With easy personalization and built-in security, Chrome devices were made for sharing. The new Managed Public Sessions feature delivers a highly customizable experience for both customers and employees without requiring a login.

Because Chromebooks are low cost, easy to set up and manage, and require virtually no maintenance, Chromebooks with Managed Public Sessions make perfect shared kiosks. You could use a Chromebook with Managed Public Sessions to:

  • Order out-of-stock items online while at a retail store 
  • Search for books and browse the web at the library 
  • Update machine and inventory info from the manufacturing floor 
  • Access the company portal and update HR info from the employee break room 
  • Catch up on work in a hotel business center

Administrators can easily customize any Chrome device to be a public session device using the web-based management console. The features that you'll find in the console include the ability to set the default sites and apps a user sees at login, custom brand the homepage, block sites and apps that shouldn't be accessed, configure device inputs and outputs, and set timed log-out sessions. For security reasons, public session data is cleared on logout so the next user starts fresh.

We’ve tested public sessions with a few customers and here’s the initial feedback:
  • Dillards, Inc. - “We have many more employees than computers at our retail stores, so being able to share devices is key. With Managed Public Sessions, employees can walk up to any machine and get immediate access to their corporate email and important internal systems. And since Managed Public Sessions wipes all data at logout, it supports our PCI compliance requirements.”
    - Woody Chin, CIO, Dillard’s
  • Multnomah County Library - “Our Community Chromebooks program was funded by a grant from the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission. We have about 160 Chromebooks in 19 neighborhood libraries that patrons can check out for 2 hours of in-library use. The program’s been hugely popular - in the last year, we’ve loaned Chromebooks over 30,000 times. With Managed Public Sessions, we can get patrons online and productive faster, by pre-configuring the devices with a terms of service agreement, the library homepage, and popular apps like Google Maps, Evernote, and the Kindle Cloud Reader. Public Sessions also makes the program easier for library staff to support, as the session count-down timer will help get Chromebooks turned in on time, and preinstalling the most popular apps will reduce setup questions.”
    - Lucien Kress, Project Manager, Multnomah County Library
  • Hyatt San Francisco - “I’ve been running Chromeboxes with Managed Public Sessions in employee break areas. We really like Chromeboxes’ speedy browsing, easy management and security. Employees use Chromeboxes to access Hyatt payroll system, request time off, and stay up to date on internal news. They can also access personal email and social sites during breaks and I don’t need to worry about viruses and malware infecting Chromeboxes.”
    - Victor Povzner, Sr. IT Director, Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Learn more on the Chromebook site or contact us if you have any follow up questions.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Tom Muraca, Director of Marketing at Katz Americas, the largest manufacturer of beverage coasters in North and South America. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Katz Americas may not be a household name, but when you put a drink down at a tavern or restaurant, our product is probably under your glass. We’re one of the biggest manufacturers of drink coasters in the United States, with over 100 employees across our two facilities in Buffalo, New York and Johnson City, Tennessee.

We weren't always such a large company - we grew quickly through a handful of mergers over the last few years - and when we finally had a chance to come up for air, we realized our technology hadn’t kept up with us. We were stumbling along with a fractured email and collaboration platform built around Microsoft Exchange 2003 and a few file-sharing servers. It was expensive and unreliable, especially for a company without a dedicated IT department. Upgrading our hosted system didn’t make financial sense, and Microsoft Office 365 didn’t win our team over. Google Apps did both, and its stability and security features were especially attractive. We decided to make the switch to Google Apps in September of 2011, and with help from Dito, our Google Apps Reseller, we were up and running by January of 2012.

Google Apps has helped us streamline and modernize our day-to-day work. By using Google Drive, we’ve cut the average time it takes to deliver an estimate and mocks to a customer from one week to just three days. Instead of sending different versions of huge files around by email, we create a single shared folder on Drive and house each proof there. That way, we can easily share, edit and collaborate on our work as a team in less than half the time it took before.

The Gmail and Google Drive mobile apps have changed how we interact with potential customers and sell our product when we’re on the road. Now, I can pull up a design on my phone while I’m speaking to a customer at an industry event or even create a rough prototype on the spot. I can also add their information to my contacts, get a quote started for them immediately, and follow up via email within minutes of finishing our conversation. Google Apps lets us give our customers on-the-spot, personal service, and that gives us a huge advantage over the competition.

