Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Joshua Moxon, marketing director for Prima Supply, a family-owned restaurant supply company based in Louisville, Kentucky. See what other organizations that use Google Search Appliance have to say.

Customers shopping online at Prima Supply – usually small business owners looking for great deals on restaurant and food service equipment – know what they want, and they’re price-conscious. To help them make choices, our goal is to provide accurate product information, including specifications and availability, and deliver it as quickly as possible. Google Search Appliance (GSA) has met our need for speed, and for better control over adding content to search.

In the past, our search product, Amazon Cloud Search, stymied our goals for fast results and helpful content. Visitors to our site had to wait as long as 15 seconds for results, especially if they used refinements for pricing, since that information wasn’t cached. Our bounce rate was higher than normal, which meant that shoppers were leaving our site because they didn’t want to wait around for results.

It wasn’t just customers that were unhappy. We weren’t pleased with our lack of ability to add synonyms or include misspellings, which would have improved our search accuracy. We’d have to bring in IT help if we wanted to add content to search or if we wanted to fine-tune results – for example, promoting certain products or brands within search results. Using outside help took extra time, which meant we couldn’t be agile in responding to customers.

We didn’t have to look hard for a new search product – GSA was the only one we considered. We knew that nobody does search like Google, and we wanted the same fast, easy search for our site that we get when we go to Instead of bringing in a software developer when we needed to add synonyms or create landing pages for products or brands, GSA helps us do this work ourselves, with no delays or extra costs.

Three-compartment stainless steel sinks are a popular item on the Prima Supply website, and customers searching for a specific brand might not realize that there are other options from different manufacturers. Using Searchandiser, a third party tool powered by the GSA, we can build out webpages with similar products, at all price points, that show up whenever a customer does a relevant search.

Search times have been reduced and slowdowns have become a thing of the past. In our business, search that’s fast and on-target has a direct impact on customer loyalty. That means GSA will help keep our customers finding and buying products they need, and associating Prima Supply with easy searching and fast service.

Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Carolyn Cheng, SVP of Strategic Services for Royal LePage, a Google Enterprise customer.

How did you first get involved in technology?
I’d say that technology found me. I began my professional life as a management consultant in strategy and operations at Deloitte Consulting, then joined the growth strategy group at Brookfield Real Estate Services to help drive new business opportunities. After a strong growth period for the company, each person from the team took on a strategic role in one of the operating companies - and I joined Royal LePage. I was brought on to develop new products and services for the network of agents (now more than 15,000), and since they’re distributed so widely across North America, many of those products and services had to be delivered over the web. And thus began my journey into the world of technology.

Have any mentors or communities been especially instrumental to your interest and success in tech?
The Royal LePage culture has played a huge role in driving and developing my career in tech. When I started at the company, the CIO and half of our senior executives were women, so having those positive examples was inspiring. Our culture is also very entrepreneurial, driven in particular by our President, who ensures that employees who show enthusiasm, curiosity and capability are given opportunities to pursue new ideas - even if they’re outside their defined job role. I wasn’t a technologist by trade, for example, but once I’d established my capabilities and strengths, I was given new opportunities that happened to intersect with technology. In general, I think the inquisitive, analytical problem solving skills that are the backbone of strategy are well aligned with developing and delivering services through technology.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
For one, it’s now much easier and faster to implement technology projects. A decade ago, we often built our own custom solutions in-house, which meant building the software, installing the hardware and learning by trial and error along the way. These were greater stress-induced days, to say the least. Today, third-party solutions in real estate are far more mature and require much more straightforward configuration. And when we choose to build custom, differentiated solutions, we partner with experienced vendors, use an agile process supported with documentation and, most often, ensure those solutions are cloud-based. On the whole, projects deliver in almost half the time, at a lower cost and with a far higher quality product.

What advice do you have for women interested or working in tech today?
Technology is such an integral part of the fabric of how work gets done that I think it’s critical for all women to learn about it one way or another. There’s no role that doesn’t touch technology somehow: sales people need CRMs, marketers have to be conversant in SEO, SEM and social media, finance relies on tech-based tools to deliver business intelligence. The choice revolves more around where you want to sit on the spectrum of technology - on one end, purely as an end user, or on the other, as a more technical creator or implementer. But the more you know about technology, the more opportunities you open up for yourself.

So, if I had one piece of advice, it’s to learn about technology from a young age, then decide what interests you most and go after it. Technology has a much broader definition and is more accessible than ever before. And from what I’ve experienced myself, women in technology are often very grounded, extraordinarily passionate and want to achieve great things, so you’ll be in good company.

Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Kelly Campbell, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Google.

How did you get into technology?
I entered the world of technology when I joined Google in 2005 after getting my MBA. I’d worked in Finance earlier in my career and did an internship as a brand manager at a large CPG company, but both had left me wanting more. In my second year of business school, a handful of companies from various industries came to campus to talk about potential job opportunities. I popped into my first tech session, with Amazon, and was blown away. There was so much energy and excitement around what they were doing and where the tech industry was going that just didn’t exist in the other sessions. Then Google visited, and I was hooked. I joined the company after graduation and haven’t looked back since. In this industry, you have to constantly challenge the status quo and think about the future first. I love the pace, energy, challenges and vast opportunity.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in technology since working in the space?
Since I joined Google, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the way people work and the way people learn.

When I started, most people used devices and apps in their home life that they loved, while they were stuck with slow, heavy enterprise software and devices at work. Working from home, on the road or from a remote office meant feeling disconnected and operating in isolation. Now, with the incredible growth in the mobile space and the development of smartphones and tablets, people can use whichever devices they want to work with and work from wherever they need to be. You don’t have to be in the same place to feel like you’re working side by side with someone. You’re seeing their face over a video conference or collaborating on a document at the same exact time, watching as the words they type appear right on the screen in front of you.

