Update: We're excited to announce that the new Gmail Contacts for Google Apps has launched for all Rapid Release users as of 4/7/11. Please continue to give us your feedback in the Comments below.

In our ever-connected world, working revolves around collaborating. It’s important to be able to quickly reach people in your network, speeding up the tasks you perform daily, like making a phone call or sending an email – whether you’re at your desk or on the go. To help with this, we’re rolling out an updated version of Contacts that makes it easier to use, organize and edit your work contacts in Gmail.

In addition to all of the improvements we made to Contacts for individual users, we’ve been hard at work on bringing additional, business-specific features to help you and your colleagues get in touch with contacts more easily. Now, you can:
  • Add new contact information that will default to “Work” instead of “Home” field types
  • View contact details from the domain directory together with the contact details that you’ve added yourself
  • Add contacts from the domain directory to your “My Contacts” list in a single click
  • Manage groups more easily by quickly adding email addresses to groups, and picking from a contact’s multiple email addresses to use on a group-by-group basis
  • Revert changes to your Contacts for up to 30 days in case you need to restore deleted or merged contacts, or undo an import

If you’re the Google Apps administrator for your organization, you can enable the new Contacts interface in Gmail for your users from the Service Settings > Contacts area of the next generation administrative control panel. It may take up to an hour for users to see the difference once you make the change.

Make collaboration easier today by switching to the new Gmail Contacts (and once you do, be sure to contact us with your feedback).

[cross-posted from the Google Docs blog]

Guest Post: Philip Greenspun is a pioneer in developing online communities and an educator who has taught electrical engineering and computer science courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1987.Today he explains how he used Google Docs to develop and distribute curricular materials and to support in-classroom discussion of student solutions.

In 1983, I began building applications to support multi-user collaboration over the Internet. When I began using the World Wide Web in 1993 I vowed never to write a native application program again and said "every desktop computer program going forward should simply run in a Web browser." Since the main reason to prepare a document was for others to view, I predicted that everyone would be using browser-based word processors and spreadsheet programs by the year 2000. I am still waiting for my "everyone goes to work in a flying car" prediction to come true also...

In January 2011, four of us were developing an entirely new course for MIT students, an intensive lab-based SQL programming and Android development class. All of us are proficient Web developers accustomed to authoring pages in standard text editors and publishing them on our own servers, but it turned out to be easier and more effective to use Google Docs to collaboratively develop course materials. Google Docs was more effective because simultaneous updates could proceed in different areas of a document and we weren't slowed down by having to do explicit check-ins with a standard version control system (or circulate drafts with names such as "DayOneProblems-final-version-by-philg-really-really-final"). Also, the "insert a comment" feature of Google Docs proved useful, e.g., when I wasn't sure if an example program was correct and wanted to ask a collaborator to check, but without leaving crud in the main body of the document.

We created two Google Docs folders the night before class: lessons, editable by us and view-only for students; workspace, editable by everyone. Into the "lessons" folder we moved the first day's assignment. In the "workspace" folder we created a "Day 1 Workspace" document intended for students to cut and paste code into. As each student walked into the classroom, we asked him or her to email a teacher from his or her Google Account (most students already had Gmail and some experience with Google Docs) and the teacher would share both folders with the new student, immediately enabling access to all lessons.

As the course materials had never been used before, they contained some errors and many sections that lacked sufficient hints or explanations. When we noticed these deficiencies, e.g., when a student asked a question, we would edit the problem set from a teacher's laptop and all students would immediately see the change on the projector and/or on their own screens.

Google Docs enabled us to distribute solutions incrementally. The first morning we created a "Day 1 Solutions (January 2011)" document and dragged it into the lessons (view-only for students) folder. As the day progressed, when 90 percent of the students were done with a problem, we would add the solution to the end of this document (by copying from another Google Doc, of course) so that students would have it in front of them and be prepared for the discussion.

The shared Google Docs workspace documents enabled us to have students paste their work into shared documents that could be used for projection and discussion and also for members of the class to try out each other's SQL queries.

To gather feedback at the end of the course, we simply created a feedback document and put it into the workspace folder, then used the "email editors/viewers" feature (from the Share menu) to ask students to add their thoughts, including whether they liked Google Docs ("great for sharing solutions"; "very effective"; "Generally yes, I did get a little confused with all the browser tabs I had open"; "very efficient and comfortable"; "green too").

We were technical people teaching a technical course, but everything that we did with Google Docs would have been easy for a person without any programming or HTML authoring background. Google Docs was an important asset for our course and significantly enhanced the in-classroom experience.