Google Apps has been the keystone of our revamped company strategy at a time of significant change. The way I see it, it’s also just the beginning: our employees are constantly finding new features and sharing their favorite use cases, so I can only imagine the benefits we’ll see a year from now. In the meantime, we’ll get back to focusing on our core business - protecting tabletops from condensation and spills with surfboard-shaped coasters (and some normal shaped coasters, too).

Eric Zhang, Drive Software Engineer

(Cross-posted on the Google Drive blog.)

More often than not, you need to work with others to get things done. Today, working together in Drive is getting even easier with new profile pictures and one-click group chat.

Now when you open a file in Drive, you’ll see the profile pictures of other viewers at the top instead of just their names, making it easy for you to do a quick scan of who else is in the file. You can hover over a photo to see details about the viewer and add them to your circles on Google+ — all without ever leaving Drive.

In addition, you can now start a group chat with just one click. Simply select the new chat button at the top right and a chat box will appear, making it easy for you to quickly message everyone in the file. 

These new features will roll out over the next few days to Rapid Release domains, and we’ll be adding support for more file types (like Google Sheets) soon, so stay tuned. 


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Chris Behling, President at Mollen, a national healthcare services company specializing in the delivery of remote and local healthcare services. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Mollen enables clients and patients to access and deliver healthcare services in the most convenient and cost effective ways possible. We do this by leveraging a network of over 200,000 healthcare professionals to deliver services wherever people live, work, play, worship and shop. Mollen is also the largest independent mass-immunizer in the country and last year we conducted over 100,000 healthcare events across all fifty states.

The healthcare services we provide typically require a lot of physical documents: in 2011, we used 20 million pieces of paper for everything from patient records to insurance verification to credit card processing. Paper gave everyone problems. It was an imposition on our patients, who had to spend time manually filling out forms, our nurses, because it slowed them down, and finance, because it delayed billing. It was also a drain on the environment.

We knew we needed to move away from paper and go digital, so we explored a number of different avenues - tablets, laptops and smartphones, among others. Ultimately we decided to go with Chromebooks with 3G, for a number of reasons. The first is security - with the Chrome Management Console, we could centrally configure the devices so they gave users access to just those sites and apps necessary for them to provide services. Second, Chromebooks enabled us to reduce our paper consumption by 80%, while providing our customers better service through a faster digital experience. And third, they’ve speed up our internal processes. Our nurses can now look up a patient’s medical history and determine if they’re eligible and covered for a given procedure, a process that previously would have taken days. And we’re able to accept credit cards and handle insurance billing onsite, ensuring that we’ll get paid for our services.

While security and paper reduction were the primary reasons we chose Chromebooks, we realized quickly there were additional benefits. Chromebooks have helped us more easily adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by using 3G instead of WiFi. Using WiFi would have required us to audit each of the thousands of networks we would have been operating on. Whereas, since 3G’s built in to each Chromebook and communicates with our cellular carrier, Verizon, directly, we didn’t have an additional local area network we needed to audit, saving us time and resources.

By moving to Chromebooks, not only are we able to increase the number of people we’re able to serve, but we’re able to do so better, more securely and at a reduced cost. And by reducing our reliance on paper, we’re happy that we’re helping reduce our environmental impact, as well.


With Google Earth, you can see just about any location in the world (or even locations outside our world, like galaxies in outer space). Three-dimensional imagery and satellite maps allow you to virtually trek the globe from the comfort of your computer, bringing the world's geography to your fingertips. Today we’re announcing new features for Google Earth Pro that let organizations easily edit maps and accurately measure complex site views.

As a premium edition of Google Earth, Google Earth Pro 7.1 lets you visualize, analyze and share 3D map data and imagery. Using Earth Pro, you can make smart decisions about a location without physically being there. For example, a construction company could calculate the site area and slope of a potential property using Earth Pro’s advanced measurement tools.

With version 7.1, Earth Pro offers two new capabilities:
  • Map-Making: Create legends and scales and add titles to a map, directly from Google Earth Pro. You can also print your customized map or save it as an image. To conduct an environmental survey, for example, enhanced map-making tools let you highlight changes to land mass over time and document those changes directly in the map by adding a legend. 
  • Viewshed: Identify and calculate viewpoints, measuring distances and visualizing potential views. For example, an architecture firm could use the viewshed tool to measure a view from a building or window without being physically on-site.