On the learning front, if you look at a classroom today and compare it with eight years ago, the landscape has changed exponentially. Students are relying more on technology to learn, and education content and devices are opening new opportunities for teaching all over the world.

What advice do you have for other women interested in technology?
I’m one of four girls in my family, and my father always taught me the importance of having thick skin. I definitely think this applies to anyone working in the technology space. Decisions are made quickly. Change happens often. It’s important to be open to all perspectives and to be ready to push hard for what you really believe in.

How did starting a family affect your ability to continue to move fast at work in the tech space?
It was incredibly hard to take that first step away from work, and then to come back five months later and acknowledge how much I’d missed. But becoming a mother has also helped me in ways that I didn’t anticipate. First, it helped me put things in perspective. It’s incredibly inspiring to look at my child and think about all of the possibilities that technology will enable for him. Second, I increased my productivity quite a bit when I had a child. It’s important to me to be fully present whether I’m with family or colleagues. To strike this balance, I need to draw clear lines between work time and family time.

Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Tonya Peer, VP of IT Shared Services for Office Depot, a Google Enterprise customer.

How did you first get involved in technology?
I noticed early on that I really liked computers and I loved problem solving. I got into computers, thought I’d take a few classes, and did really well — I was at the top of my class. I went into the computer science field because I thought it was even more challenging than some of the other careers I was considering. It’s definitely an ongoing challenge, but that’s what I love about it. I’m always learning.

What are some of biggest changes you’ve seen in tech?
When I first started in tech, I was working on a huge IBM mainframe. Over time, I saw the move from mainframe to client server, client server to web, web to mobile. Technology has evolved to be much more user friendly and much more user-empowering. It’s amazing to see the shift to cloud-based technologies and the impact it has had on the industry.

Another big shift has come from the Internet — the ability to search for anything you need and the ability to get an answer to any question that you have. The fact that you can do that just with your computer, your tablet or your phone didn’t exist when I first started in tech. It’s such a sweeping change.

What advice do you for for other women interested in technology?
Make sure you go after a career that gets you excited when you wake up in the morning. Always remember to do the best you can to satisfy your customers, because ultimately, that’s the purpose of technology — to make end users happy. And don’t forget to speak your mind. Step out. Say what you think. Have an opinion. Be present.


(Cross-posted on the Drive Blog.)

Google Slides and Drawings make it easy for you to tell a story and share your ideas. And a big part of storytelling is the images you use to bring a concept to life. Now it’s even easier to get those images just right, because Slides will let you crop, apply shape masks, and add borders to your images right within your presentation.

To crop an image, select it and click on the crop image icon in the toolbar.
Then drag the corners to your desired crop size and hit enter to make the crop.
Applying masks
To crop your image to a particular shape, apply a mask from the pull-down menu next to the crop icon.
There are tons of shapes, arrows and callout designs to choose from, like the diamond example below.
Adding borders
Add a border to your image by clicking on the line weight icon, and give it a little extra pop by changing the line color.
Look out for image editing in Slides and Drawings over the next couple of hours. Here’s to more beautiful presentations and drawings!


(Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform Blog)

Editor's note: Tune in to Google Cloud Platform Live for more information about our announcements. And join us during our 27-city Google Cloud Platform Roadshow which kicks off in Paris on April 7.

Today, at Google Cloud Platform Live we’re introducing the next set of improvements to Cloud Platform: lower and simpler pricing, cloud-based DevOps tooling, Managed Virtual Machines (VM) for App Engine, real-time Big Data analytics with Google BigQuery, and more.

Industry-leading, simplified pricing
The original promise of cloud computing was simple: virtualize hardware, pay only for what you use, with no upfront capital expenditures and lower prices than on-premise solutions. But pricing hasn’t followed Moore's Law: over the past five years, hardware costs improved by 20-30% annually but public cloud prices fell at just 8% per year.

We think cloud pricing should track Moore’s Law, so we’re simplifying and reducing prices for our various on-demand, pay-as-you-go services by 30-85%:

  • Compute Engine reduced by 32% across all sizes, regions, and classes.
  • App Engine pricing simplified, with significant reductions in database operations and front-end compute instances.
  • Cloud Storage is now priced at a consistent 2.6 cents per GB. That’s roughly 68% less for most customers.
  • Google BigQuery on-demand prices reduced by 85%.

Sustained-Use discounts
In addition to lower on-demand prices, you’ll save even more money with Sustained-Use Discounts for steady-state workloads. Discounts start automatically when you use a VM for over 25% of the month. When you use a VM for an entire month, you save an additional 30% over the new on-demand prices, for a total reduction of 53% over our original prices.
Sustained-Use Discounts automatically reward users who run VMs for over 25% of any calendar month 
With our new pricing and sustained use discounts, you get the best performance at the lowest price in the industry. No upfront payments, no lock-in, and no need to predict future use.

Making developers more productive in the cloud
We’re also introducing features that make development more productive:

  • Build, test, and release in the cloud, with minimal setup or changes to your workflow. Simply commit a change with git and we’ll run a clean build and all unit tests.
  • Aggregated logs across all your instances, with filtering and search tools.
  • Detailed stack traces for bugs, with one-click access to the exact version of the code that caused the issue. You can even make small code changes right in the browser.

We’re working on even more features to ensure that our platform is the most productive place for developers. Stay tuned.

Introducing Managed Virtual Machines
You shouldn't have to choose between the flexibility of VMs and the auto-management and scaling provided by App Engine. Managed VMs let you run any binary inside a VM and turn it into a part of your App Engine app with just a few lines of code. App Engine will automatically manage these VMs for you.

