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Google Bolsters G Suite Enterprise Management and Security

Looking to chip away at Microsoft's growth in Office 365 subscriptions, Google this week added new enterprise, management and security features to its rival G Suite. Google will roll out the upgraded features this month to organizations with G Suite Enterprise edition licenses.

Google's G Suite remains the most direct alternative to Office 365, given that the search giant offers a complete and comparable alternative platform comprising of productivity, collaboration, messaging and voice communication services.

By most accounts, Office 365 has made strong inroads among enterprises of all sizes, as Microsoft moves to shift many of its Exchange and SharePoint customers to the cloud. But the market is still ripe and the upgrades Google is adding to G Suite Enterprise promise to make it more appealing to businesses by addressing critical data retention, corporate policy and security requirements.

Google claims it has 3 million paying customers, including PwC, Whirlpool and Woolworths, while Microsoft last week reported nearly 24.9 million consumer-based subscriptions of Office 365 -- up from 20.6 million a year ago. Microsoft hasn't revealed enterprise subscriptions, though it said its overall cloud business, which includes Azure, grew 93% year-over-year last quarter.

The upgrade to Google G Suite announced this week aims to close the gap between the two services by improving management controls and security. "Having greater control and visibility when protecting sensitive assets, however, should also be a top concern in today's world," wrote Reena Nadkarni, Google's product manager for G Suite, in a blog post announcing the upgrades. "That's why starting today, we're giving customers the critical control and visibility they expect (and their CTOs and regulators often require) in G Suite."

The new features include:

  • Extended access control for administrators with Security Key enforcement, allowing IT management to require the use of these keys. Admins will also be able to manage the deployment of Security Keys and view usage reports, according to Nadkarni.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) now extended to Google Drive with DLP for Gmail. Building on the DLP features launched in 2015, Nadkarni said it now allows administrators to configure rules and scan Google Drive files and Gmail messages to enforce policies.
  • S/MIME support for Gmail. Customers will have the option to bring their own certificates to encrypt messages using S/MIME, while administrators will be able to enforce usage and establish DLP policies based on the requirements of specific lines of business.
  • BigQuery integration with Gmail, aimed at offering extended analytics. BitQuery aims to allow IT to run custom report and dashboards.
  • Support for third-party e-mail archiving.  In addition to Google Vault, customers will now have the option to use other archiving services, including HP Autonomy and Veritas.

If these additions will move the needle on market share remains to be seen. But these features certainly up the ante by offering key data protection services many IT decision makers are demanding and should be welcome to existing customers. Many of these features are slated to roll out this month, according to Google's G Suite Release Calendar.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/01/2017 at 10:32 AM


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