Today, all types of businesses rely on geographic information to make better decisions about their customers, products and processes. As part of our ongoing effort to make geographic information accessible and useful, we offer the Google Maps API Premier to businesses that want to integrate Google Maps directly into their own applications and websites. Interactive maps have become critical to many basic business functions from asset tracking in the logistics industry to inventory planning in retail.

Earlier this week, we announced a new collaboration with SAP aimed at helping enterprise customers use Google’s mapping services with SAP’s business analytics software. As this demo from SAP shows, the Google Maps API lets companies visualize geographic data more easily, leading to better business decisions. Access to SAP and Google tools on tablets and other mobile devices means that employees can review their business data whenever and wherever the need arises.

Google is committed to helping businesses and software vendors build, run and support innovative applications that involve huge data sets. These “big data” sets require massive storage and processing power, a task Google’s cloud infrastructure is uniquely well suited to handle. Today, in addition to the Google Maps API, Google also provides the Google Prediction API and Google Storage for Developers to support businesses working with their important big data. Like the Google Maps API, businesses and developers can use these services to process data or build applications.


Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day - a humble holiday for all the men and women who keep our IT systems churning and burning. At Google, we’ve had the opportunity over the years to work with many talented teams of SysAdmins, and across the board two things are true: these folks care deeply about technology and giving people the best tools to work together.

We’ve heard stories of teams who spent thousands of hours managing email systems, dealing with laptops going haywire, sorting through disaster recovery scenarios, patching servers and software, working with employees frustrated over lost data, resetting passwords, archiving mail, and managing other tasks fearlessly.

The most enjoyable part of my job has been helping these hard-working teams recover extra time in their days, and making their budgets go further (while helping them look good to executives!) by moving to the cloud. We’ve heard great stories about teams who had so much leftover time that they went out for haircuts and some of them even had time to choreograph a dance to our Gmail Motion April Fool’s joke.

Motorola’s Sr. Director of IT Strategy and Services, Jason Ruger, getting his hair cut after moving to Google Apps.

Here are some of our favorite stories over the past year:

  • Andrew Murrey, VP of IT Infrastructure, Cinram: “Since moving to Google Apps, my IT team is much happier. We previously had 16 full-time people managing our messaging systems, spending about 8,000 hours per year backing up email, fixing file storage problems, or managing server issues. We now need only two folks to look after messaging and the other 14 are now more focused on business-critical projects. They’re so happy they wear Google t-shirts about once a week!”
  • Dan Moore, CIO, Quality Distribution: “The lower hardware requirements of web enabled applications allow our IT department to spend more time delivering improvements to the user experience. One of our first examples of this was our implementation of video and voice chat via Google Talk into our driver recruiting process.”
  • Luke Leonhard, Web Services Manager, Brady Corp: “Our jobs went from constraining and limiting people’s usage to making sure everyone uses these tools as effectively as possible to be as productive as possible.” Check out the photo of the Brady SysAdmin team below.

Google and the Brady Corporation team during Google Apps Go Live

To all of the SysAdmins out there supporting the more than 30 million users of Google Apps, our hats are off to you. So serve up the ice cream and cake, and celebrate the hard work of your SysAdmin today.



We’ve all been frustrated by technology that gets slower, less reliable and less useful over time. Google Apps is different – it actually gets better automatically week after week without patches or updates to manage. People can absorb this stream of innovation without being distracted from their workflow, so this month we’re taking a look back to highlight the most interesting ways that Google Apps has grown up over time. Last week, we started with Gmail and Google Calendar.

Today we’ll break down how Google Docs and Sites support better teamwork, mobile productivity, ease of use and trustworthiness – four areas where Google Apps excels. We’re holding a webinar next Thursday to explore these developments (details below), so join us if you’re interested in learning more. We hope you’ll find a few capabilities here that you didn’t know about before, or haven’t tried in some time.

Designed for Teams
Google Docs and Sites were built from the ground up to make teamwork seamless. Being able to simultaneously edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations without the hassles of attachments is just the start.
  • Great documents come from great discussions, so in addition to collaborative editing, Google Docs also enables conversations right alongside your content. Comments can be directed to specific co-editors, who can then respond in the document’s discussion panel or over email.
  • Sometimes you want to collaborate freely with others in a spreadsheet, but other situations call for a bit more control. Data validation lets you enforce cell input restrictions. You can also protect sheets – making them view-only – or hide sheets entirely within a collaborative workbook.
  • Forms in Google Docs also offer a structured way of collecting information in a spreadsheet from others. Questions can be multiple choice or open-ended, and your surveys can include branching logic to display different questions to a respondent depending on how they respond to earlier questions.
  • When a document, spreadsheet or presentation isn’t able to truly capture an idea, try a collaborative drawing. The same real-time co-editing found in those other formats is part of the drawing editor, too.
  • Across documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings, revision history lets you see any edit made by any collaborator since the file was created, which comes in handy when you need to revert changes or view a previous version.
  • Google Sites can really bring a collection of information together neatly – including embedded documents, spreadsheets and presentations – into a collaborative team, project or public website. Anyone with edit access can contribute and share, no programming skills required.
  • In today’s world of distributed contributors, working across language barriers can be critical. With automatic document translation, site translation, and even a translation spreadsheet function all powered by Google Translate, being productive in multiple languages has never been easier.
  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, so we added built-in analytics within Google Docs and Google Sites, which provides content owners with aggregate stats and metrics about who’s accessing their files and sites.
  • Beyond collaborative documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings, you can upload and share any type of file with Google Docs, including pictures, videos, and special file formats like CAD drawings. Simply upload to Google Docs and decide who should have access. You can even set permissions to a mailing list, which automatically adjusts access as individuals are added to and removed from the group.
  • Shared collections is a great way to efficiently manage sharing access across a group of files. Instead of sharing file-by-file, you can share a whole folder of information all at once.
  • And if you’re looking to bring more efficient collaboration to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint without upgrading to Office 2010, give Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office a try.