Expanded Compute Engine operating system support
We now support Windows Server 2008 R2 on Compute Engine in limited preview and Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are now available to everyone.

Real-Time Big Data
BigQuery lets you run interactive SQL queries against datasets of any size in seconds using a fully managed service, with no setup and no configuration. Starting today, with BigQuery Streaming, you can ingest 100,000 records per second per table with near-instant updates, so you can analyze massive data streams in real time. Yet, BigQuery is very affordable: on-demand queries now only cost $5 per TB and 5 GB/sec reserved query capacity starts at $20,000/month, 75% lower than other providers.

This is an exciting time to be a developer and build apps for a global audience. Today we’ve focused a lot on productivity, making it easier to build and test in the cloud, using the tools you’re already familiar with. Managed VMs give you the freedom to combine flexible VMs with the auto-management of App Engine. BigQuery allows big data analysis to just work, at any scale.

And on top of all of that, we’re making it more affordable than it’s ever been before, reintroducing Moore’s Law to the cloud: the cost of virtualized hardware should fall in line with the cost of the underlying real hardware. And you automatically get discounts for sustained use with no long-term contracts, no lock-in, and no upfront costs, so you get the best price and the best performance without needing a PhD in Finance.

We’ve made a lot of progress this first quarter and you’ll hear even more at Google I/O in June.

Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Bethany Kemp, VP of Technology & Information Systems for Design Within Reach, a Google Apps customer.

How and when did you first get involved in IT?
I first joined Design Within Reach in 2001, back when it was much smaller, starting in the call center. By 2002, I'd worked my way up into a shipping coordinator role. In 2004, they decided to move my part of the business from San Francisco to Kentucky - but I didn’t want to leave San Francisco. The head of IT, who I had worked closely with and who had seen how I ran operations in the shipping center, asked me to stay and join his team as Systems Coordinator. My first major task was to roll out a new ERP for the company. It was a custom system, so I had to write up all the documentation and run user training. It was a pretty big job for my first time in IT, but a great way to dive in headfirst.

Aside from a two year stint running operations, I’ve been in IT for almost ten years now. Managing operations gave me a good idea of the challenges the business faced - it was a good experience to work hand-in-hand with that team as the company grew. I liked operations, but I also realized along the way that I wanted to tackle our business needs by giving our developers opportunities to make cool stuff, so I moved back to IT. I've been there ever since.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in IT?
I believe two especially significant changes have affected the the world of technology, the way businesses work and the role of IT leaders.

First is the mobile revolution. My users want to work from their phones or tablets, not their desktops. Our sales teams rely on their applications working from their mobile devices, whether they're in the store or on location with clients. It’s a totally different way of working and a great opportunity for my team to help create a more personal customer experience - not to mention close sales faster.

The second significant change is the move to cloud computing. Before, I had to conduct a long evaluation process to understand the costs and the impact on our current environment before choosing a new IT solution. Then, we had to build the hardware environment to support those IT investments. Now, I can get an application or new system up and running in a couple months, and if we don't like it, we can stop using it without worrying about lost money or time. The cloud has enabled great innovation. There are so many options for businesses out there, and applications can be integrated and improved so quickly. This level of choice has given more power back to us and our users, and it challenges the provider to always create the best, newest and most exciting products and experiences, because the users has the option of just turning it off and using another option.

The move to cloud computing has also changed the role and make-up of my team. Before, when someone came to me with a request for help tackling a problem, I'd either say it wasn't possible or would take 2 years to implement. Now I can say yes, and figure out how to do it right away. And I don't need a lot of developers; I have business analysts and administrators who know the business. That's a great feeling for me and for my team. I feel like IT is now a business driving role, not just a support role.

What advice would you give other women interested in tech?
I learned early on not to be afraid of tackling something I’m not yet an expert in. I feel that women sometimes hesitate before volunteering to do something new that they’re not comfortable with. Technology is still predominantly male, but you shouldn’t be intimidated by being the only woman in the room. You’ll earn respect in whatever you do by being comfortable with who you are and confident in your knowledge.

The last thing I’ll say is that women need to stick with IT and look for opportunities to support other women in the industry. The more of us that stay in IT and the more we support each other, the more technology can change for the better.


Editor's note: From Ada Lovelace to the ladies of ENIAC, women have played an important part in driving technology forward. As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re highlighting a handful of women who are making strides, driving change and shaping the future of technology. Today, we hear from Jeanne DeWitt, Head of Americas SMB Sales for Google Apps.

How and when did you first get involved in technology?
I grew up watching my dad sell the first PCs for IBM and alpha testing computer games like Midnight Rescue! and Reader Rabbit, so when it came time to graduate from college, I knew I wanted to apply to Google. I ended up on the Gmail Support team just two months after the product launched. It was my job to answer users’ questions and help diagnose bugs, which ultimately led to me working closely with Product and Engineering to help shape the future direction of Gmail.

What other women do you look up to?
I’ve always looked up to Claire Johnson, one of my first Google managers and now VP at Google [x]. As a manager, she delivered tough love that was both direct and highly inspirational — a skill I’ve attempted to emulate throughout my management career. As a leader, she’s incisive and quick to get to the crux of the issue. She’s a classic “all-around athlete” who can take off her functional hat to lead any team. On top of all this, she’s authentic and incredibly witty.

What advice do you have for women interested or working in tech today?
For those considering tech, don’t be worried about having a non-traditional background. I’m a French major who worked in Support, who’s now leading a Sales organization across two continents. You just have to dive in! For women in tech, realize that the fact that you may be one of the few women in the room is an asset and a differentiator. Embrace your unique perspective and style. It contributes to a better outcome.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Mark DeMulder, Director of the National Geospatial Program at the U.S. Geological Survey. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Maps were made for public consumption, not for safekeeping under lock and key. From the dawn of society, people have used maps to learn what’s around us, where we are and where we can go.