With simple tools for visualizing, capturing and sharing geospatial information, Google Earth Pro makes it easy to interact with the world around you right from your computer. To celebrate Earth Day, we're offering Google Earth Pro 7.1 (normally $399) for $199 for the next 24 hours. To take advantage of this price, sign up before 9:00 am PDT on April 23, 2013 (Promo code: EARTHDAY199). 


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Dan Beecham, CIO at Woolworths Limited. Woolworths is an Australian company that was founded in 1924 in Sydney. Today Woolworths has more than 3,000 stores across Australia and New Zealand that span food, liquor, petrol, general merchandise, home improvement and hotels.

As one of Australia and New Zealand’s most innovative retailers, we’re always looking for ways we can use technology to give our customers more convenient ways to shop — whether that’s in store, from the comfort of their computer at home, or on the move via our smartphone apps.

This innovative approach does not stop with our customers. As Australia’s largest retailer with more than 3,000 stores across Australia and New Zealand, our staff of 200,000 need intuitive technology that enables them to work more efficiently, collaboratively and effectively. To do this, they need to be able to access the right applications and information, from any location, using any device.

This is why we’ve decided to move to Google Apps and Chrome. Changing to a cloud based suite of tools is a key part of our strategy to use technology to promote greater collaboration, productivity and effectiveness. Over the next 12 months we will be rolling out Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk to the 26,000 staff in our national and state offices. This is the first phase of what we hope will be a company-wide transformation of our workplace technology.

We are also actively looking at how we can innovate with Google+, Google Drive and Google Sites to transform the way we approach other aspects of our business.

The move to Google Apps and Chrome builds on the successful roll out of Gmail and our ‘Tap to Support’ App on iPads to Woolworths supermarket store managers last year. The custom-made application, built on Google App Engine, helps our managers stay on the shop floor and focused on customers by allowing them to log a support ticket with our national support office in just one click rather than being tied to a PC in the back office.

Soon more of our staff will be able to experience the productive and collaborative benefits of being able to work from any device, anywhere. Geographically dispersed teams, like our merchandising or state based workers, will be able to use Docs to collaborate in real-time.

Going Google will transform the way our employees interact with technology and collaborate with each other at every level of the organisation. We’re looking forward to providing our staff access to intuitive consumer technology at work and see the move to Google as the beginning of our journey towards a more efficient and innovative style of working.


Just like in our personal lives, work increasingly means accessing useful information, staying connected with people, and using web apps -- all of which are powered by the browser. Today, we’re announcing two new Chrome for Business features that make it easier to use Chrome at work.

First, we’re launching Legacy Browser Support for companies that want to use Chrome but rely on custom web applications built for older browsers. When companies use browsers that are two or more versions old, employees and developers are unable to benefit from the incredible web innovations of the past four, or even ten years. Deploying a modern browser can help IT bolster security, reduce support costs, and improve browser speed and usability for employees.

With Legacy Browser Support, employees on Chrome are automatically switched to a legacy browser when they begin using an older app. IT managers simply define which sites should launch from Chrome into an alternate browser, and then set this Chrome policy for all employees. And while Chrome Frame helps developers build apps for older browsers, Legacy Browser Support lets IT admins of organizations embrace the modern web.

More than ever, employees are requesting to use their personal computers or devices for work. We’re also introducing cloud-based management of Chrome for Google Apps for Business and Education customers. Now, whether employees are working from the company’s desktop or their personal laptop, they will be able to access default applications, custom themes, or a curated app web store when they sign-in to Chrome with their work account. With cloud-based management, IT administrators can customize more than 100 Chrome policies and preferences for their employees from the Google Admin panel. Non-Google Apps customers who are interested can sign up here.

The web and browser have come a long way in the last 20 years. As Chrome continues to push the boundary of what’s possible on the modern web, these innovations should be available for everyone, everywhere -- especially at work. Learn more about Chrome for Business.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Phil Soper, President & CEO, Royal LePage.

Buying a home is typically the largest purchase a family will make in their lifetime. It is no wonder that prospective buyers approach the task of finding their perfect place with such fervour. Today’s house-shoppers seek detailed, current and useful information on prospective properties and neighbourhoods. They are sophisticated users of search technology, but have traditionally been frustrated by the tools available to them. It is with this as a challenge in mind that we tackled a major redesign and rebuild of our popular real estate website,, using Google technology.