Productive Anywhere
Mobile access to email, contacts and calendar information is pretty common now, but access to documents, spreadsheets, presentations and team sites across all major smartphone platforms is unique to Google Apps.
  • Unlike software and files that live on one specific computer, you can access and work with information in Google Docs and Google Sites from any computer without hassles like software licenses and VPN connections.
  • Beyond simple mobile document viewing, you can edit documents and spreadsheets from Android and iOS devices. This can be a faster way to make a simple change than firing up your laptop.
  • The Google Docs mobile app for Android allows you to browse, search, open and share your Google Docs files from your phone or tablet. This app even lets you convert mobile phone pictures into editable documents.
  • Google Sites are also optimized for smaller screens through automatic mobile rendering. When you’re viewing a site on a small screen, we can automatically display a version of the site that’s easier to use on your phone or tablet.

Simple & Affordable
Google Docs and Sites bring together the best of two worlds: the power of the web and the richness of traditional software applications, all at a dramatically lower cost than buying, installing and managing client software.

Pure & Proven Cloud
As with Gmail, the collaboration tools in Google Apps for Business are backed by a service uptime guarantee and transparent system performance information. And compared to sharing information using old tools like thumb drives, Google Apps can help businesses keep their data a whole lot safer, too.
  • Our 99.9% uptime SLA guarantees reliable access to Google Apps, and our commitment doesn’t have any exceptions for planned maintenance. This is because our systems are designed to handle updates without interrupting service for customers.
  • Our publicly available status dashboard offers transparency about the health of our systems, and 24x7 phone and online support is there when you need it.
  • Google goes to extensive lengths to protect the customer information in our data centers, including extensive personnel background checks, security-focused processes, advanced technology, and around-the-clock physical protection.
  • Google Docs and Sites have completed a SAS 70 Type II audit, and have achieved the U.S. Federal goverment’s FISMA certification.
  • With default https connections, your information is encrypted as it travels from your web browser to our servers. This helps protect your data by making it unreadable to others sharing your network.
  • Google Apps accounts can be further secured with 2-step verification, which requires users to sign in with something they know (their password) and something they have (their mobile phone). With verification codes available via SMS, even basic mobile phones can serve as powerful authentication devices.

As with Gmail and Google Calendar, Google Docs and Sites have been on a fast innovation path (85 improvements last year alone!) that you just can’t get from typical software upgrades every three to five years. So if you missed any of these new features over the years, give them a go – you’re bound to find a few that’ll help you work more efficiently. And if you’d like to hear more about many of these updates, join us for a free webinar next Thursday.

A look back as we move ahead: Google Docs and Google Sites
Thursday, August 4th, 2011
9:00 a.m. PDT / 12:00 p.m. EDT
Register here


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and the Online Security Blog)

Earlier this year, we introduced a security feature called 2-step verification that helps protect your Google Account from threats like password compromise and identity theft. By entering a one-time verification code from your phone after you type your password, you can make it much tougher for an unauthorized person to gain access to your account.

People have told us how much they like the feature, which is why we're thrilled to offer 2-step verification in 40 languages and in more than 150 countries. There’s never been a better time to set it up: Examples in the news of password theft and data breaches constantly remind us to stay on our toes and take advantage of tools to properly secure our valuable online information. Email, social networking and other online accounts still get compromised today, but 2-step verification cuts those risks significantly.

We recommend investing some time in keeping your information safe by watching our 2-step verification video to learn how to quickly increase your Google Account’s resistance to common problems like reused passwords and malware and phishing scams. Wherever you are in the world, sign up for 2-step verification and help keep yourself one step ahead of the bad guys.

To learn more about online safety tips and resources, visit our ongoing security blog series, and review a couple of simple tips and tricks for online security. Also, watch our video about five easy ways to help you stay safe and secure as you browse.


ITV, the largest commercial television network in the UK is moving from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps as part of its broader strategy and five year Transformation Plan to change the ways the company works. The move will improve communication, fuel collaboration and stimulate creativity throughout the organization.

The media industry thrives on change and is constantly reinventing itself. Add to it its mobile, often freelance or contracting workforce, and you will find that old ways to communicate and collaborate simply won’t cut it any longer. With a suite of applications that are designed for teams and built for the web, ITV decided that Google Apps was the perfect match for their transformational requirements.

Google Apps will give ITV employees (up to 7,000 permanent staff and contractors) more flexibility in how they communicate and share information across the business. Gmail with the integrated instant messaging tool will make communication easier; Google Calendar will boost efficiency by helping to schedule meetings and events with shared calendars; Google Docs will allow staff to create, edit and share documents, presentations and spreadsheets in real time; and Google Sites and Google Video for Business will also facilitate collaboration.

ITV employees will also use Google Chrome as its standard browser. The company will begin to roll out the new technology over the next 18 months.

Paul Dale, ITV’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “When I arrived at ITV, one of my tasks was to implement a company-wide plan for workplace technology in order to enable our staff to deliver ITV’s Transformation Plan. The move to Google Apps will offer us the depth and scope of service we need to transform our internal ways of working across the business.”

ITV is the latest UK media company to make the move to Google Apps, following The Telegraph and The Guardian.


In May we announced our participation in the TechAmerica Foundation’s Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD2). The Commission had a three-month mandate and we are excited to unveil the finished report entitled Cloud First, Cloud Fast: Recommendations for Innovation, Leadership and Job Creation.

This report is an important roadmap to assist the US government with moving toward more rapid cloud adoption while continuing to promote commercial innovation. More than 70 companies worked together to provide the government with detailed recommendations—and Google is proud to have been a member. The report consists of four key policy areas: Trust, Transformation, Transparency, and Transnational Data Flows and seeks to address barriers within each area that hinder cloud adoption. The Commission also produced a “Buyer’s Guide” to help government agencies evaluate cloud offerings and move services to the cloud.

This report is an important first step in outlining the necessary policy steps needed to keep the U.S. at the forefront of cloud innovation.