You can read more about our experience, including our wishlist, at

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Steve Stepp, IT Manager of Sun Windows, a manufacturer of high quality windows and doors serving Owensboro, Kentucky and surrounding areas. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

Sun Windows is a family-owned business that dates back to the 1930’s when V. E. Anderson, Sr. invented and built storm windows in his garage at night and sold them door-to-door during the day. Today, Sun Windows is run by his grandson, Frank Anderson, and offers an expansive product line of high quality, energy efficient windows and doors with a focus on customer service.

The window and door business is seasonal, following trends in new construction and peaking in summer. At the height, we have around 120 employees made up of about 80% production workers who manufacture the products, and 20% office staff and outside sales who use email and other office software regularly. Keeping everyone connected and communicating effectively is one of my main goals.

We originally used a local provider for web hosting and email and there was a lot of downtime when email just wouldn’t work. I’d get phone calls from individuals throughout the company and would have to contact our email provider about once a month. Adding to this, we received significantly more spam than good email. Sun Windows even got flagged as a spammer because all our emails went through the local provider. We’re a small company and everyone wears a lot of hats so these issues took up a lot of time I didn’t really have.

I used Gmail at home and had even set up Google Apps for my personal website so I knew about its robust spam-filtering and other great features. Given all the email problems we were having at work, I decided to switch the company to Google Apps and have never looked back. The amount of spam in our inboxes is almost nothing and having web-based email accessible from any Internet connection is a big plus for everyone. At the time of the switch, I hadn’t even considered the added benefits of other products like Google Calendar and Google Docs.

After setting up email, we quickly created shared calendars to keep various departments organized, track company events and schedule customer visits for the field service unit. Then we slowly started to use Google Docs. Most people in the company were familiar and comfortable with desktop office software but once they realized the power of collaborating and sharing documents online, almost everyone switched to Google Docs. Production line supervisors use a spreadsheet to track labor hours at the plant, and sales reps create and share customer presentations. We’ve also moved existing documents over to Google Docs which we use to store files of any type.

Now when new computers are purchased, I don’t renew our Microsoft® Office licences. The company saves money but even more importantly, I save time in administering licenses, installations, security patches, and training. Google Apps has been one of the smartest decisions I’ve made for Sun Windows and I continually look for new ways to take advantage of it to improve how we work.

Posted by Steve Stepp, IT Manager, Sun Windows

Millions of businesses are experiencing radical productivity gains with web-powered tools, and today Google Apps collaboration is ready for every employee. We’re bringing multi-person, simultaneous editing to the Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications that coworkers may still need from time to time. More people will be able to achieve a 100% web future entirely in Google Docs after learning the benefits of web-powered collaboration within traditional software.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office is now available to all users worldwide, letting two or more people work together on the same file at the same time in Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 or 2010 on Windows PCs. For example, you can edit a Word document’s table of contents from Dublin while coworkers adjust formatting and make revisions from Denver. Instead of bombarding each other with attachments and hassling to reconcile people’s edits, your whole team can focus on productive work together.

Google Cloud Connect vastly improves Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010, so companies can start using web-enabled teamwork tools without upgrading Microsoft Office or implementing SharePoint 2010.

Comparison of collaboration alternatives

Today we’re also introducing the 90-Day Appsperience program globally so businesses encumbered with 1990s technology can experience modern collaboration and the burst of productivity that’s possible now. Whether you manage IT for your whole business, lead a department, or manage a complex project like an industry event, a nominal fee covers 90-day unlimited use of Google Apps collaboration plus hands-on support from Google experts. To help companies measure the productivity impact of better teamwork -- and ultimately pay for what they really need instead of desktop software that could sit on the shelf -- the new collaboration dashboard in the Google Apps for Business and Education control panel provides aggregated activity metrics to administrators. Both Google Cloud Connect and this collaboration dashboard are available in English, with many more supported languages to follow soon.

This year we look forward to bringing you countless stories on the Google Enterprise Blog from schools, businesses and other organizations that are becoming much more productive with Google Apps. To get the wheels turning, check out the transformation that’s speeding ahead at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Join me for a live webinar on March 3rd, 2011 at 10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT to learn more about Google Cloud Connect and the 90-Day Appsperience program. Register to attend the live event.

Update: Many of you have also asked about availability for Macs. Unfortunately due to the lack of support for open APIs on Microsoft Office for Mac, we are unable to make Google Cloud Connect available on Macs at this time. We look forward to when that time comes so we can provide this feature to our Mac customers as well.