The website integrates a new service from the Canadian Real Estate Association called Data Distribution Facility or DDF. Utilizing DDF, which our firm played a significant role in bringing to market, we will more than double the number of home-sale listings on For the first time, our website will showcase home listings from multiple property brokerage companies, not just Royal LePage, providing consumers with their one-stop real estate resource.

A good part of the magic behind the new is hidden in the site’s architecture. While many real estate websites use Google Maps and Google Places, Royal LePage went a step further by constructing the website with Google Cloud Platform using Google App Engine and Google Cloud Storage. Real estate websites tend to store a large number of property records and photos, and require a large amount of location-based processing to render consumer search results. Utilizing Google Cloud Platform allows us to deliver that critical consumer information quickly and accurately. It will also allow us to scale our performance and our costs effectively as our real estate data and consumer base grows.

Uniquely, the site also employs cutting edge search technology from Google Cloud Platform, which enables consumers to go beyond traditional search to hunt for homes near local landmarks. For example, consumers can search for homes near the CN Tower, near Stanley Park or near Olympic Stadium. This innovative technology brings industry-leading search to the real estate consumer.

Relying heavily on a number of Google technologies, we were able to create an online experience unlike anything previously seen in Canadian real estate. The revamped website utilizes Google Maps and Street View for map-based search with visual assist. Many properties will display a Walkscore® ranking, which helps families understand what can be easily accomplished on foot in the area they are investigating. Additionally, tailored information is available for property listings, including Wikipedia neighbourhood photos and information, agent-produced video and descriptions, an overview of local amenities via Google Places and a list of other properties for sale in the area.

We are thrilled to unveil the new in this, Royal LePage’s centennial year. Our website, powered by Google tools, will enable Canadians to explore their real estate dreams as never before. It will provide quick and efficient delivery of more listings, fresh neighbourhood insights, and extensive property details. It’s all there. Happy home searching!


Since launching Google Apps for Business in Japan in 2007, we’ve seen some of the country’s best known companies embrace the simplicity and freedom of working in the cloud. The likes of Casio, Benesse and Kewpie Corporation are now using Google Apps for Business products, to work more collaboratively and efficiently.

Today, two of Japan's most venerable companies Kubota and FUJIFILM are making the leap to the cloud too. This news comes just a month after ANA announced that its 43,000 staff across 40 company divisions will soon use Google Apps for Business and Nikkei ranked Google as the nation’s number one cloud service provider.

Established in 1890, Kubota is an international leader in agricultural machinery manufacturing, with more than 20,000 staff across 20 countries. Overseas sales make up more than 50% of its business. As Kubota looks to increase its business abroad to 70% in the next five years, it will adopt Google Apps as an IT and communications solution. Google Apps will help Kubota facilitate a smooth overseas expansion by enabling employees to connect and collaborate real time across borders.

FUJIFILM is also on a path of international expansion. A household name in photography and imaging, FUJIFILM is now applying its world-class technology to the medical systems and life sciences sectors. As their business evolves they want an IT platform that is its fast and flexible so plan to move their 30,000-strong workforce to the cloud, Gmail and Google Drive.

Kubota and FUJIFILM join over 5 million businesses worldwide that have moved to Google Apps for Business. Enhanced with the features and controls that businesses need to be productive, innovative and successful, Google’s workplace tools are giving some of the world’s oldest and most established businesses a 21st century edge.


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and Google Chrome Blog.)

As a parent of three kids, I have the same aspirations as many other parents and educators—to provide them with the best opportunities to learn and discover their passions. For many students, the web has become an incredible resource for the classroom, offering tools to work collaboratively, share and research. School systems of all sizes—from a single primary school to an entire country such as the Philippines—have “Gone Google” in their schools and embraced the web to transform education.

Today the country of Malaysia is going a step further by adopting Google Apps for 10 million students, teachers and parents. As part of this initiative they are also deploying Chromebooks to primary and secondary schools nationwide. These efforts to integrate the web are a central part of a national plan (PDF) to reform its educational system.

To deploy technology across a nationwide school system, computers need to be simple, manageable and secure. Chromebooks are ideal for learning and sharing in the classroom—there’s nothing complicated to learn, they boot up in seconds and have virus protection built in. They also offer easy setup and deployment, which means they’re ready to go the moment a student opens the lid and logs in. And with reduced overhead costs, Chromebooks are a cost-efficient option* to deploy technology at scale.