Google Apps Script lets you automate and extend Google Apps. Using Apps Script, businesses can build efficient solutions to meet their requirements such as:
Join us on August 18th, 2011 for the Google Apps Script Hackathon. If your organization uses Google Apps and you want to explore how you can use Google Apps Script to create custom functions or automate repetitive tasks, then this hackathon is a perfect opportunity to learn. Google engineers will be available to answer your questions and help you learn Apps Script throughout the day’s agenda. We’ll provide food, refreshments, and experts to help you learn to use Apps Script and write your own scripts. Just bring your laptop, ideas, and enthusiasm to complete the mix. We hope to see you there!

What: Apps Script Hackathon
Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Time: 2pm to 7pm EST
Where: 76 9th Avenue, New York, NY
Register: Space is limited, register here.

For those who cannot attend in person, we invite you to try out a number of self-paced tutorials on the Apps Script documentation site.


Today we light a single candle to mark one year since we introduced Google Apps for Government. And appropriately enough for a first birthday, it’s been a year full of firsts.

Last year, Google Apps became the first cloud-based email and collaboration platform to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) authorization from the U.S. government.

Last month, Wyoming became the first entire state in the country to go Google. They’ve been joined by state agencies in South Carolina, Virginia, and Kansas; cities such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Des Moines, Iowa to Mesquite, Nevada; and counties like Multnomah County in Oregon, Rockingham County in North Carolina, and Washington County in New York. At last count, state and local governments in 42 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia are using Google Apps.

Earlier today, we announced that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) became the first federal agency to complete migration to a cloud-based email service. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) became the largest federal agency to date to select Google Apps as its email and collaboration platform for 25,000 employees.

GSA and NOAA are demonstrating the benefits of the federal government’s “cloud first” policy, which challenges agencies to move three services to the cloud by mid-2012, in recognition that cloud computing can provide agencies with agile, secure, reliable and cost-effective options.

We couldn’t be more pleased about all that’s happened in our first year and look forward to what year two brings.


Last month, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) completed the transition of its employees to Google’s cloud-based email and collaboration applications. In a display of both speed and teamwork, it took just over six months since the decision was made to “Go Google” for GSA to migrate over 17,000 employees and contractors to Google Apps for Government.

GSA oversees the business of the U.S. federal government, managing $500B in federal assets, 9,600 federal buildings, and more than 200,000 government vehicles. Among the many services it provides to other agencies, GSA provides innovative technology solutions to enhance government efficiency and increase citizen engagement. By moving to the cloud, GSA hopes to serve as a model for other federal agencies.

The successful move to the cloud resulted from the involvement of hundreds of GSA employees who volunteered as early adopters and training buddies to support colleagues in making the switch. These efforts were supported by technical implementation experts from prime contractor Unisys and partner Tempus Nova.

This teamwork is indicative of the collaboration these new tools make possible. The teams used a Google Site to educate employees about Google Apps, Google-hosted videos to share recorded trainings, and Google Docs to share timely information among the early adopters. GSA also introduced the Google Chrome for Business web browser to give employees a faster, simpler & more secure experience with Google Apps.

Good customer service is at the heart of everything GSA does. These new tools are empowering employees to find innovative ways to improve service. Employees can collaborate both internally and externally with customers and industry partners to solve problems faster.

On top of this, these new applications are simplifying the IT experience for GSA employees, especially when employees are working remotely. As GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has said, “work is what you do, not where you are.” The added flexibility to access information and connect with colleagues while away from the office – and on a range of different devices – is helping GSA teams be more productive in serving customers.

GSA expects the introduction of Google Apps to help the agency transform its business and provide better results for its customers by promoting clearer communication and better team collaboration. What’s more, GSA projects that moving to Google Apps will lower email costs by 50%, a savings of $15 million over five years.

For GSA, this project has been far more than a new email and calendar system – it’s about enabling a whole new way for GSA employees to work.


How can Chromebooks for Business help your organization? One customer has provided Chromebooks to its distributed sales teams which makes full use of Chromebooks’ long battery life and 3G access. Another is using Chromebooks for support team members who telecommute. They appreciate that Chromebooks’ are easy to use and don’t require trips to headquarters to get the latest updates installed.

Register now for a live webinar this Thursday, July 28 at 12pm EDT, 9am PDT to learn more about Chromebooks for Business. Our team will discuss the total cost of ownership for Chromebooks when compared to other computers, explain the latest security enhancements and share deployment scenarios. We'll also demonstrate how administrators can customize user and device settings, such as applications on the home screen, using the Chromebook management console.


A week ago the Google State and Local Government team and our partner SADA Systems were out in force at the National Association of Counties Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. The conference provided a platform for over 2,000 county leaders and industry experts from across the nation to discuss innovative programs and technologies impacting county governments.

Our team was honored to moderate a session entitled “Counties Saving Money in the Cloud,” which featured three counties of different sizes using Google Apps for Government: Multnomah County, Oregon; Larimer County, Colorado; and Amador County, California. Leaders from these counties discussed their first-hand experience going Google, offering unique insight into the challenges they faced and the success they’ve seen. We developed a case study to recap the key points from the panel: Google Apps improves employee productivity while dramatically lowering IT costs.

In the evening, we had the chance to meet many more conference attendees at our tent in South Park (seriously, that was the park’s name). We’d like to extend a huge “thank you” to everyone who stopped by to say hello, play interactive games, make funny faces in our photo kiosk and pose for caricature portraits. It’s because of you that NACo 2011 was informative and fun!

To hear more from Multnomah, Larimer, Amador and other counties that have gone Google, visit our website.

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses are using Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Richard Hearn, CEO of Crown Partners, a digital sales and marketing technology firm in Ohio. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Crown Partners, we help businesses implement the newest ebusiness solutions to grow their revenue and help them get ahead of the competition. We support Fortune 500 and mid-market companies all over the country and in some cases globally, so access to our email, calendars and documents while out of the office or with clients is critical.

