Most people don't think much further than "Searching the web" when you mention Google. None the less, it's quickly becoming one of the largest supplier of IT services for all areas of an enterprise. Google is matching up to Microsoft in terms of "Enterprise IT". With Android being the mobile operating system of Google, let's see how it can help you integrating Google services into your enterprise.
In the Google apps suite, you can find a section for the management of your mobile devices. With the Policy tool on your device, an administrator can change the rights for your device, set policies for passwords and data protection or even kill your device in case of loss.
As an Android user, you too can benefit from this management tool. You can remotely change the pin (in case you forgot), locate your phone (in case you lost it) and make it ring ridiculously loud to alert anyone near, or simply find it back in the mess of your home.
The policies also closely interact with other Google services. You can set permissions on the Google docs usage, the mail accounts, mobile alerts, calendar...
Using the infamous Google Docs, you can theoretically replace your entire Microsoft Office suite by a free-of-charge alternative. I say theoretically, because Google docs does not pack any advanced markup features like the Word styles, Word art, shapes, Funky templates for front pages, etc... On the other hand, there's some very nice features in there which are less elaborate in the MS version. Namely, collaboration on the same document, at the same time.
What mainly interest us, is the fact that all your documents are immediately stored in the cloud, are available on any which Android device and each device with a decent and up to date web browser. The tools themselves are equally web based, so you could theoretically use a thin client, or a Chromebook. In any case, having your Android based device, allows you to take all your documents with you, wherever you go.
Well, obviously, you're not going to develop on your smartphone, but none the less, some development tools are apparently available for Android devices. You can actually develop new Android screens, on your Android device. Nifty, but I would question the added value. In any case, Google has plenty of freely available development tools. Most are Eclipse based, which is free anyway, and offers a full fledged development environment for Google apps, Android apps, websites and others.
One of the most famous free mail services must be Gmail. The first mail service offering a full gigabyte of online storage. Meanwhile, that amount has risen to over 7 GB. Imagine how much you pay for your Exchange server, maintenance and infrastructure and compare it to 4euro per month, per user, for mail, docs, apps, device management and online storage.
This mail service is fully available on your mobile device. It comes with a calendar, a corporate contact list and a personal contact list.
ERP & CRM
In the Marketplace, you can find multiple cheap ERP and CRM tools, which practically all feature a mobile version as well. Whether thee can replace your SAP implementation is highly doubtful, but it's nice they exist.
In an earlier blog, I described how Google+ is actually a collaboration platform, rather than a social networking platform. Well, a collaboration platform is in fact a social networking platform, but it goes beyond the simple sharing of your ideas, pictures and videos. A collaboration platform allows you to set up project teams, share documents, collaborate on documents together and publish results.
All this functionality is integrated in Google+, which in turn is available on your Android device. There is obviously a Google+ app on your Android device which allows you to quickly exchange information with team members. Next to that, you can make extensive use of the Google Apps for document authoring and sharing.
Cloud storage and services
Using the Google features makes you enjoy the Cloud experience out of the box. You can't get around that. All applications and storage space of Google reside in the cloud. On one hand, that's a blessing. It means that none of your important documents will sit local on your device. On the other hand, it means that all of your important documents will reside somewhere on a server, in a datacenter, somewhere in the world. This can have legal implications for your enterprise.
With the browser "Chrome" you can enjoy a safe surfing experience, which also has a very smart resource system on laptops and desktops. More importantly however, it features also a synchronization system for your RSS feeds, bookmarks, blacklists etc... This means that you have all your information available on all your devices, linked to your Google account.
None of these services are exclusive to Android. Google has service enablers for all popular mobile operating systems. So integrating Google in your enterprise can leverage a lot of benefits to your organization, but it's not really a driver to choose for Android. Although you do get first use of every new Google service on your Android device via a native application and, any Android device syncs out of the box with all Google services. Less hassle for the user.
This article is a part in the #AndroidForEnterprise 1: Management Overview series
Also appeared on my personal blog