Since 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been dedicated to providing reliable scientific information to better understand the Earth and its ecosystems. Mapping is an integral part of what we do. From the early days of mapping on foot in the field to more modern methods of satellite photography and GPS receivers, our scientists have created over 193,000 maps to understand and document changes to our environment.

Government agencies and NGOs have long used our maps everything from community planning to finding hiking trails. Farmers depend on our digital elevation data to help them produce our food. Historians look to our maps from years past to see how the terrain and built environment have changed over time.

While specific groups use USGS as a resource, we want the public at-large to find and use our maps, as well. The content of our maps—the information they convey about our land and its heritage—belongs to all Americans. Our maps are intended to serve as a public good. The more taxpayers use our maps and the more use they can find in the maps, the better.

We recognize that our expertise lies in mapping, so partnering with Google, which has expertise in Web design and delivery, is a natural fit. Google Maps Gallery helps us organize and showcase our maps in an efficient, mobile-friendly interface that’s easy for anyone to find what they’re looking for. Maps Gallery not only publishes USGS maps in high-quality detail, but makes it easy for anyone to search for and discover new maps.

Maps have always played a fundamental role in the development of society. Our understanding of the world through written history was built with the help of maps. Now, thanks to advances in mapping technologies and Maps Gallery, USGS maps can play an even broader role in more peoples’ day-to-day lives.


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and Gmail Blog)

Editor's note: The updates below apply to both consumers and Google Apps users.

Your email is important to you, and making sure it stays safe and always available is important to us. As you go about your day reading, writing, and checking messages, there are tons of security measures running behind the scenes to keep your email safe, secure, and there whenever you need it.

Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email. Gmail has supported HTTPS since the day it launched, and in 2010 we made HTTPS the default. Today's change means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you're using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.

In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100% of them—is encrypted while moving internally. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's data centers—something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.

Of course, being able to access your email is just as important as keeping it safe and secure. In 2013, Gmail was available 99.978% of the time, which averages to less than two hours of disruption for a user for the entire year. Our engineering experts look after Google's services 24x7 and if a problem ever arises, they're on the case immediately. We keep you informed by posting updates on the Apps Status Dashboard until the issue is fixed, and we always conduct a full analysis on the problem to prevent it from happening again.

Our commitment to the security and reliability of your email is absolute, and we’re constantly working on ways to improve. You can learn about additional ways to keep yourself safe online, like creating strong passwords and enabling 2-step verification, by visiting the Security Center:


Editor's note: Last year, the City of New York enacted legislation requiring the creation of a crime map that the public could use to get information about safety on city streets. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) worked with the New York Police Department (NYPD) to create an interactive visualization of crime trends in the city. Today we hear from Colin Reilly, Director of DoITT’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Unit, who led the team that developed the map.

For a bustling city of more than eight million, New York City has remarkably low crime rates — it’s the safest big city in the country. However, that doesn’t stop the government from always looking for new ways to keep the public safe.

Last year the city passed a law requiring the Department of Information Technology (DoITT) to create an interactive crime map. The ability to visualize crime incidents empowers people to make informed decisions about their safety. Additionally, publishing the data in such a public and accessible way makes each precinct more accountable for crime in its area.

With these goals in mind, we worked with the NYPD to release the NYC Crime Map. We used Google Maps Engine to layer information about specific crime incidents – including felonies like murder, rape and theft – on top of a Google Map. Now New Yorkers have a tool at their fingertips to quickly assess the safety of their surroundings through the familiar Google Map interface. People planning a move can search specific addresses before relocating. Neighborhood and community organizations use the map to view patterns over a certain period of time to understand, for instance, whether crime has increased in the area of a new nightclub.

The default map view lets you zoom in and out to quickly see the crime rate for a particular area. You can search for crimes by type and date range. We’ve also added a heat map that color codes crime incidents per 1,000 residents, which makes it easy to compare the concentration of crime by precinct or location. Previously, the police department posted raw data – such as listings of crimes, dates and addresses, on a website. The new, intuitive map interface visualizes these statistics by geographical area, type, and date, making it much easier to read and overall more helpful for New Yorkers.

Before starting the project we assessed several open-source tools, but we chose Google Maps for Business because it allowed us to develop the map quickly and without the need for specialized GIS skills. Google hosts all of the data in the cloud as well, which allows us to focus on our core mission – developing innovative technology solutions for the New York City. Thanks to Google Maps, the NYC Crime Map can handle large volumes of traffic – a third of which comes from mobile devices – which we couldn’t have managed on our own.

The NYC Crime Map is part of a larger citywide campaign to be more transparent and accountable to the public. With the easy-to-use interface the NYC Crime Map provides, policymakers and the public they serve are provided a clearer view into the safety of neighborhoods across the five boroughs.


Chromebooks are designed to make computing easier and better for everyone. Businesses of all sizes prefer their low total cost of ownership, central web-based management console and built-in, strong security mechanisms.

They’re also great devices for collaborating from anywhere, any time. Today we’re adding another tool for businesses to connect on the go. At the Enterprise Connect conference, Rajen Sheth, Director of Product Management, Chrome for Business announced we’re working with Cisco, and demonstrated a proof of concept of Cisco WebEx running on a Chromebook.
We're also integrating Cisco UC technologies into Google Apps, helping our joint customers work better together. Imagine joining a WebEx meeting directly from Calendar, or starting an instant meeting from Contacts or the Gmail People widget. Starting today, if you use Cisco and Google Apps, features you love, like messaging, fax, click-to-call and Cisco presence, are visible alongside Gmail.
If you’re a Cisco customer and you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with your Google sales team or contact Google Enterprise sales here. To learn more about Chromebooks, find more details here.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Andrew Switala, Network Administrator for Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company, a private hotel developer, owner and operator based in Raleigh, North Carolina. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Concord Hospitality operates nearly 100 Marriott and other premium-branded hotel properties in the United States and Canada, catering primarily to business travelers. We’ve expanded quickly in the past seven years, growing to about 4,900 employees and doubling the number of our hotel properties. The hotel industry is constantly changing and we strive to be at the forefront of the evolution even as we grow. We’re always looking to embrace the newest and best technology. So when we needed a technology to offer all employees access to human resources information – particularly those who don’t normally have access to a computer – we opted for the Google Chromebox.

