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Google announced the launch of Google Apps for Your Domain (http://www.google.com/a), a set of hosted applications for organizations that want to provide high quality 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.
"Organizations of all sizes face a common challenge of helping their users communicate and share information more effectively," said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, enterprise, at Google. "A hosted service like Google Apps for Your Domain eliminates many of the expenses and hassles of maintaining a communications infrastructure, which is welcome relief for many small business owners and IT staffers. Organizations can let Google be the experts in delivering high quality email, messaging, and other web-based services while they focus on the needs of their users and their day-to-day business."
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. (Individual products offered through the Google Apps for Your Domain service, such as Gmail and Google Talk, are already available in a variety of languages for end users.) Domain administrators and IT managers can visit www.google.com/a to learn more and to register for the product.