excited to already have a growing crowd of followers. We're sharing a picture of them here:

Thanks to TwitterSheep for this cool illustration, displaying the self-proclaimed attributes in the profiles of our followers.

"Twitter?," some may ask. It's the 140-character "microblogging" site that's gained a huge fan base for both individuals and organizations – and we're glad to be joining the ranks. We think it will be a great community and home for the Google Enterprise team, and we hope that you'll follow us there. Here's how:

If you're already using Twitter, simply click here and choose "follow". If you're not using Twitter yet, sign up here – it's easy, and free – and then "follow" GoogleAtWork.

This blog won't change at all based on our use of twitter – except in one way: you can now see a stream of our twitter conversation on the right margin of this page (you may have to scroll down a bit).

If you have ideas or suggestions about how you'd like to see us use twitter, add them here – or better yet, follow us and enjoy the new voice of GoogleAtWork .

Posted by Ellen Petry Leanse, Google Enterprise Team

When we first launched Google Video for business in Google Apps, we aimed to apply Google's video technology to solving real business and education problems. Google itself, and Google Apps customers, have been using the product for everything from executive briefings to extending training events to its remote offices to sharing wacky office moments with coworkers. In fact, we've been using Google Video to save both time and money at Google, making most video production a self-serve process.

Since we launched Google Video back in September 2008, we've been listening to customers and working hard to make Google Video even better. Today, we're excited to announce two major new features are available right now on your domain:
  • Captions We've added a new captioning feature which allows you to give viewers a deeper understanding of your video. Captions can help people who would not otherwise understand the audio track to follow along, especially those who speak other languages or who are deaf or hearing impaired. You'll find details and administrative information here.
  • Larger Uploads Starting today, users with Google Gears configured in their browser can upload videos of up to 1 GB in size, up from the 300 MB limit previously available. This is important to businesses and schools that need to host longer form or higher quality video. If you'd like to upload videos of this size, simply get Google Gears or Google Chrome to enable larger uploads today.
Check out these new features, and please keep the suggestions coming.

Posted by Vinay Siddavanahalli and Jared King, Google Video Team

What if we told you that a 35 minute tutorial would teach you everything you needed about keeping your Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, or other on-premise email system safe from spam, malware, and viruses? We hope that you'd believe us, and that you'd give our new "Nuts to Bolts" on Google Message Security, powered by Postini, a view.

Don't have 35 minutes? We know the feeling. The topic overview (on the left) lets you pinpoint the subjects that interest you most.

This tutorial is just one from a growing library of information and resources in our Security and Archiving Learning Center. Find a moment to come in and look around.

Ellen Petry Leanse, Google Enterprise Team

On the heels of the Oscars, we're proud to have been named the best intranet search solution of the year by Intranet Journal. It's been a year filled with hard work, as we've seen the release of brand new search appliance software, as well as nearly ten new innovations in our Enterprise Labs.

As those who tune in know, the Oscars aren't just about the movies – they're about the fashion. In some sense, the same holds true for the Google Search Appliance: It's not just about designing the best search experience possible. It's about being well put together.

Setting up an enterprise search solution has traditionally been an "unattractive" prospect: hordes of databases, ranks of whirring servers, blinking lights and backups disks, all strung together with a mass of twisting wires and cables. Not exactly suited to the red carpet.

At Google, our approach has been to pair simple and timeless yellow attire with the power to index 10 million documents in a single box.
We're honored to have been recognized, and ultimately, we see this as being all about our users and customers. The feedback we get from you, the work of our partners and system integrators, the efforts of IT administrators who continue to push the envelope of the appliance and what search can do – none of our work is possible without you. You...complete us.

Here's looking at you GSA customers.

Nitin Mangtani, Google Enterprise Team