Cloud computing is very much a global phenomenon, and today we’d like to share a story from Latin America. Anhanguera Educational (Anhanguera Educacional Participações S.A), the largest private educational network in Latin America, has chosen Google Apps for Business to make communication and collaboration more dynamic for its 310,000 students, administrators and staff. Among other benefits, the move to Apps will help students prepare to use 100% web tools like Gmail and Google Docs in a business context when they graduate.

Here’s what the administrators of Anhanguera have to say. According to Ana Maria Costa, vice president of Academics, “With Google, we want to introduce new concepts into the educational process and break away from a few well-worn paradigms. One of the most relevant goals is to transform the role of the teacher, who ceases to be the primary actor and adopts the role of one who stimulates and guides, while the student, instead of being only a passive receiver, becomes an active participant in his own learning. Google Apps will help us stimulate self-directed and interactive learning, collaboration and mobility while making relationships between students and professors less hierarchical.”

Antonio Carbonari Netto, founder and president of Anhanguera’s Administrative Council said, “We want to offer young professionals who are studying at our institutions the opportunity to access the most advanced technological solutions in the market -- those that will contribute to their academic and professional development.”

The beat of cloud computing is increasing, insistent and irresistible, and it’s transforming the way we learn and do business around the world. You can find out more about why our customers agree on the Google Apps for Business website.

Adoption of Google Apps is accelerating around the world with over 3 million businesses that have gone Google. Google Apps Authorized Resellers play a critical role in helping businesses get started. As our partner community has more than doubled in the last year to over 2,500 partners in over 70 countries, partners have been seeking opportunities to demonstrate their expertise and competence to a growing customer base.

We are therefore happy to announce the Google Apps Certification Program, which recognizes IT professionals for demonstrated abilities to sell, deploy, develop, and support Google Apps. Available today globally, is the first of these certifications, the Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist, which certifies IT professionals who have demonstrated the fundamental knowledge and skills required to migrate to, configure, and deploy Google Apps.

“As we continue to build out our global Google Apps practice, it is essential for us to differentiate ourselves and to gain recognition for the great depth of Apps expertise we have developed with so many customers. The Google Apps Certification Program will help generate new client interest by highlighting our commitment to offering the highest-value consulting services to the market," explains Jon Hallett, CEO of Cloud Sherpas, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller.

Like Google Apps, this certification is 100% web – any IT professional with a browser and an Internet connection can register to take the online proctored exam. It is available in English now, and will soon be available in additional languages. To learn more, go to

Posted by Stephen Cho, Director, Google Apps Channels

Faced with increased demand for live traffic and road closure information, the State of Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has chosen to leverage Google Maps API Premier to combine and visualize geospatial data from multiple sources. Join us for a webinar on February 24th to learn why Google Maps API Premier was the ideal tool for presenting traffic and road-related data to the public. We’ll also highlight other ways that this product can be used in conjunction with other enterprise geospatial tools to build all sorts of effective, public-facing/public serving websites.

Register now for this webinar which runs on Thursday, February 24, 2:00PM EST/11:00AM PST. You will learn:
  • How the Iowa DOT has used Google Maps API Premier to unlock the value of siloed and stored geospatial data.
  • How the Iowa DOT has integrated Google Maps API Premier with Oracle Spatial and ESRI tools within the Enterprise.
  • How underlying geospatial data is managed throughout the Iowa DOT.

Who Should Attend:
Anyone in state and local government involved in map-based application development for public-facing websites. Other businesses and organizations looking to connect with the public using Google Maps API Premier will also find this webinar valuable.

Back in December we announced a new email continuity service that helps organizations running Microsoft Exchange® 2003 and 2007 Servers bolster the reliability of their email environments. Today, we’re excited to announce that Google Message Continuity now also supports Microsoft Exchange® 2010 Servers, helping to protect an even broader range of users from business continuity and email access disruptions.

Recent research conducted by the Radicati Group suggests that users of Microsoft Exchange® face on average over five hours of downtime a month, which is a combination of both unplanned outages and regularly scheduled downtime1. Let’s compare this to Gmail. Google Apps offers a service level agreement of 99.9% for all of its services. However, as we noted back in January, our own measurements showed that Gmail only experienced on average seven minutes of downtime per month throughout 2010 – 46 times less than an Exchange-based environment – which represented a total uptime average of 99.984% for the entire year. Google Message Continuity works by leveraging this outstanding record of reliability and extending it to Microsoft Exchange® users, allowing them to benefit from the availability and redundancy of Google’s services.

For more information on Google Message Continuity and how a cloud-based continuity solution can help your email environment remain more secure, accessible, and reliable, stop by to learn more.