To date, more than 3,000 schools worldwide, from Edina, Minnesota to Point England, New Zealand, have deployed Chromebooks to improve attendance and graduation rates, make learning more fun and enable students to take more ownership for their learning.

The web gives our children and students new opportunities to access the world’s information and work collaboratively. We look forward to working with national and regional leaders to make the most of the web with Google Apps and Chromebooks and help them provide the best opportunities to every student.

*In research sponsored by Google, research firm IDC found that Chromebooks yield three-year cost of ownership savings of $1,135 per device compared to traditional PCs or tablets, require 69% fewer hours to deploy and 92% fewer hours to manage. Learn more.


Editor's note: From the founding of Faneuil Hall in 1740 to the opening of Franklin Southie in 2008, Boston’s businesses have embodied an enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit. Today, we’re wicked excited to hear from Justin Hiltz, Media Futurist at Johnny Cupcakes, a designer, manufacturer and retailer of unique, limited edition t-shirts founded in Boston. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

We’re fans of individuality and expression at Johnny Cupcakes. Our t-shirts are specially made in small batches to help express and reflect our customer’s unique styles. This independent ethos helped propel our brand from a cult favorite in our hometown of Boston into a multi-million dollar, international business with stores in London, Los Angeles and, of course, across Massachusetts.

We’ve grown a lot since Johnny Earle started Johnny Cupcakes in 2001, but we’ve always put a premium on staying fresh – both with our designs and the technology we work with. When I joined the company two years ago, I realized our email system was causing more harm than good, especially at the rate we were growing. I knew we needed an upgrade, I knew it didn't make sense to install a server that required constant maintenance, and I knew most employees were already using Gmail on their own. Moving to Google Apps seemed both attractive and obvious.

Google Apps for Business makes communication a snap. We’ve grown to 50 employees, but still work at the same breakneck speed we did when it was just Johnny hustling to get the company off the ground. That’s why it’s essential to have the tools to keep up with our pace. Google Chat makes that possible. We love that we can send a quick ping to someone with a question, an idea in need of feedback or a project update without having to leave our desks.

Google Apps saves us a lot of time and prevents a lot of headaches. Take our recent website redesign, for example. Our customers are our biggest fans, so we wanted to show them some love by highlighting a handful of them on our new site. At first, the thought of coordinating, collecting and curating that amount of content seemed daunting. I was worried we’d have to use a 3rd party questionnaire app or do everything over email and pull it all together manually (and painstakingly). Then I realized I could do it all through Google Forms. I set up a questionnaire, sent it to our customers, and saw the responses show up in real-time in a single spreadsheet. It saved me hours of work I would’ve wasted emailing, copying and pasting.

Johnny Cupcakes is all about our customers – we love them and they love us. This connection fuels our drive to make clothes that are both exclusive and accessible. Google Apps allows us to communicate more effectively, which helps free up our time so that we can concentrate on the things that really matter: our customers.


Editor's note: From the founding of Faneuil Hall in 1740 to the opening of Franklin Southie in 2008, Boston’s businesses have embodied an enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit. Today, we’re wicked excited to hear from Dan Petlon, 2012 Boston Business Journal CIO of the year and CIO of Enterasys, a global provider of wired and wireless network infrastructure and security solutions with a strong Boston presence. See what other companies that have gone Google have to say.

Change in information technology (IT) can be tough. Employees have to learn a new interface and get used to a different way of doing everyday things. But that change is often tougher for CIOs and IT managers since we also have to manage migrating data, handling questions and buying or upgrading hardware. So when we started switching the majority of the company’s infrastructure over to the cloud, I prepared for an uphill battle.

We had been using Microsoft Exchange for more than 14 years and it was starting to outlive its usefulness. Tools that we relied on in Exchange 2007 didn’t work when we upgraded to the 2010 version, calendaring was messy and mobile syncing was even tougher. Our Sharepoint server – the center of collaboration for the company – was just not working.

Our search for a cloud-based email and collaboration system came down to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. While our 1,200 employees were used to Microsoft's tools, we weren't convinced their solution fully understood the cloud; Office 365 still required us to install software and hardware. Google Apps was entirely cloud-based and offered everything we needed with a single license - it was the right way to go for us. We switched last summer with the help of Google Apps reseller Cloud Sherpas.