We had been using Microsoft® Exchange 2003 and Sharepoint 2007, but we ran out of Client Access Licenses. Microsoft would not let us buy more licenses on our current infrastructure and only allowed us to upgrade to 2010. So, we made the investment in new servers and software and took the upgrade plunge (which had its own challenges). Immediately after upgrading, we began to run into problems – meetings disappeared from calendars, data didn’t sync with smartphones, and we had a couple bad outages where employees couldn’t access email for over 24 hours. On a few occasions, we missed client meetings due to calendar issues and decided we needed to start considering alternatives.

From a cost perspective, we had already paid for the servers and licenses with Microsoft, but we decided to cut our losses. We had spent nearly $50,000 on something that just didn’t work.

We called Google, and two weeks later, we had 100 employees up and running on Google Apps. Moving our entire infrastructure was not a big deal. We started with the 30-day free trial, tested it out, and after only a few days simply deployed to the rest of our employees on our own. A one-person IT team was able to migrate the business over in less than a week. If I knew how easy it would be, I would have done it a long time ago.

With Google Apps’ record for reliability, I don’t have to worry about servers going down. I know that our data is backed up in the cloud. We have tons of people on the road every week, we have had laptops stolen or lost at airports, and it’s an added benefit knowing that there isn’t data on the actual laptops.

With all the travel our employees do, we need access to information wherever we are – real time. Our employees are starting to trust their emails and their calendars again, even on their mobile devices. Gmail is lightening fast and employees love it. The added benefit of Google Docs and other benefits from Google Apps put it over the top. The only thing I regret about moving to Google Apps is not doing it sooner.

Posted by Richard Hearn, CEO, Crown Partners


Google’s users have always found creative and inspiring ways to get the most out of our products. The Google Earth Pro team is reminded of this daily as we speak with companies across industries around the world that use Google Earth Pro for a wide range of purposes, from planning transportation routes to mapping forest fire risk areas.

One such use case is that of Coherent Navigation, a nine-person startup that develops GPS receivers for the US Military.

"Our software is very complex and has capabilities far beyond any other solutions in the market today," said Bryan Galusha, Senior Development Engineer at Coherent Navigation. "But at the end of the day, it provides a single position, much like a glorified ‘You are Here’ sign in a mall.” In order to convey the value of such complicated software as quickly and concisely as possible, Coherent turned to Google Earth Pro’s visualization capabilities. “Google Earth enabled us to quickly create a visualization of our receivers’ performance that effectively communicated the performance and capabilities of the receivers to both technical and non-technical customers,” Bryan said. An example of such a visualization can be found below, with the green distorted sphere representing Coherent’s calculated position of the white van.

Beyond the ability to create still images like the one above, Coherent also utilized the Movie Maker tool to “create videos of our receivers’ performance to be shown after major technical demonstrations” to potential customers. Lastly, Google Earth Pro helped them demonstrate visually the satellite infrastructure their software uses to pinpoint location, shown in the screenshot below:

Ultimately, Bryan said, “Google Earth Pro allowed us to quickly and inexpensively create 3D visualizations with accurate satellite imagery that ‘wowed’ our customers.” We’re glad Coherent Navigation was able to use Google Earth Pro so successfully, and we hope their story inspires other creative uses of Google Earth Pro.

If you are interested in learning more about Google Earth Pro, you are welcome to sign up for a free 7-day trial to test drive the product.


Aperam is one of the world’s leading stainless, electrical and specialty steel producers, based in Luxembourg but with operations in more than 30 countries.

Aperam recently decided to choose Google Apps for web-based email, shared calendars, integrated chat, automatic email translation, and greater use of video communications. The company will deploy Gmail as its global email solution for its 9,700 employees in October and will gradually switch its office software to Google’s cloud-based collaborative services during the following months. Aperam chose Google Apps to bring powerful real-time capabilities to the organization and enhance team productivity.

Moving to Google Apps will also help Aperam save on IT costs. Julien Onillon, Chief Financial Officer of Aperam, explains, “As part of our Leadership Journey, this move will allow us to make significant savings in our IT budgets.” Indeed, Aperam’s Leadership Journey aims to achieve a management gain of $250 million USD in 2011 and 2012, based on measures aimed at improving the company’s cost structure, and investments aimed at boosting its productivity and profitability in all markets.

“We see this switch to an advanced, collaborative online solution as a testimony to the company’s values of leadership, ingenuity and agility. We are looking forward to implementing it and reaping not just cost saving, but also strong organizational benefits,” adds Onillon.

The company’s migration to Google Apps is also in line with a corporate-wide commitment to find more sustainable and efficient ways of doing business.

Update: Aperam will move to Google Apps with the help of implementation partner, Revevol.


In 1992, while I was an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut, some fellow students and I started an ambitious project to connect residence halls to the campus network and the Internet. After all, the web was just being created in ’92! At the time, our Lab Sciences House (Wright Hall, now gone... sniff... sniff) had a single mainframe terminal in what amounted to a large closet. The mainframe terminal was old, clunky, and not reliable or particularly useful. We wanted more.

The UConn administration bravely allowed my friends and I to design, deploy, and manage computer labs, networked dorm rooms, and most especially our own services. Personally I was really excited about our Gopher server*, but we also offered our classmates email, FTP, Usenet news, and a few shared applications like WordPerfect. In the 19 years since, campus technology has evolved – and so has UConn.

Today I’m especially proud to announce that my alma mater – UConn – is going Google. Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer David Gilbertson says that the switch to Google Apps for Education stemmed from the recognition that students’ expectations about technology have changed dramatically in the past few years. This move to Apps will also bring significant benefits and cost savings to the University as a whole.

We Huskies were ahead of the curve in ’92, and we’re still at the cutting edge of campus technology today with our switch to Google Apps for Education. I know the UConn community will find amazing and innovative ways to exploit the tools Google is providing. And to all those students out there: even though you can’t knock on my door at 3am so I can fix the server anymore, rest assured the teams here at Google work 24 x 7 x 365 to make sure we’ll never be the excuse for your paper being late.