1. The Radicati Group, 2010. "Corporate IT Survey – Messaging & Collaboration, 2010-2011"

Posted by Adrian Soghoian, Associate Product Marketing Manager, Google Postini Services

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO of Hammock, a content and custom media firm in Nashville, Tennessee. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

At Hammock, we develop and manage a wide array of content, helping our clients engage with customers to increase loyalty and extend the length of the relationship. Since I founded the company 20 years ago, our work has expanded from print newsletters and magazines to include a range of digital media, such as websites, blogs, event media, and more. We’ve grown to 20 full-time employees and have developed a network of over 1,000 freelancers across the country. Technology has played an important role in what we offer our clients and how we work together as a team.

A couple of years ago, when our Technology Director left the company, we decided to experiment with using an outsourced solution for networking and systems so our internal technology staff could focus on development and creative duties. The experience gave us confidence to outsource other parts of IT so when the email server became unreliable and couldn't filter spam as well as our personal Gmail accounts, we started researching alternative solutions. With the help of an external IT service, we unplugged the email server and switched to Google Apps.

Fixing our spam problem – which Gmail has done amazingly well – would have been enough to make the switch to Google Apps worth it. We did a cost analysis per employee, however, and keeping servers in-house for just email would have been more expensive than the entire suite of Google Apps. Plus, adding calendars, contacts and documents, all of which sync nicely to our smart phones, tablets, and home computers has changed the way we work for the better.

Collaborating across our expansive network of contributors is critical and most of us use Google Docs for sharing and updating documents. Spreadsheets have also helped us manage our own newsletter subscriptions – a Google form is embedded on our website to collect information from individuals who want to receive our newsletter. Information from the form is imported directly into a Google spreadsheet that we access internally.

The ecosystem around Google Apps is helping us further meet our unique needs. We use Manymoon, a 3rd party application from the Google Apps Marketplace, to help with project management and it has resolved a number of workflow issues. Manymoon is a little like an in-house social network where, instead of setting up pages related to your favorite club or cause, you set up project pages where you can consolidate information and track progress. Because Manymoon integrates directly with Google Apps, it’s easy to add Google documents, calendar entries and emails related to a project.

For some people in the company, there was a reluctance to give up traditional desktop applications. However, it has been easy for me to evangelize Google Apps internally and I think we'd all agree now that the switch has had a positive impact on how we work.

Posted by Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO, Hammock

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is Paul R. Verkuil, the tenth Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency whose mission is providing expert advice and recommendations to improve the federal government. He was sworn in by Vice President Biden on April 6, 2010. ACUS has just launched a brand new website,, which takes advantage of the collaboration capabilities of Google Apps for Government.

The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) is an independent federal agency dedicated to creating a public-private partnership designed to make government work better. ACUS has had a long history of saving the government and taxpayers money. In 2009, ACUS was revived by Congress after a 15-year hiatus to bring creative thinkers together to focus on how innovative technology, transparency, and collaboration can help us improve the operations of our federal government.

To build a 21st century agency, we need 21st century technology. To that end, ACUS has recently developed a new website designed to engage the public and solicit ideas from citizens across the county, using video, social media tools, and more. We have integrated Google Calendar into our site to make information about our public meetings readily accessible.

Bringing together multiple perspectives and a wide variety of ideas in order to arrive at the best solutions is another key to our success. The conference itself includes representatives from 50 federal executive departments, agencies, and independent regulatory boards and commissions, as well as 40 members of the public. We also have a nimble team of 15 staff, who bring their own innovative ideas to our mission.

This week, ACUS just launched a collaborative workspace for members and staff using Google Apps for Government to share documents, calendars and websites. We chose Google Apps because of its intuitive, easy-to-use interface. What’s more, Google Apps’ FISMA certification and accreditation gave us confidence it could meet our security needs.

We’re excited to be delivering new ideas for how to improve government efficiency and to make government less intrusive and costly. The collaboration capabilities from Google Apps will allow us to be a model of effectiveness for those we hope to help.

Editor's Note: We're pleased to welcome guest blogger Brian Hobbs, IT Director of Hunter Douglas. Headquartered in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Hunter Douglas is the leading manufacturer of custom-made window fashions in North America. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google Cloud Calculator.For more than 60 years, starting with our invention of the aluminum venetian blind in 1946, we have been designing custom window fashions for our customers, based on personal consultations and measurements. At Hunter Douglas quality and innovation are very important to us. We knew when we started looking at Google Apps that we’d be getting both.