All of our hotel employees use the communal Chromeboxes to view their pay stubs and tax forms, see how many vacation hours they’ve accrued, and ask for time off. They also can send any of this information to nearby printers using Google Cloud Print.

The management console for the Chromeboxes adds great efficiency to our HR operations. Chrome kiosk mode allows us to keep the Chromeboxes switched to show only the HR app, so employees always have what they need at their fingertips. My IT staff doesn’t need to worry about provisioning other apps, or monitoring Internet usage. Also, if our IT team needs to update anything, we can go into the management console, make the change, and apply it to all Chromeboxes at once.
The boxes were simple to set up and we finished our rollout of the devices and management console nearly two months early. Price was a big factor in our decision to deploy the Chromeboxes. Initially, we planned to invest in traditional computer kiosks, but the costs were prohibitive. Our human resources department only had $1,000 to spend on new technology for each property. We realized that one slim little Chromebox would accomplish essentially the same thing as a bulky, $5,000 computer kiosk in terms of information access for our staff – but for a fraction of the cost.

We put Chromeboxes in the breakrooms at every one of our hotels last year and employees are thrilled. They love the speed with which the pages load and find them easy to use; we haven’t needed any support so far. We created a Spanish-language tutorial for the employees who are not native English speakers and they’re able to hop right on the system. The computers are easy to use, durable and reliable.

Chromeboxes allow us to provide necessary resources and services to all of our employees without requiring full Internet access for workers who have limited needs and computer skills. While cost may have been the initial reason we went with Google, the benefits of easy management and speed have us considering additional uses. We may end up using Chromeboxes for our hotel guests in the future.


Editor's note: Today’s guest bloggers are from the World Bank, which provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Almost half of the world’s population lives each day on the equivalent of just a few dollars. In 2010, 1.2 billion people tried to feed and clothe their families, put roofs over their heads and pay for healthcare and other essential services with less than $1.25 a day. About 3 billion people lived on less than $4 a day.

That’s why at the World Bank, our goals are as enormous as the challenges people face. We’re working with countries to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost the prosperity of the poorest 40% of people in developing countries.

These goals are ambitious. But they’re also achievable if we start with data that’s open and accessible to everyone who needs it: the policymakers, researchers, civil society, journalists and citizens who are effecting transformational changes in their countries. At the World Bank, we’re serious about open data because it helps countries understand where their nations’ poorest live in relation to the resources they need most, such as food and medical supplies.

We’ve curated estimates for years of indicators, such as infant and maternal mortality, life expectancy, malnutrition, and access to water and sanitation. These indicators give country-level estimates that help shape a country’s development agenda—but we need to look beyond national totals and averages to better understand what’s happening locally, where there’s a unique set of challenges with an equally unique set of solutions.

Recently, we’ve been working with the World Health Organization to curate a dataset of malnutrition indicators. Now, this malnutrition dataset is in Google Maps Gallery—and it’s just one of the datasets that are helping countries map their people in relation to essential services, systems and resources. With Maps Gallery, we’re making national, subnational and granular data more understandable—and we’re also creating rich, multi-layered maps that paint a vibrant picture of the challenges countries face and the opportunities that await.

For example, through Maps Gallery, if policymakers overlaid statistics about sanitation, health services and poverty on top of a map of malnutrition rates, they could better understand the specific causes of malnutrition in a particular area and guide planning on how to address them. This knowledge spurs debate and improves decision-making—helping countries target their investments and most importantly, save lives.

These datasets are part of our Open Data Initiative. We’ve also geo-coded our World Bank projects in countries with the locations where they operate, making this data publicly available. And we’ve created our own “mash-ups” with this information and other datasets through Mapping for Results. We’re looking forward to seeing the innovative ways that others are using the datasets.
For years, at the World Bank we’ve been gathering and curating data that we’ve made available through our Open Data Initiative, in machine-readable formats. Bringing the figures in a spreadsheet to life, through maps in the Gallery and other ways, helps reveal the story hidden among the data. And that story helps governments make better, more informed decisions and develop innovative solutions to their trickiest problems.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Tim Dickson, Director of Technology for Auberge Resorts, a boutique luxury hotel company with hotels in seven locations, including the Auberge Resorts, Esperanza Resort, Calistoga Ranch, Solage and Malliouhana, a new property in the British West Indies. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

It may seem counter-intuitive in an industry that strives to offer a more human touch, but at Auberge Resorts we try to minimize guest interaction with staff. Our luxury hotels offer immersive experiences ranging from mineral baths and wine tastings in Napa Valley to private casitas overlooking the Sea of Cortez in Baja Mexico. The less time our guests spend at the front desk, the more time they have to explore all that our properties have to offer. So we purchased Chromebooks for our guests to check in and out at their convenience — whether that’s from the pool or their room — but they don’t have to wait for us.

Employees at our resorts and residential vacation rental properties will be using Chromebooks behind the front desk for the day-to-day operations soon, too. They’re easy to deploy and support, which saves us money from an infrastructure and maintenance perspective and makes life easier for the small IT teams in our various locations. Plus, Chromebooks automatically check for security updates and download them as needed, saving our team from the tedious task of installing frequent patches. We can focus on providing the best services and experience for our guests, instead of dealing with computer issues.