Our staff quickly adopted Gmail and Google Calendar and also tried out Google Docs, finding that it makes creating presentations and sharing information with each other and outside partners much easier. Our sales managers have started using Google+ Hangouts for preliminary interviews with remote job candidates in order to get a more personal first interview with them before bringing them into the office. We’re also in the process of finally getting rid of our Sharepoint server by migrating the information over to Google Sites and Google Drive. Our Quality Assurance team has about 100 people who all use Sites and Drive to store, organize and share every document they create. Now it’s become company policy: every document that’s created internally is made using a Google Doc!

Google Apps has also helped us make mobility simple for our employees. Their email and calendars are always synced, there’s never any downtime or connectivity issues, like there were with Exchange, and they have all their Docs with them anytime they need them. Almost a year later, our support tickets have dropped over 60 percent and we’ve saved more than $300,000.

In about one year of running Google Apps, 272 new features have been pushed out to our company. That’s an impressive pace and something that would have seemed impossible before, but I see it as the luxury of cloud computing. While change can seem daunting, we’re really happy to have Google Apps as our guide.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Linda Venables, Director of IT at Dick Smith, an electronics retailer in Australia and New Zealand. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

As an electronics retailer, you can imagine that staff at Dick Smith have a real passion for technology. They not only want to keep customers up-to-date with the latest innovations and gadgets — they want to use them too. This is key to our culture and as our company evolves we want to ensure that our highly mobile, tech savvy workforce have the flexibility to work in ways that suit them.

With more than 4,500 staff in 323 stores across Australia and New Zealand, we have a lot of people to communicate with. Connecting with part-time staff who don’t have corporate issued devices or email accounts, managing the rise of personal mobile devices at work, and trying to introduce more collaboration are some of the main challenges we’ve faced.

When we looked for solutions to these challenges, we decided on Google Apps because it was a great cultural fit, and it was intuitive, easy to maintain and packed with features. As many of our staff already use Gmail for their personal email account the training time is really minimal.

The sharing and collaboration features built into Google Apps and Google Docs are real pluses too. Whether our teams are in Sydney or Wellington, they'll be able to share and collaborate on documents in real-time, faster and more easily than ever before. We’re also looking forward to storing videos in Drive so when our CEO has an important announcement, we can record this for all our staff to review at a time that suits them. This is a great way to overcome some of the logistical challenges of having a part-time workforce in different time zones.

Overall, we see building community and fostering a collaborative culture as the greatest benefit to ‘Going Google.’ We’re looking forward to using Google Forms to get staff feedback and comments via regular staff engagement surveys and we’re even looking to extend our new collaborative approach to our interactions with suppliers and partners. Ultimately it’s about using the right tools so we can get down to running our business – and Google Apps lets us do that.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Bryson Koehler, CIO of The Weather Company, the parent company of The Weather Channel, and Weather Underground, the most popular sources of weather news and information on television and online. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Most people know The Weather Company from checking out the forecast on TV or from using our mobile app, but we actually do much, much more. Beyond our TV channel and online presence, we sell weather data to business and foreign governments, as well as sell graphic capabilities to local network affiliates. We’re a big, complex organization with a lot of smart people who need the right tools to do their work. It’s my job to make sure those needs are being met.

When I joined the company last summer, one of my first responsibilities was to get all our employees on the same email and collaboration platform. The Weather Company has grown quite a bit through acquisitions during the past year, leaving our 1,200 employees all over the world using a mixed bag of tools. Each business was still working as an independent entity, so getting everyone under the same technological umbrella was crucial to us moving forward.

The choice came down to Google Apps and Microsoft® Office 365. We knew there were strong allegiances to each platform within the company, so there was no clear winner at first. After taking a closer look at Office 365, though, it seemed like a set of individual tools rather than a fully integrated suite like Google Apps. On top of that, Google Apps’ single user licensing was far less complicated than Microsoft’s model. Ultimately, Google Apps was a better fit for our company.

About two months ago we rolled out Google Apps with the help of Google Enterprise partner, Cloud Sherpas. Though change management was definitely a large undertaking, we do feel that the switch brought the company together. It helped us untether people from the traditional corporate collaboration approach of searching through multiple versions and waiting as documents were passed from one to another - something I desperately wanted to do. The culture of our company and the IT department is changing, and Google Apps was a great catalyst to get that moving in the right direction.