Prior to moving 3,000 employees to Google Apps, we were using Novell Groupwise for email and calendar services, but this presented numerous challenges. First, Groupwise didn’t integrate easily with other applications. To continue to grow and work in more than 30 offices and plants across North America, we needed a platform that we could build on. We were also lacking the access and mobility that a good web application provides. Our employees wanted to easily access their email and calendars while on the road and out of the office with no disruption. Providing mobile access was a priority for us. Reliability and business continuity were also a concern. We were managing email servers at each of our locations and we knew if a server went down, business would stop until we were able to bring it back up. That wasn’t something we wanted to worry about. Finally, total cost of ownership was far less with Google Apps. Our return on investment is just over one year. The money we were able to save by switching to Google’s secure, web-based products combined with the value of Google Apps makes for a real win.

We’re just getting started with Google Apps, but already our employees have so much more flexibility now that all of their information is on the web. Because so many employees were already Gmail users, the transition has been extremely smooth. Plus, we’ve had the help of Google Apps reseller, Cloud Sherpas, to assist with deployment and provide materials and documentation for employees who are a bit less savvy when it comes to new technology.

Our IT Department is happy because now they can focus on more strategic projects instead of just maintaining servers, and our employees are happy because Google Apps is easy to use and accessible from any computer or mobile device. We’re happy to say that Hunter Douglas has gone Google.


Today our guest blogger is Ron Kaufman, Director of Information Services for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. We’ll hear from Ron on the benefits his department enjoys by migrating 420 users to Google Apps.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) oversees 26 state parks and a variety of wildlife areas, nature centers, and state fishing lakes with roughly 420 employees. The department supports multiple offices and remote employees such as natural resource officers, field biologists, various biological technicians and others that rely on mobile devices quite frequently to manage state lands and patrol state lakes, survey species and help improve habitats for wildlife. Because many of these employees work in the field, from their homes or vehicles, they are not always in areas where they can plug in a computer and access the Internet easily.

Having used Microsoft Exchange for many years, and then switched to an open source solution for five years, KDWP decided to test a cloud-based solution to improve collaboration and efficiency. We picked Google Apps for its broad capabilities and simplicity to deploy and use. The initial 45 test users were very pleased with the availability of the cloud tool suite. Being able to access files from any web browser and the additional calendaring and global directory functionalities played a big part in the department’s ultimate decision to go Google. Working with Google Apps Partner SADA Systems, KDWP was able to migrate 420 users to the production environment last summer in just two months.

We started to see immediate benefits, even while employees were still learning about Google Apps’ full capabilities. People working from different locations are now able to collaborate easily on the same document or spreadsheet online. We no longer need to mail copies of our budget spreadsheet back and forth by snail mail or as an attachment in email. Using Google Docs and video chat, employees 200 miles apart are able to collaborate as though they’re meeting in person. Since the applications now live in the cloud, meaning they are delivered over the Internet and accessed in a web browser, we worry much less about file size limitations, server downtime, technology upgrades or maintenance issues.

Before the migration, our network administrator was spending 20% of his time on maintaining email servers and clients. That has been cut down to roughly 5%, a considerable time savings. Our IT can now focus on more meaningful initiatives.

Since we launched data layers in Google Earth Pro, we’ve seen strong and steady growth in use. To make the data even more valuable to our users, we're providing an update that greatly expands coverage for all layers. We hope you enjoy the data refresh!

If you’re new to Google Earth Pro, watch a video about the layers or download a free trial and explore the layers first-hand.

Here’s what’s new:
U.S. Parcel Data from DataQuick:
  • Greater geospatial coverage: 6% increase in the number of parcels attributes available country-wide
  • 8 new parcel attributes, including lot size, roof type, and tax information.
  • Ability to purchase additional data from DataQuick from within Google Earth Pro

U.S. Daily Traffic Counts from Market Planning Solutions Inc.:
  • New: Traffic counts now available for 2010
  • Update: 14x more traffic counts available for 2009
  • Update: 2x more traffic counts for 2008

U.S. Demographic Data from The Nielsen Company:

  • Current year demographics data updated to 2010
  • Five-year demographics data updated to 2015

Happy travels!

Pete Giencke, GIS Data Engineer, The Google Earth Team

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post from Tom Allebach, Executive Director for Manna on Main Street, a community service organization that serves the needy in the greater North Penn community outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA).

Manna on Main Street was founded in 1981 and provides a soup kitchen, food cupboard, and a variety of other programs to help individuals in need. Our vision for Manna on Main Street is "that everyone might be fed." As we need to have every dollar possible directed to helping people, software to support our organization needs to be affordable, work with our existing applications, and be easy to access and use for our staff and 1000 volunteers.