We also switched our 2,000 employees from Microsoft Outlook to Google Apps. One of our primary goals in moving to Google Apps was to improve coordination among sales and marketing staff across the company. Employees at the resorts and offices in New York, San Diego and Los Angeles can share the same documents and spreadsheets. Sales associates can work in the same doc at the same time and see which potential guests have been called so they can avoid duplicating efforts.

Using Google Apps hasn’t just improved our productivity - it’s changing our corporate culture. Meetings used to be boring: people sat on phone calls, reading from agendas. Now, employees are excited to have discussions over Google Hangouts. They bring out our employees’ creativity and personalities, and they getting to know each other better as a result. During a recent companywide Hangout to share updates about our sustainability efforts, teams from the different resorts acted out skits to relay stories about their conservation efforts. One team installed a chicken coop on their property and wore chicken costumes on the Hangout as part of their performance, and another group told their story using a children’s rhyme.

Google Apps and Chromebooks are bringing our employees closer together, helping us improve communication and productivity and enhancing the resort experience for our guests in ways we never dreamed of before. The technology allows us to improve our customer service in a unique manner, to offer visitors more flexibility and convenience and to set our resorts apart. Guests still get the smile and top-notch service they expect from our friendly staff, but we let them be in control over their own experiences.


(Cross-posted on the Google Drive Blog)

You use Google Docs and Sheets to get all sorts of stuff done—whether you're staying up late to finish that final paper or just getting started on a new project at the office. But to help take some of that work off your shoulders, today we're launching add-ons—new tools created by developer partners that give you even more features in your documents and spreadsheets.
To browse through add-ons for Docs and Sheets, select Get add-ons in the Add-ons menu of any open document or spreadsheet. (Add-ons for spreadsheets are only available in the new Google Sheets).
Once you install an add-on it will become available across all of your documents or spreadsheets and you can start using it right away.

Here are just a few examples of how add-ons can help you do more with Docs and Sheets:

Get approvals from Docs and Sheets 
Need to gather approvals or feedback? Letter Feed Workflows routes your document to the right people and adds a simple “Approve” button right inside your document or spreadsheet. You’ll be notified as soon as it’s approved, and can publish the final version with a single click.
Print address labels and name tags 
With Avery Label Merge you can seamlessly import addresses or names from Sheets into Docs for printing. Just pick the type of Avery labels you’ll be printing and your document will be formatted to match the layout of your label pack.
Create a bibliography without leaving Docs 
Citing sources is about to get much easier for the millions of students who use Google Docs to write papers. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator helps you cite books, journals, and websites in MLA, APA, and Chicago style by entering in titles, journal article names, and websites right inside your document.

Send customized emails 
With Merge by Mailchimp you can send customized emails from Google Docs. Use merge tags to pull info from a spreadsheet into your document. Once your data is merged, hit send and your personalized emails will be delivered.

These are just some of the many add-ons that are available for you to use right now in the Docs or Sheets add-on stores, with lots more on the way.


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Andrew DiMichele, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Omada Health in San Francisco. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Every young company has to make careful decisions about technology purchases and how to get the most value for their money. At Omada Health, the decisions get more challenging: How do we stay compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)? Can we manage how people in our company access and share protected health information? Can we assure our customers that we can keep this data secure – and can we do it affordably?
Chromebooks allow us to build our business in a way that we think is best for reducing the impact of chronic disease. Omada creates software programs that help at-risk people improve their health. Insurers and employers buy our programs, which help people share their progress as they become healthier and receive support from a social community. Our first product, Prevent, is a 16-week online program that helps people lose weight and change the factors that put them at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

All work by our health coaches is done with participants, but their task is still to make sure the program's goals are being met. These coaches work from home or at client sites – for instance, they may be nutritionists or dieticians with their own businesses. We need to give them tools for managing Omada programs and participants without worrying that data is being accessed by unauthorized people. We considered allowing health coaches to use their own computers, or supplying them with laptops from other brands, but we realized we’d have no way to control how or where they download information, or who else might use the machines and gain access to our participant data.

Supplying health coaches with Chromebooks is the simplest, most cost-effective way we’ve found to provide easy yet secure access to program information. Through the management console, we configure our Chromebooks to delete local data when users log off, so if a Chromebook is lost or stolen, data won’t fall into the wrong hands. We limit logins to our health coaches only, so no one else can use a Chromebook to gain entry to our coaching and program solutions. Because Chrome is the browser on Chromebooks, and because we can prevent other programs from being loaded onto the devices, we can protect ourselves from malware and viruses that could damage our networks.

When we talk to prospective customers for our Prevent program, they have many questions about how we secure health information and remain compliant. Giving Chromebooks to our health coaches makes us confident we can meet these strict requirements in a way that doesn't break the bank.


When we discover something amazing – whether it’s a new local coffee shop or a tool that improves the way we work – we want to share it with people we know so they can also benefit.

For those of us who use Google Apps, the ability to access all of our documents from anywhere on any device and being able to seamlessly collaborate with colleagues or customers across the world, are impressive moments. These are moments we want to share with friends and colleagues because the more the people in our networks use Google Apps, the more seamlessly we can collaborate with them -- whether it’s video conferencing via Hangouts, working together on Docs or sharing calendars. Best of all, it means we can all begin to experience a new way of working.

Many of the millions of Google Apps customers learned about tools like Hangouts, Drive and Gmail for business from their customers, friends and networks. To help continue the momentum, we’re launching the Google Apps Referral Program. The referral program makes it easy to share Google Apps with your network and show them how they too can use these tools at work. To show our appreciation, we’re offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer.