* Gopher was an early system for distributing, searching and retrieving information over the Internet. I thought it was really great that I could get National Weather Service forecasts for anywhere, whenever I wanted (you can still do this** via Gopher today!). Now though, I just ask my phone. Yep, the Internet has come a long way.

** Okay, that link is cheating – it’s using HTTP to get you to the gopher server – but chances are good your browser doesn’t even support the real Gopher.


Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Ivan Chou, Web Applications Engineer for the American Red Cross. When the American Red Cross was struggling with sub-optimal search functionality, it turned to the Google Search Appliance (GSA) to improve information “findability,” both for internal and external users.

Since its founding in 1881 by visionary relief coordinator Clara Barton, the American Red Cross has been the nation's premier non-profit emergency response organization. Today, in addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers compassionate services, from help for the needy to educational programs.

As one of the world’s largest non-profits, we rely on our public-facing websites and our intranet to keep millions of people and tens of thousands of employees and volunteers informed about our activities. On any “normal” day, we get up to 200,000 hits on our main website – but that number swells to millions during any disaster. The main external website,, receives significant traffic from people seeking everything from CPR class schedules and Blood Drive locations to information about disasters, such as the 2011 U.S. tornadoes.

With such a heavy reliance on the web for delivering information, the American Red Cross needed a faster search system that would deliver better results. We had been using a solution that came bundled with our content management system (CMS), which we implemented in 2009. That search system used a meaning-based context model, which means results were driven by questions, phrases or sentences rather than keywords – but this approach often failed to deliver relevant results. People had to know in advance, for example, if they needed to search about community services, educational programs, international relief, and so on – it was a lengthy, and not very successful process.

Slow performance and lack of relevant results prompted us to investigate search alternatives – an initiative that coincided with a redesign for and creation of, a new site supporting a multi-agency push to help halt the spread of measles worldwide.

Working with one of Google’s solution partners, Fig Leaf Software, we began evaluating our options and calculating the costs and benefits of deploying a new search solution. We were at a tipping point – we would have to pay more in licenses for our CMS to support our sites, but we saw in evaluating different options with Fig Leaf that we could save IT costs and achieve better results by setting up two Google Search Appliance (GSA) systems rather than staying with siloed CMS-based search systems. After substantial evaluations, our outsourced data center deployed two GSAs: one for production and the other as a backup – we wanted a redundant solution so that people could reliably find information in the event of emergencies.

The Google Search Appliance systems were implemented over a single weekend, and they now power search across our employee intranet as well as on the public and sites.

Right away, the search results from the GSA were excellent. We did almost no tweaking on our end, and our internal and external users comment on how pleased they are that the right search results come straight to the top, whether the query is about CPR class schedules or disaster relief. Visitors to the intranet as well as to the two public websites now have ready access to information through a powerful, intuitive and familiar search experience.

When we moved to the Google Search Appliance, search just started working, and working very well. We predicted that we could save IT costs and achieve better results by setting up the Google Search Appliance, and that’s exactly how it turned out.


We’re always listening to your ideas about features you’d like to see in Google Apps, and many of you have asked for a better way to track your email communications in Gmail. Consider your message to us delivered: today we’re introducing read receipts as an optional feature for Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Government accounts.

Read receipts allow senders to monitor the status of the messages they send and allow recipients to acknowledge receipt of mail. Let’s say John works in sourcing for his company and wants to make sure that his suppliers receive his purchase orders. As he sends each one out, John can request a receipt and later check that the recipients have received the orders. Conversely, if someone sends John a message with a request for receipt, Gmail can send a receipt to the sender when John opens the message. Read receipts work both internally within your organization and externally, so they can help improve communications with customers and partners.

Google Apps admins can now log in to the control panel to enable read receipts for their domain. Administrators can choose whether users need to manually approve receipts or whether receipts can be sent automatically. Automatic receipts can only be sent to users within the same domain and to a list of email addresses defined by the administrator.

To activate read receipts, log in to the administrative control panel of your Google Apps for Business or Government account and look for “Email read receipts” on the Settings page for email. For more information, please see our Help Center. As always, we welcome your feedback in the comments below.

Update: Read receipts is now also available as an optional feature with Google Apps for Education.


Last week the Google Enterprise team participated in the 5th Annual Security Confab in Monterey, CA, from July 12-14. The Confab event brought together information security leaders from public and private sector organizations to discuss thought-provoking topics around information and cyber security issues.

At the conference, John Collins, Google’s Sr. Global Trust Product Manager, presented a talk entitled “Private Insecurities and Public Transparency.” John compared the attributes of public clouds and so-called private clouds in an attempt to dispel the myth that private clouds offer cost and productivity benefits without security concerns. In fact, the opposite is true: private clouds do not deliver the same benefits as public clouds, but they still require significant investment to secure and protect.

For more information about how we protect the data our customers store in Google Apps, visit our Google Apps Trust page. Many of the protections are highlighted in our security white paper and data center video tour. We take extreme measures to protect our users’ data and we are constantly innovating to develop new features and capabilities in these areas.


Google Apps has come a long way since its introduction a few years ago, with continuous improvements every week rather than disruptive shifts every few years. It’s like watching your kids grow up; you don’t notice the changes from day to day, but look back at a photo from last year and the differences can be striking.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a look back to revisit key innovations from the last few years in four categories that define Google Apps: team collaboration, mobile productivity, ease of use, and trustworthiness. Today we’re starting with Gmail and Google Calendar, and many of the capabilities below have become customer favorites. If you’d like to hear more about these developments, we invite you to join our webinar on Wednesday (details below).