Two solutions that have changed the way we work with our volunteers are Google Docs for creation and sharing of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and SAP StreamWork, a collaborative decision making application available from the Google Apps Marketplace. They have access whether they're in a soup kitchen, the office, home, or on the go. These tools have helped Manna on Main Street to work more efficiently and collectively, thus allowing us to create and deliver more programs to help those in need.

After experiencing the value of Google Docs, we learned about the integrations with SAP StreamWork through the Google Apps Marketplace. With SAP StreamWork, we can apply structure to our discussions including tracking activities, pro/con tables, SWOT analyses, send out e-mail alerts and polls to drive fast, meaningful results. It provides a way for our staff to connect with the board of directors and supporters for key committees, and has many features for managing private, directed activities that drive participation, planning, and decisions with our volunteers. Like Google Docs, it’s easy to use and has been adopted by participants with varying levels of technology experience.

Google Docs is integrated directly into SAP StreamWork, making it even easier for Manna on Main Street and its volunteers to work seamlessly, collectively, and from anywhere. With these new capabilities our board of directors and building and resource committees are now driving a fundraising program to help Manna move to a new facility, dramatically increasing our ability to feed and serve more people in need.

We realize that much work remains to be done to continue to serve those in need, and we continue to give thanks to all of you who help in that service. We also thank Google and SAP for helping small organizations with big goals such as ours.

Posted by Tom Allebach, Executive Director for Manna on Main Street

Editor’s Note: Since today is one of the more popular days for wining and dining, we invited Jeff Munsey, co-owner and Vice President of Pithy Little Wine Co., to tell us about his company’s move to Google Apps. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google Cloud Calculator.

Together with my wife, Felicia, we started Pithy Little Wine Co. a couple of years ago with the goal of crafting great tasting wines that represented the diversity of California’s wine country. We’ve worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years combined and my wife is a third-generation California farmer, giving us a great foundation on which to build a small family winery. We chose the name Pithy because its definition, concise and forcefully expressive, sums up our business and winemaking philosophy. Since then we have grown our business to include other brands - Fortuity, Pithy Little Soda Works and Wino Brand.

Our focus is dominated by our passion for great customer service and compelling products. Managing servers and worrying about email outages aren’t on that list. Knowing our email is always under control allows us to focus more on what’s important - our customers.

Gmail’s reliability gives us the peace of mind that we’ll always be able to respond to our customers right away. We live on the California Central Coast where the occasional bad storm or high winds can cause power outages. Additionally, our winery tasting room is located in a historic building in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo. Between bad weather and old wiring we can’t always rely on our server battery back up to keep our email and website up and running when the power goes out. Our ecommerce orders flow through our email. When we receive an online order or a customer submits a contact form, we get an email alerting us to areas where attention is needed. Running email downtime could delay a response to a customer order or question. With Google Apps’ record for reliability and no planned down time, we don’t worry about servers going down and disrupting our business.

We are days away from launching a whole new part of our business called Drinkwell Creative, a designer wine label program that develops custom wine labels for individuals and businesses. Prospective client inquiries are sent instantly from our website to our corporate Gmail account. Gmail services provide us with the security of knowing that no leads will be lost or delayed due to downtime.

What we enjoy most about Google Apps is not being tied down. It is really important to us as small business owners to be able to contact people from any device, wherever we are. We travel a lot for business, often working at hotels or events. With Google Apps, we know we can get our email, calendar and documents on any of our phones or devices from wherever our business takes us.

Google Apps is always there, even when we’re not looking. During a week like this, when we are shipping wine club orders, Valentine’s Day gifts, and preparing to launch a whole new segment of our business, email, calendar and document sharing are the last thing on our minds.

Over three million businesses have gone Google to help their employees become more productive, and more companies, schools and other organizations are coming onboard at a record clip. We love hearing stories from customers that switch to Google Apps over their lunch break, but still we know we can make it even easier for organizations to transition. This week we simplified the process for administrators with a brand new setup wizard.

Now when you sign up for Google Apps, the setup wizard will greet you in the administrative control panel. The interactive guide can walk you through all the key configuration options, from creating user accounts to activating email, migrating your existing data to Google Apps and configuring mobile devices. Whether you want to test the waters with a group of pilot users or you’re ready to fully deploy today, the setup wizard will help you manage the roll-out strategy that’s best for your organization. The wizard includes progress indicators so that you can easily come back to the setup tab to continue where you left off.

So if you recently signed up, are a seasoned administrator, or are just considering Google Apps, check out the new setup wizard. We'll be adding more content on an ongoing basis, so you may find it helpful even if you’ve already made the switch to Google Apps. Google Apps resellers can also use the guide to streamline deployments while developing a customized deployment plan for their customers if needed.