We’ve only been live for a short time, but Google Apps has already changed how we work. Google Docs have caught on like wildfire, and people can work from anywhere as long as they have Internet. I see people bouncing around between their laptop, a tablet, their Android phone or whatever – it’s seamless. We’ve also started using Google Drive to replace personal Box and Dropbox accounts that people had been using to share documents, so we’ll have centralized control of our intellectual property. We’re going to roll out Google+ companywide to replace Yammer, although Google+ Hangouts have begun to spread organically. Our marketing, sales and PR teams all use Hangouts to meet, and one employee set up a Google Chromebox and a monitor to create a Hangout station in his office.

Google Apps has created a real sense of excitement at The Weather Company. People are really exploring and embracing it, and that’s exactly what I wanted to see. As we’re abandoning the traditional top-down IT department mindset, all I can do is provide a toolkit for people to work with. Google Apps gives them those tools and lets them work.


At work and school, being able to find things quickly is important. So today, Google Apps customers will have access to autocomplete predictions in your Gmail search boxes to make getting the information you want faster than ever before.

When you start typing in the Gmail search box, you’ll now see predictions display. Those predictions are based on the content of your email as well as past searches and contacts. So, if you always look for messages from your business partner or the title of your current project, you won’t wear out the keys on your keyboard by repeating the same search. For example, you may now see your coworker named Anna, your past search of annual report and announcement from a recent email you received after typing "ann" into the search box.

If Anna is in your contacts, you’ll see a picture of her and any other contacts to quickly make sure you’re choosing the right person, such as someone at your company and not a reporter or competitor who has the same name.

These features will be available globally over the next few days to Rapid Release domains.


Google Compute Engine gives developers everywhere access to Google's computing infrastructure. Now you can sign up online for Google Compute Engine with the purchase of Gold Support; you no longer need an invitation or a conversation with sales to get access. We’re also further reducing prices for all instance types by an average of 4%.

Starting at $400/month, Gold support gives you a direct relationship with our experienced support engineers to help you get started or troubleshoot issues across the Google Cloud Platform products.

Since announcing Compute Engine, we’ve expanded geographic coverage, added new instance types, released many new features, and made improvements behind the scenes. Sebastian Stadil of Scalr wrote, in a recent review:

“Google Compute Engine is not just fast. It’s Google fast. In fact, it’s a class of fast that enables new service architectures entirely."

We’re inspired by the awesome projects being created every day with Google Cloud Platform and can’t wait to see what you create next. If you’re ready to try Compute Engine today, sign up today.


Millions of businesses around the world rely on Google Apps to get work done every day. So, much like keeping Google search up and running, it’s a top priority for us to make sure Google Apps is available whenever (and wherever) you need it. For customers using Google Apps for Business, Education or Government, we offer a 99.9% availability guarantee, with zero scheduled downtime for maintenance. In 2010 and 2011, the actual availability for Gmail was significantly better than this guarantee. This was true again last year. In 2012, Gmail achieved 99.983% availability while at the same time adding dozens of new features. This translates to an average of just over seven minutes of service disruption per month over the last year, and most users experienced no disruption at all.  

We’re proud of our track record, but we know our work is never done. All our products are built by people -- and because humans aren’t perfect, no technology is ever perfect either. We work hard to make sure any disruptions are rare, limited in scale and quickly resolved. And in the unlikely event something does go wrong, it’s important for our users to know. To that end, you can see the current status of any Google Apps service on the Google Apps status dashboard, a public website, at any time.


One of the easiest ways to share old files and collaborate with others is to convert them to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. However, not everyone you work with has gone Google yet. So to help, Google Apps for Business can already edit Microsoft Office files using Quickoffice on an iPad, and starting today they can do the same on iPhone and Android devices. From Word to Excel to Powerpoint, you can make quick edits at the airport or from the back of a taxi and save and share everything in Google Drive.

In addition to bringing Quickoffice to new devices, it’s also now easier to find and use your Drive files from within the Quickoffice app. Sign in with your Google Apps for Business account and your Drive folders view will now include Shared With Me, Starred, Recent and any subfolders.

And in case you didn’t know, iPad and iPhone users can open and edit Office files directly from the Drive app. Just open Drive and select the file, make edits using Quickoffice and save it back to Drive.