Designed for Teams
Google Apps makes working in teams easier. Gmail and Google Calendar support teamwork in ways that traditional applications just can’t offer. Give these features a try if they’re new to you, or take a fresh look if it’s been a while:
  • Have an instant message conversation right from your inbox, and once you’re chatting, switch to a voice, video or group chat. It all works in the browser, not in another application.
  • When a contact isn’t online to chat, call their phone right from Gmail with your computer’s speakers and microphone.
  • Gmail helps you connect with the right people when you send traditional email messages, too, with full-fledged capabilities first tested as Labs features. By analyzing signals in your email, Gmail recommends recipients you might have forgotten, and displays a warning when you might have added the wrong person.
  • Once you’ve started an email conversation, Gmail’s people widget shows how you’ve interacted with recipients recently over email, in meetings and through shared documents.
  • Google Apps supports over 40 languages, and automatic translation can really help break down language barriers. Gmail’s message translation feature instantly converts foreign text to your native language. Translation bots provide real-time translation in chat, so you can even IM with people in other languages.
  • Finding a good meeting time with a group of busy people can be a chore, so we introduced the smart rescheduler in Google Calendar Labs. This tool automatically explores everyone’s schedule to find the best times when attendees can all get together.
  • Appointment slots also simplifies meeting scheduling by letting you establish open meeting times that other people in your organization can sign themselves up for, like “office hours”.
  • Once you’ve set up a meeting, we know there’s often meeting-related content to be shared with attendees. The event attachments Lab in Google Calendar lets you add Google Docs files to meetings, so everyone has the right information at their fingertips.
  • And sometimes you just need help managing email, contacts and calendar, and that’s where account delegation comes into play. Gmail and Google Calendar allow you to designate others who can manage your email, appointments and contacts on your behalf.

Productive Anywhere
Communication tools wouldn’t be much good if you were required to work from your desk, which is why we support full access to email, contacts and calendar on any modern browser and all major mobile device platforms.

Simple & Affordable
We built Gmail and Google Calendar to stay out of your way and help you handle tasks quickly. At $50 per user per year or $5 per month with no commitment, Google Apps packs a powerful punch in an intuitive package that anyone can use.
  • With 25GB of email storage for every employee, the ability to handle attachments up to 25MB apiece and room for 25,000 contacts, Gmail is designed so you can stop worrying about account capacity and focus on more productive things.
  • With all that space for email, you need a fast and reliable way to find old messages, and the power of Google search is essential. Gmail’s search options quickly tame even the largest message archives.
  • Priority Inbox learns patterns in how you use email, and automatically filters incoming email to put the most important messages – email from your boss perhaps – right at the top. We found this feature alone saves people 6% of the time they spend on email.
  • Keeping spam out of your inbox is another big productivity booster, and Gmail's spam filters are continuously improved to weed out unsafe and unwanted messages.
  • Like the great cilantro debate, some people like their email as threaded “conversations”, while others prefer a traditional inbox displaying individual messages. You can have it either way in Gmail now, threaded or unthreaded.
  • Instead of downloading attachments and opening them with another application, Gmail lets you view over a dozen different attachment types right in your browser. It’s faster, safer and more affordable than opening attachments with other software.
  • Beyond attachments, Gmail lets you preview other types of content without leaving your inbox, like YouTube videos, Google Docs, Google Maps locations and Picasa slideshows. You can even build custom content gadgets for other types of data residing in your existing business systems.
  • Gmail also helps you avoid email snafus, like forgetting to add an attachment. You’ll see an attachment warning if it looks like you meant to send a file but didn’t add one.
  • When you write a message and immediately have sender’s regret, just use the undo send Lab to recall the message. This lets you edit and resend, or just discard the message.
  • If working with a mouse just isn’t fast enough, try Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts. You can power through your inbox faster than ever by learning a few simple keystroke combinations.
  • Google Calendar helps frequent flyers manage their appointments with time zone auto-detect. This feature recognizes where in the world you are, and automatically adjusts your schedule to reflect local time.
  • Last but not least, an oldie but a goodie: quick add in Google Calendar. Instead of filling out a form to create a new event, just summarize your event in natural language (like “Revew budget with Clark next Tuesday at 2pm”), then click “Add”.

Pure & Proven Cloud
Not only do Gmail and Google Calendar help boost productivity, they’re more reliable than traditional systems. Many customers also feel that their data is safer than ever with Google Apps.
  • Over the course of 2010, Gmail was available 99.984% of the time, and so far in 2011 we're at 99.99%. That’s less than seven minutes of downtime per month, a 40-fold improvement over traditional systems.
  • Our publicly available status dashboard offers transparency about the health of our systems, and 24x7 phone and online support is there when you need it.
  • Google goes to extensive lengths to protect the customer information in our data centers, including extensive personnel background checks, security-focused processes, advanced technology, and around-the-clock physical protection.
  • Gmail and Google Calendar have completed a SAS 70 Type II audit, and have achieved the U.S. Federal goverment’s FISMA certification.
  • With default https connections, your messages are always encrypted as they travel from your web browser to our servers. This helps protect your data by making it unreadable to others sharing your network.
  • Google Apps accounts can be further secured with 2-step verification, which requires users to sign in with something they know (their password) and something they have (their mobile phone). With verification codes available via SMS, even basic mobile phones can serve as powerful authentication devices.

As you can see, we’ve been busy making Gmail and Google Calendar better and better, so if you haven’t explored some of these recent improvements, maybe it’s time to take another look. We’ll be hosting a free webinar on Wednesday where we’ll cover many of these updates in a bit more detail, so please join us if you’d like to hear more.

A look back as we move ahead: Gmail and Google Calendar
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
9:00 a.m. PDT / 12:00 p.m. EDT
Register here

Update: webinar schedule updated to reflect correct start time from the registration page.


Curious how the new Chromebook can help your school bring the power of the web to students and teachers? Join the Chromebooks for Education team tomorrow, Tuesday, July 19th or Wednesday, August 3rd at 11:00AM PT/2PM ET for an introduction to Chromebooks for Education live webinar.

Announced in May at Google I/O, Chromebooks for Education are now available directly from Google. Chromebooks are computers built and optimized for the web and give students, teachers, and administrators a simple solution for fast, intuitive, and easy-to-manage computing. The Education offering from Google also includes a web-based management console and three years of service and support from Google, so schools can get computers into the hands of their students and teachers at a much lower total cost of ownership than a traditional PC.