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Tom Dey, co-Founder of DeyFischer Consulting in Missouri. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

A typical day for a DeyFischer consultant doesn’t often involve our corporate offices, and they’re rarely in the same city as the week before. Our more than 50 consultants are out in the field, working side-by-side with clients around the world to deliver SAP business solutions. Back at our headquarters in Missouri, and SAP retail office in Atlanta, we have DeyFischer business managers, recruiters and an administrative team – but no IT personnel on staff.

At any given time across the company, we’re operating in dozens of countries and time zones. Before Google Apps, we were using a variety of different email clients and calendar systems – it was a free-for-all when it came to which office tools individuals wanted to use. Supporting all these tools was very labor-intensive. Our administrative team had to send each new consultant instructions on how to set up their email client so we could forward DeyFischer email to them. Corporate contacts and calendars, which are vital in our business, were sent out only once a month because sharing them was so cumbersome.

With Google Apps, communication is seamless and our administrative team can go back to its core job: driving revenue for the company, rather than serving as a help desk. To set up Google Apps, we worked with Umzuzu, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller. Umzuzu designed a strategy to help us transition to the cloud that included migrating old emails and comprehensive training for all employees. The whole process was painless and during it all, we had no downtime or lost emails – which our employees were grateful for!

Part of the transition included migrating our more than 3,500 contacts over to Google Apps. With advice and technical support from Umzuzu, we implemented Floreysoft’s Shared Contacts application from the Google Apps Marketplace. It’s integrated directly with Google Apps so when someone at DeyFischer adds a contact to the database, it’s immediately available to consultants across the company.

With Google Apps, communications have changed for the better and employees are now more productive in the office and on the road where they can easily access email, calendar and other important documents on their laptops or mobile phones. Scheduling is even easier with many consultants using Google Calendar to send meeting invitations directly to their clients.

We’re growing fast and Google Apps is helping us keep up the pace. Unlike before, email accounts are now created quickly and easily, and new employees are directed to a welcome site created with Google Sites. This frees the management and administrative teams to focus on hiring exceptional consultants rather than on-boarding new ones. Google Apps is helping us expand and reach new heights.

Posted by Tom Dey, co-Founder, DeyFischer Consulting

Governments in 38 states have adopted Google Apps for Government. Today we’ll hear from Kevin Krajewski, Deputy Director of MIS, and Rochelle Lyon, Systems Administrator for the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Located in Oakland County, Michigan, Rochester Hills features a quality of life and a thriving commerce that few communities its size can match. The city features quality housing; award winning school districts; over 80 miles of linked pathways and a regional interlinking rails-to-trails system; and an abundance of cultural, historical, educational, medical and entertainment venues. Rochester Hills is situated in Automation Alley, Michigan's premier technology cluster, and one of ten SmartZones in Michigan.

Even with all of this going for us, we’re no stranger to the budget issues facing governments everywhere. All city staff have been challenged by our Mayor and City Council to find ways to be more efficient and reduce operational costs. That’s one of the reasons why we’re so excited to go Google: Google Apps for Government will save us an estimated $50,000 over the next six years compared to upgrading and maintaining our Microsoft Exchange email system.

Google Apps also simplifies our IT infrastructure and reduces the support costs. We eliminated two servers and the associated operating system and application software. That translates into less equipment and software to patch and replace in the future, which makes our day-to-day maintenance less time consuming and our next network upgrade less complicated.

City employees benefit from easy access to the applications from anywhere they have an Internet connection. With a training portal built in Google Sites, staff can learn whenever and wherever they have the time. We expect to use Google Video in the near future to provide training and informational videos to staff allowing them to learn at their own pace.

Rochester Hills selected Onix Networking as our implementation partner. In order to keep the costs low, we did most of the implementation in-house, with Onix providing support during the process as needed. It took about three weeks last September to move all 200 employees to Google Apps and Postini for email filtering & archiving. We also trained our staff on the features of Google Apps and answered questions. Overall the transition went as smoothly as we had hoped it would.

After almost three months since going live on Google Apps for Government I can say that we are very happy with our decision move to the world of 100% web.

By Kevin Krajewski, Deputy Director of MIS, City of Rochester Hills, and Rochelle Lyon, Systems Administrator for the City of Rochester Hills

We’re back with App Tuesday, and a lot has happened since our last post. Over the past couple months, we’ve been busy growing the Google Apps Marketplace to include new apps like SAP’s StreamWork and 20+ new education-focused apps in the new education category.