Google Apps for Business users can download Quickoffice right now from the App Store and Google Play. We hope this makes it easier to work from anywhere on any device.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Crystal Brenner, Administrative Assistant for the Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds. See what other organizations that use the Google Search Appliance have to say.

Last year, Macomb County set out to improve public real estate search, to help property owners reduce the risk of real estate fraud, and make it easier for Macomb County property owners to protect their property rights. Along the way we may have created one of the nation's best and perhaps one of the first high-tech real estate records search and fraud detection tools. We were inspired to act by a CBS 60 Minutes exposé uncovering crucial ownership documents for real estate throughout the nation that are often bogus or even nonexistent.

In the past, Macomb County property records were available on paper or online in an electronic format that only allowed searching on a few, limited fields, such as owner name or property description, indexed differently throughout the years. Inconsistent indexing is an issue for registers of deeds throughout the nation, and it points to the need for a search solution that can find stored electronic deeds with ease.

In partnership with Xerox, we set out to do better and help owners detect potential fraud. We scanned every Macomb County real estate record - millions of public records, from dirt to present day. Because we wanted an intuitive, familiar search interface that would let us look quickly through millions of documents, we immediately chose the Google Search Appliance.

Called the “Super Index,” we launched a public prototype in September 2012. The Super Index currently includes millions of pages of public Macomb County real estate documents, going back all the way to 1818. And each year, we’ll add more than 180,000 new documents.

Users can search the Super Index at no charge. What makes it “super” is that searches may now include all recognized text on the documents, including witness and notary names. Once an individual finds the documents they’re looking for, and reviews a thumbnail to be sure it’s what they need, we either provide a link or send a PDF file of those public documents for $6 per document.

One user said, “This is great stuff! Once again, the Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deed’s office is providing the public with a useful tech-savvy resource to gain easy access to public information, with the convenience [of access] from one’s home or office.”

For many people, owning a home is a key part of the American Dream, and we wanted to give our citizens in Macomb the power to protect that dream. We took bold action to combat fraud and educate homeowners about their rights and property. With help from Xerox and the Google Search Appliance, Macomb County is making the search for the American Dream a little easier.

Join us for a Google Hangout On Air on April 24, 2013 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST to see for yourself how the Google Search Appliance is making a difference in our city.


Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Steve Johnston, president of Second City Communications, the business solutions division of the legendary improv theater company, The Second City, and our partner in yesterday’s April Fools’ joke. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

The Second City, the venerable Chicago comedy theatre known for its creative method and improvisation, is a far cry from a Silicon Valley start-up. Nonetheless, in a very real sense we’ve been in the “interactive” and “social collaboration” space for five decades. We believe in providing a great experience for our audience and are hardwired to innovate and attack convention whenever possible.

The Second City has been called the “Harvard of Comedy,” and our alumni list includes stars such as Alan Arkin, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Our business division, Second City Communications, brings the same audience-empowered approach to the boardroom, creating content marketing, entertainment and training programs for some of America’s best-known companies. You can see some of our handiwork on this blog.

Second City Communications has been using Google Apps for over a year. Apps provides the interactive collaboration with our clients that’s necessary to co-create compelling, engaging videos that enhance companies’ training communications. We begin by using Google Docs to get multiple companies brainstorming ideas around hot corporate topics such as ethics and compliance, as well as sales effectiveness. From there, we bring our special brand of humor into the mix. We then share scripts in Google Drive to get real-time feedback from clients, helping us make sure the videos resonate with employees and reflect real challenges in the workplace.

Because you can’t really get the full effect of a script without hearing it, we meet with clients over Google+ Hangouts. Our actors do fun “table read” sessions so clients can listen and react while we observe it all. Our clients make sure we talk the talk of their audiences and bring a whole new level of authenticity to the creative development process. We continue to create these videos, called RealBiz Shorts, with more than 250 Fortune 1000 clients, who use them to change behavior and transform company culture through smart comedy.

When you look at these training videos, you see something that’s not only humorous, but also anchored in reality. RealBiz Shorts get employees more engaged with existing programs. It’s like marketing for training! See for yourself.

It’s 2013, folks. New approaches for a new time. Google Apps plays a key part of our creative development process to build big ideas with our clients. It gives us vital tools to bring improv agility and nimbleness to enterprise collaboration, and helps us bridge the gap between comedy and the corporate world.

Funny thing is, it’s working. Beautifully.