Teachers and students are already finding Chromebooks easy to use, and are using them as part of lessons ranging from feudal Japan to algebra. In Oregon, Zach Fleming has been using Chromebooks to teach 6th grade social studies at Crook County Middle School. "From the day the students got the Chromebooks, they were able get right to the lesson without much help. It’s pretty simple" he says, "individual learning at their own pace."

Matthew Peskay, the Director of Technology at KIPP LA Schools where Chromebooks have been a part of the classes for four months, is impressed that "there is no software to install and there is no application imaging that needs to be done,” meaning he can put “more computers out in the classroom, and easily sustain and maintain them over time.”

During the webinar, we will discuss Chromebook management capabilities, specific solutions for schools, and Google’s subscription pricing. You will also be able to hear from a teacher who has been using Chromebooks in their classroom and ask questions of Google’s Education Evangelist, Jaime Casap, who has been working with teachers and educators around Google Apps for five years.

Join us to learn how you can get Chromebooks in time for the start of the next school year. We hope to see you there!

What: Introduction to Chromebooks for Education
  • James Sanders, 7th grade history teacher, KIPP LA Schools
  • Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist, Google
  • Jeff Keltner, Chromebooks for Education, Google

  • Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 11:00AM PT/2:00PM ET - Register
  • Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 11:00AM PT /2:00PM ET - Register


The City of Pittsburgh has historically been known as the “Steel City.” While there aren’t any more steel mills, Pittsburgh has become home to over 1,600 technology companies and world-class research institutions like Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. These days, Pittsburgh’s economy is largely based on financial services, healthcare, education, robotics and technology.

Today, Pittsburgh reinforced its status as a high-tech hub by announcing that it will move all 3,000 city employees to Google Apps for Government. Google Apps will give city employees 500 times more email storage than they currently have. It will improve collaboration and productivity for employees while reducing costs and freeing up IT resources for the city.

“Adopting Google Apps aligns with our goals to utilize the best, most innovative technology in order to modernize our government, cut costs, and improve operational efficiencies,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. “Many of our employees are familiar with Gmail and will be ecstatic to know that this system provides the same intuitive and user-friendly functionality.”

Over several months, City Chief Information Officer Dr. Howard Stern led a team of experts in overseeing a competitive bid process and analyzing available cloud computing IT solutions. "Of the seven bids, Google offered the most competitive price when factoring in the costs of integration, implementation, training, and data archival," according to Dr. Stern. The City Council agreed: last month, they voted unanimously to support the switch to Google Apps.

Pittsburgh will migrate its employees to Google Apps later this year with the support of Google implementation partner Daston Corporation. Once complete, the switch to Google Apps will provide city employees with cutting-edge technology; all they need to do is to refresh their browser for the latest updates. Google Apps will also free the City Information Systems (CIS) department from the responsibility of maintaining and patching the legacy system established in 2003. CIS can then focus their resources on supporting other core government initiatives and better serving all City departments. CIS will also strengthen their data security since Google Apps for Government was the first cloud suite to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) authorization from the US government. "We feel strongly that Google will ensure the safety and security of our data," Dr. Stern said.

Pittsburgh joins a growing number of other governments that have recently gone Google, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State of Wyoming, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control, and the City of Des Moines.


From big cities to small towns to suburbs, from forests to tundra to islands, Americans live in diverse habitats. No matter where we live, we all have county governments. Today, members of Google's government team are flying from Santa Clara County (home of our Mountain View headquarters) to Multnomah County in Oregon to talk to county leaders from across the country at the National Association of Counties Annual Conference, NACo 2011, from Saturday to Monday, July 16-18.

This year’s NACo conference is hosted by Multnomah County, one of our Google Apps for Government customers. Due to tight budgets, counties across the nation, like Multnomah, have been forced to look for innovative ways to save money while maintaining critical services.

Our team will moderate a panel session featuring three distinguished county government leaders who will discuss their experiences moving their email and workplace collaboration to the cloud. Please join us if you’ll be at the conference.

Counties Saving Money in the Cloud
Time: July 17, 1:30 - 2:45 PT
Location: Room 113 (level 1), Oregon Convention Center

  • Sherry Swackhamer, Chief Information Officer, Multnomah County, Oregon
  • Lew Gaiter, Commissioner, Larimer County, Colorado
  • Jeff White, IT Director, Amador County, California
  • Scott McIntyre, Director of State and Local Government, Google
Be sure to stop by our booth 601 to learn more about our technology offerings for governments. Even if you can’t attend the conference, you can visit our website for more information about Google Apps for Government.

We hope to see you there!


Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Jay McLean, CIO for Nexteer Automotive, a global leader in advanced automotive steering and driveline systems with a workforce of 9,800 people worldwide. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Nexteer, we’re focused on our craft of engineering steering and driveline systems for automobiles. Electric Power Steering, is an energy-efficient product powered by specialized software that is tuned to the manufacturers specific vehicle characteristics. It’s a highly technical product requiring collaboration across teams of skilled engineers. Having the most innovative technology, like Google Apps, is one of the ways we’ve found to attract skilled, energetic engineers.

In addition to providing employees with features like better email search capabilities, mobile access to email and documents, and easy collaboration, we wanted to eliminate the cost of buying, setting up and maintaining servers. We looked at hosted Microsoft® Exchange and LotusLive, as well as Google Apps, but Google was clearly the best option.

We factored in monthly cost per user for email and collaboration, as well as easy, any-device mobility. Because we have offices and manufacturing plants all over the world, we have a lot of employees who need access to information wherever they may be working from, and it took extensive work and considerable cost to support VPN access. We wanted an easier and more affordable way to support our global teams.

With the help of Google Apps partner, Salvair, we switched 4,200 users to Google Apps over a four month period in 2009 and haven’t looked back. As a technology-focused company, Google Apps allows us to be ahead of the curve for the automotive industry, with access to the newest features as they become available. In the year and a half we’ve been on Google Apps, we’ve seen new features like priority inbox, the option to have threaded or un-threaded email, and great interoperability among multiple devices and platforms. Access to that pace of innovation is something only Google Apps could offer.