Joining is simple. The Google Apps Referral Program is currently available for anyone based in the US and Canada. Find more program details here and start benefiting when the businesses you know sign up.


Editor's note: This week we’re featuring news, stories and updates about our vibrant partner community as we host more than 700 partners for our second annual Global Partner Summit. Today’s guest blogger is Lorna Syson, founder of Lorna Syson, a British countryside-inspired home accessories company that sells directly online and in interior design shops around the world. Keep an eye on this blog and our Google+ page and visit our program site for more information on the Google Apps Reseller Program.

I have an assistant and interns who come and go, but for the most part, Lorna Syson -- an award-winning purveyor of British countryside-inspired interior accessories -- is a one-woman operation of five years. I wear many hats: founder, designer, salesperson, accountant, customer support specialist, IT admin and marketer.

People always ask me what my secret to success is -- it’s technology. Since the beginning, I’ve used Google Apps for Business to help me accomplish all these jobs. By accessing Google Apps on my smartphone and tablet, I’m able to manage my emails, calendars, inventory, invoices, and budget, all while running back and forth between meetings. The beauty of keeping records in Google Drive is that my assistant and I are able to update them simultaneously thanks to real-time collaboration.

Recently, I added Sage One, the online invoicing and accounting from Sage to my workflow and it works perfectly with Google Apps. Anytime I spend money or send a bill to a customer, Sage One captures the record and stores it in Google Drive. This way, I know exactly how much money I’m sitting on at the end of the day, and it helps me make smarter business decisions. Previously, I spent anywhere from two days to a week going through boxes of bills and entering them into Excel, trying to figure out how much money I had in my accounts and what payables were outstanding. Now with a couple of taps, I can see which customers are overdue on payments, find them in Google Contacts, and follow up immediately to settle the account.

Because I juggle so many roles, I find myself working from the road far more than from my office. I could easily be on a train, in a park getting design inspiration, or in a coffee shop. This wouldn’t be possible without the mobile capabilities of Google Apps and Sage One. These cloud-based services allow me to stay on top of all aspects of my business from literally anywhere. That, in turn, gives me the freedom to do the stuff that has to be done in person, like meet up with customers and suppliers face to face.

Now that I’m somewhat established in the UK, my next step is to expand internationally. It’ll take a lot more marketing and face time with prospective customers, but armed with the right mobile tools, anything is possible.


Editor's note: This week we’re featuring news, stories and updates about our vibrant partner community as we host more than 700 partners for our second annual Global Partner Summit. Keep an eye on this blog, our Google+ page and visit our program site for more information on the Google Apps Reseller Program.

As our second annual Global Partner Summit comes to a close, we bid adieu to the 700 guests that joined us from all over the world for three days of thought leadership, networking and best practice sharing (and, of course, a bit of fun). Our partners heard from Googlers including Amit Singh, President of Google Enterprise, and Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome and Apps, about the state and future of business technology, all while taking in the vision of our Enterprise business.
Amit Singh and Sundar Pichai discussing 2014 plans with our partners
We also announced a handful of exciting updates and launches to better support our growing partner community, including:

  • The news that we now have more than 10,000 Google Apps Resellers.
  • A formal technology partner track as part of the Google Apps Partner Program, to enhance our relationships with software vendors that build complementary business apps and tools.
  • A tiered Google Cloud Platform Partner Program. Our Premier tier recognizes top service and technology partners, while we've also opened up the program for new partners to join.
  • The launch of the Chrome partner program, which includes resellers of Chrome OS management console, as well as technology and content partners that develop business and education applications for the Chrome OS and browser.

    Finally, we’d like to congratulate our 2013 Global Partners of the Year:

    Our partners aren't just partners — they're a critical part of everything we do. From on-boarding and training new Cloud customers to creating specialized software to integrate with Apps, from reselling Chrome OS to managing change management, they ensure our customers get the most out of the technology they use.

    Until next year!


    Editor's note: This week we’re featuring news, stories and updates about our vibrant partner community as we host more than 700 partners for our second annual Global Partner Summit. Keep an eye on this blog, our Google+ page and visit our program site for more information on the Google Apps Reseller Program.

    As many companies have realized for some time now, moving to the cloud is no longer a questionable proposition — it’s inevitable. Google offers core productivity, collaboration and communication tools within the Google Apps suite, but many companies have realized that to truly run their business in the cloud they need many more tools that address specialized needs like accounting, customer relationship management and project management.

    Four years ago — nearly to the day — we launched an online storefront to help our customers find cloud applications that integrated with Google Apps. Since that launch Google Apps customers have added over 200M installs of the more than 750 offerings in the Google Apps Marketplace, which run the gamut of business apps. From UberConference, which integrates conference calling with Hangouts, to DocuSign, which integrates digital signatures with Google Drive, customers can access great apps that help them run their businesses even better. Meanwhile, more and more software developers are finding a highly engaged customer base through the marketplace. Smartsheet, for example, which offers a project management app integrated with Google Drive, discovered that customers from the Google Apps Marketplace share their projects 50% more and add 100% more attachments than the norm.

    Today, to build on this momentum, we’re announcing a formal technology track in the Google Apps Partner Program for software vendors that build complementary business apps and tools. This new program will sit alongside our existing Reseller Program, which already includes 10,000+ partners. The new track is designed to recognize technology partners for their successes and offer them technical, marketing and sales support to help bring the products they build to more people.

    We’ll start with a limited launch and begin adding existing technology partners to the program today and we’ll open the doors to all software vendors next quarter. Interested in getting involved in the meantime? If you have a business app you think would benefit Google Apps customers, check out our program guide and list your app in the Google Apps Marketplace.


    (Cross-posted from the Google Cloud Platform Blog.)