This App Tuesday, we welcome a number of new apps that were added to the Marketplace in the past month, including apps for financial tracking, employee recruiting and mentoring, and productivity. As always, all installable Marketplace apps are integrated with Google Apps and offer single sign-on convenience, giving users hassle-free access through the Google Apps universal navigation bar (see image below).

We wanted to highlight a few apps in the last month that integrate with users’ Gmail inbox and synchronize with Google Contacts:

  • Celigo Gmail Sync for NetSuite provides a seamless integration between Gmail and NetSuite, allowing Gmail users to locate, add and edit NetSuite records and quickly attach messages to those records directly from within Gmail.
  • Zoho Books gives businesses the ability to manage their accounting online with complete visibility of their financial positions and the inflow and outflow of money.
  • Chronus Mentor enables organizations to run hi-impact mentoring programs in a forward-thinking and cost-effective manner.

Other notable new apps are Zoho Recruit, an easy to use applicant tracking system (ATS), Bookeo, an online meeting scheduler, and Travel Expenses Instant App, an expense reporting app.

Check out the Google Apps Marketplace to explore and install these new apps, or one of the more than 250 additional apps. If you've #gonegoogle and tried the #appsmarketplace, let other users know which apps you recommend via Twitter, or submit your suggestions for additional apps.

Posted by Harrison Shih, Google Apps Marketplace Team

Editor’s note: Woodcraft Supply is one of the nation’s oldest and largest suppliers of quality woodworking tools and supplies, offering more than 20,000 products through its retail stores, catalog, and website. We’ve invited today’s guest blogger, Nancy Miller, VP of Internet Sales and Development for Woodcraft Supply, to talk about how Google has helped her increase search revenue and transform Woodcraft’s online store. To learn more about her experience, read the case study.

At Woodcraft, we strive to provide the best experience for our customers, which means helping them find the right tool for the project. To this end, our retail stores are staffed with knowledgeable woodworkers. Online, we need a powerful search engine.

Prior to our switch to Google Commerce Search, Woodcraft had been using another popular third-party search solution - but we just weren’t seeing the same level of satisfaction on our website as we were in our stores. Visitors to our site often couldn’t find the products they were looking for, and our support team fielded a lot of complaints. Our customers were frustrated and our conversions suffered so we decided to make a change.

After thorough research, we picked Google to host our e-commerce search; their service provided better results, improved rankings, and an intuitive administrator interface. Google Commerce Search is simpler to maintain and much more effective than our old solution - even before customization. In fact, during our testing period we moved half of our traffic to Google Commerce Search and left the remainder on our existing solution – and with Google our conversions from search were 27.7 percent higher and our search revenues were up 34 percent!

Beyond providing a multifaceted search experience with better results, and increasing our online sales, Google Commerce Search has made our customers and employees much happier with our website. The complaints have virtually disappeared, giving us more time to focus on our passion: woodworking.

Above: Nancy Miller, Kyle Crabtree, Chris Brown, Matt Hall, Steve Markle, September Fleming, and Daniel Pennock with their latest woodworking project.

We talk a lot about “going Google”, and with more schools and universities – like Ann Arbor Public Schools, Bryant University, Bucknell University, Henry Ford Community College, NYU, Oklahoma State University, and Southern Oregon University – migrating to Google Apps for Education every day, we want to help make it as easy (and fun) as possible to make the move.

Whether you are just thinking about launching Apps, or you’re toasting to your first graduating class after four years in the cloud – it’s always a good idea to educate your users about the new ways they can teach and learn with Google Apps. With that in mind, we’ve created the new Guide to Going Google which provides tools and resources that help students, faculty, staff and alumni make the most of your transition. The guide outlines six steps to successfully going Google: technical deployment, outreach, training, getting the word out, going live, and staying up to date. We designed this guide to be helpful for everyone from a 4th grade teacher in a classroom that’s just learning about Google Apps, to a university CIO that’s been using Apps for years.

Of course, if you’re still evaluating hosted collaboration tools for your school, and want to understand why so many schools have already gone Google, take a minute to hear what CIOs at Kent State, Brandeis, North Carolina State and U.C. Riverside are saying about making the move to Apps:

P.S. For those schools who have already gone Google, we'd love to hear and see your creative approaches to making the transition successful. Maybe you brought your mascot the a faculty training like they did at Brown University; or had a special group of on-the-ground trainers like the Creek Squad. Maybe you did something bold like NC State who created a graffiti wall to mark the occasion of your launch. Let us know how you’ve gone Google, so we can help other schools can get inspired, too.

Posted by Dana Nguyen and Miriam Schneider, Apps for Education team