Since moving to Google Apps, we’ve cut cost of email and collaboration by 64% and we’ve easily reduced VPN costs by about 50% – all because people no longer need to go through VPN to get their email. We were also able to eliminate servers and maintenance costs required to support our internally hosted solutions.

With Google Apps we’re able to get things done faster. Instead of scheduling meetings or emailing back and forth, we’re able to use Google Talk to work across time zones and quickly get answers from co-workers. The search functionality in Gmail helps us find what we’re looking for faster and the increased inbox size lets us store that information, knowing we’ll be able to find it when we need it.

Our end-users are happy and the calls to the help desk related to email have dropped off substantially. Our IT workload is far less, and we are avoiding the cost of buying and maintaining servers, as well as the costs of VPN access. With Google Apps, we have reduced costs, increased productivity, and benefited from a constant stream of innovation.


Postini email services help provide Google Apps users access to robust, cloud-based email security, filtering and archiving services. Today, we’re excited to announce our first step in creating a unified Google Apps experience by moving some Postini features directly into the Google Apps administrative interface.

The new Objectionable Content and Content Compliance email security settings, available directly in the Google Apps control panel, will allow admins to filter messages based on word lists or predefined sets of words, phrases, text patterns, or numerical patterns. And because these are built into the Google Apps infrastructure, admins will be able to use their existing user and organization structures set up for their domain to customize policies for different groups.

Bill MacKenzie, ICT Consultant for Ontario's Upper Grand District School Board, finds the new settings useful and easy to manage: "The content compliance feature has been a great addition to our cloud solution. It was a snap to set up, surprising our tech folks at how little work and time it took to implement. The compliance tool lets students, parents and administrators know that the email at our district is being supervised."

Over the coming weeks, we will be making these features available to business, education and government customers. We're especially excited to introduce these settings to K-12 schools. With these email filters and the walled garden functionality we announced earlier this year, K-12 schools will be able to address their email security needs and easily manage policies for students and teachers -- all within Google Apps.

Because all K-12 schools will automatically have these advanced email security features, we will no longer offer Google Message Security free of charge to new K-12 Google Apps customers. While we will continue to provide the service to K-12 schools currently using advanced features of Google Message Security, we plan to add even more email security features to the Google Apps control panel during the next year. Once comparable features are available in Google Apps, we will require K-12 Google Apps customers using Postini to consolidate their email security features into the Google Apps control panel. Google Apps for Business and Google Apps for Government customers are welcome to try these new features but will not be required to transition until a later date next year.

We invite everyone to start trying these new features for your domain. You can create similar filters to those you have in Postini in the improved Google Apps control panel interface. For more information about the transition to the new email security settings in Google Apps, please visit the Help Center documentation for Objectionable Content and Content Compliance and read the FAQs.

We're excited to begin the process of building Postini features into Google Apps and simplifying email security policies for Google Apps domains. Stay tuned for new features in the future!


Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Andrew Muroff, CIO of Premier Salons. Premier Salons has over 300 high-end spas and salons and almost 500 beauty supply retail stores across North America. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Running a chain of hundreds of retail stores and salons requires efficient coordination. We need to be able to quickly gauge inventory and share best practices while also making sure we can easily add new users and keep our data safe in an industry with a lot of employee turn over.

Before switching to Google Apps, we had multiple email systems and file shares across salons, retail stores and corporate – primarily Microsoft® Exchange 2003 and SharePoint. Substantial resources were needed to maintain these systems, yet they still weren’t supporting the level of collaboration we needed. We were dealing with license management, backups and space constraints. Our servers constantly went down. Just running SharePoint alone required a full-time administrator, yet SharePoint was never really well adopted because the check in/check out process was confusing to our employees. We realized that Microsoft’s technologies for collaboration and communication were not serving our needs.

The turning point came when we were installing a new point of sale (POS) system. The process of evaluating newer, more modern technologies opened our eyes to other possibilities. We have 6,500 employees and we realized that rolling out new versions of Microsoft Office to all of them was cost-prohibitive. After years of experience trying to support Microsoft applications at Premier Salons and other companies, we just didn’t see Microsoft as the best option for us.

That’s when we began considering Google Apps. We saw that Google would eliminate our worries about licensing, security, back-ups, space constraints and server maintenance, and adding new users would be easy. We would save hundreds of thousands of dollars in license fees and maintenance costs alone. And we could collaborate in real-time, with everyone on the same page – literally.

We rolled out Google Apps to 1,050 employees and have increased our efficiency exponentially. In order to keep the most popular products in stock to maximize sales and customer satisfaction, we need quick merchandising updates from our locations to determine what the big-sellers are, particularly over holiday weekends like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. We had been using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to track and adjust our inventory to meet demand and we didn’t have the visibility required to quickly transfer excess, in-demand inventory from one store to another. We were also missing sales opportunities because we couldn’t provide instant feedback to our purchasing team. Now we’re able to send forms to our retail locations, see the data in real time, and get a quick update on what’s selling and what’s not across the entire company. We’ll keep our existing Microsoft Office licenses, but we won’t upgrade them. Google Docs is intuitive for our users and allows us to collaborate in ways just not possible with Microsoft Office.

Similar efficiencies are being gained in IT, where instead of managing VPNs, Google Apps lets us make information accessible to anyone – all managed through a secure log-in. With Google Apps, we’re keeping our technical support team in-house to a minimum. We have fewer people in IT dealing with email since there are no longer storage issues, server maintenance and space constraints. We’re also starting to use Google Sites so that various divisions can get corporate news and share best practices, without support from IT.

We’re very happy that we no longer have to worry about dedicating IT resources to supporting Exchange, SharePoint, or Office. The bottom line is that our employees are more productive and we expect to save hundreds of thousands of dollars with Google Apps.