    Editor's note: This week we’re featuring news, stories and updates about our vibrant partner community as we host more than 700 partners for our second annual Global Partner Summit.Keep an eye on this blog, our Google+ page and visit our program site for more information on the Google Apps Reseller Program.

    As part of our continued investment in Google Cloud Platform, we have worked hard to build a great community of partners. These organizations provide everything from hands-on deployment and technical support to customized application development. Since its inception, we have welcomed 161 partners into the Partner Program.

    Today, we are expanding our Partner Program in order to recognize our top service and technology partners and provide the means for any company to qualify as a Registered Company. The Partner Program’s three tiers are highlighted below:

    • Premier Partner - all the benefits of the core partner program and access to premier level services. 
    • Authorized Partner - core partner program with branding, relationship management and access to online resources and training.
    • Registered Company - entry level status with access to online resources and training.

      These tiers are the first steps of many to further develop our partner community so we can provide the best possible experiences for everyone out there while working hand in hand with those companies that make it possible.

      If you're ready to join our community and help bring Google Cloud Platform to everyone please learn more and apply here.

      If you’re looking for technology or services partners with experience with Google Cloud Platform, check out our partner directory where you can find partners who can help you move to the cloud.


      (Cross-posted on the Gmail Blog.)

      Whether you’re checking your email first thing in the morning or as you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, you want to get your messages as quickly as possible. With today’s update to the Gmail iOS App, it’s easier to do just that.

      The app now fully supports background app refresh, which means your Gmail messages will be pre-fetched and synced so they’re right there when you open the app—no more annoying pauses while you wait for your inbox to refresh. This feature requires iOS 7, and you’ll also need to turn on background app refresh and notifications (badge or any other type) for the Gmail app.

      The Gmail app also now supports sign-in across Google iOS apps, including Maps, Drive, YouTube and Chrome. Sign in to one, and you’ll be signed in to all (this also works for signing out). So you won’t have to type in that 27-character password or retrieve your 2-step verification code every time you navigate to another Google app. You may need to re-login after you update the app, but then you’ll be all set.

      Head over to the App Store now to download the updated app so you can save a bit more time each day.


      Editor's note: This week we’re featuring news, stories and updates about our vibrant partner community as we host more than 700 partners for our second annual Global Partner Summit. Today, we hear from Simon Corbett, Founder & Managing Director of Jargon PR, based outside London. Keep an eye on this blog, our Google+ page and visit our program site for more information on the Google Apps Reseller Program.

      I worked at a few large PR companies for a decade before starting my own shop. I saw an opportunity for a small, nimble company to help businesses in the tech industry, and launched Jargon PR in a converted country barn outside London in 2008. Since then, we’ve grown to 12 people, added an office in the U.S. and even netted a few awards along the way.

      The PR industry is extremely competitive, and we’re always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves. A few years back, we realized there was an opportunity to do just that with Google Apps. Most of us were using Gmail at home and wanted to be able to create, share and collaborate on documents in real-time at work, too.

      There was one big, hairy obstacle in the way: we used Microsoft Outlook, worked on multiple devices and operating systems, and I had no idea how to switch to Google. How would this work if I was using a MacBook Air and another team member was on a PC? We needed someone to walk us through the process, hold our hand and make sure our work didn’t skip a beat along the way.

      That’s where Ancoris came in (and saved the day). I’d researched online to learn more about Google Apps Partners, and, after realizing Ancoris were just down the road from us, set up a meeting. The team had done dozens of these migrations, both large and small, and talked us through the process from start to finish, addressing each of my concerns. They took the ambiguity and fear out of the switch. A few meetings later, our Ancoris team came to our office to make sure everything went smoothly, and we were up and running in less than a day. It was quick — no drama, no stress.

      Now, gone are the old fashioned days of bad, hit-your-head-on-the-desk technology. No more asking someone to email the latest version of a document, and having to wait for different time zones to wake up to share them. We do all our work on shared Google Docs, so everyone has access to the most up-to-date information and can collaborate in real-time, whether they’re in London or California in somewhere in between. I can open a draft press release from the Drive app on my mobile phone while I’m sitting with my clients at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre. And as the company grows, it takes 30 seconds to set up a new employee with an Apps account, no training required — they’re already using it at home, so using it at work is an organic experience.

      Our partnership with Ancoris has continued far past the migration, too. They send us email newsletters with product updates and new features. They’re accessible on chat and via a tech hotline for quick, one-off questions. And because they’re local, they’re never too far away for an in-person visit. Moving to Google Apps, and doing it with the help of a great partner, has been a game changer for our business.


      Last week, I spoke at a panel with a few peers at RSA, a leading security conference. Microsoft CISO Bret Arsenault, Verizon risk expert Wade Baker, security guru Bruce Schneier and I joined together onstage for a session entitled (and begging the question) “Is the Cloud Really More Secure than On-Premise?” It gave us the opportunity to wholeheartedly agree that the cloud can be as safe as — or in many cases, safer than — storing data on-premise. We even contemplated hosting our data in a rival’s cloud.

      It may not surprise you that we believe this — the cloud is what we do. Yet, it was great to hear the panel agree that computing should be outsourced to experts whose job is to provide the best possible security. Leading cloud providers have the size to invest more in security, the speed to react faster to threats and they can work harder to stay ahead of the bad guys.

      Millions of businesses have placed their trust in the cloud over recent years, and we take this responsibility seriously. Google’s business customers now include over half of the Fortune 500 and FTSE indexes, three quarters of the DAX, and more than 30 million students, teachers and other education staff.

      Looking towards the future, we’ll see even more organizations embrace the cloud — because, as many of our customers have testified, the cloud is often more useful and more secure than existing on-premise solutions. And as they do, you can expect us to evolve our protections and drive security innovations to continue to keep our customers safe.