Google Inc. has launched Google Apps for Your Domain, a set of hosted applications for organizations that want to provide communications tools to their users without the hassle of installing and maintaining software or hardware.
In addition to customizing the user interface with their own branding and color scheme, organizations can tailor the service to their needs by mixing and matching the email, messaging, calendaring and other tools offered through Google Apps for Your Domain. Over time, Google will offer versions of Google Apps for Your Domain that are oriented toward the needs of a variety of organizations, from family websites and community groups to non-profits and small businesses, as well as universities, large enterprises, and ISPs.
Google Apps for Your Domain, an expansion of the Gmail for Your Domain service that launched in February 2006, currently includes Gmail web email, the Google Talk instant messaging and voice calling service, collaborative calendaring through Google Calendar, and web page design, publishing and hosting via Google Page Creator.
Domain administrators use a simple web-based control panel to manage their user account list, set up aliases and distribution lists, and enable the services they want for their domain. End users with accounts that have been set up by their administrator simply browse to customized login pages on any web-connected computer. The service scales easily to accommodate growing user bases and storage needs while drastically reducing maintenance costs.
Google will provide organizations with two choices of service.
A standard edition of Google Apps for Your Domain is available today as a beta product without cost to domain administrators or end users. Key features include 2 gigabytes of email storage for each user, easy to use customization tools, and help for administrators via email or an online help center. Furthermore, organizations that sign up during the beta period will not ever have to pay for users accepted during that period (provided Google continues to offer the service).
A premium version of the product is being developed for organizations with more advanced needs. More information, including details on pricing, will be available soon.
As a hosted service, Google Apps for Your Domain is available worldwide, though the control panel for domain administrators is currently available only in US-English. Google is currently working to make the service available to administrators in additional languages.