Posted:


People want tools that are both powerful and easy to use. For employees, that means they should be able to access their work wherever they are, on their favorite device or share their work securely with their colleagues, even if they’re in different offices, cities or countries. For IT managers, that means never worrying about storage quotas again, or being able to track access and sharing across users and files. We realize how important this is, so earlier this summer we introduced Google Drive for Work, a package that wraps all of this together for just $10 per user per month. Here’s a look at what’s been brewing with Drive for Work over the past two months.

Helping employees collaborate on the go

Before we introduced Drive for Work, businesses like retailer Chico’s and aerospace and defense company Rockwell Collins were using Drive to increase collaboration across distributed teams. Travis Perkins relies on Google Drive to store and share more than 1.3 million documents across thousands of physical locations, to help reduce employee travel and save time. OVS uses Google Drive to streamline its supply chain by sharing and syncing their files across desktops, tablets and smartphones so people have the information they need, no matter where they are or what device they’re using.

Today more than 1,800 businesses sign up for Drive for Work each week. Customers like WeddingWire are taking advantage of the full capabilities of Drive for Work to help provide their employees with the collaboration and file sharing tools they need on any device, whether they’re in the office or on the road.

Extending the Drive ecosystem

Drive for Work includes everything you need to keep all your work safe, easy to share and available anywhere. A growing number of partners are building tools on top of the Drive platform to meet the particular needs of our customers. In addition to the new Audit view built into the admin console, Drive for Work also includes an Audit API that partners have used to build advanced insight and security extensions like Data Loss Prevention (DLP). Other partners have built tools to help move business content into Drive from any location, including old file servers, local hard drives or other cloud storage products.

Keeping your work safe and available

To help keep your work safe, all files uploaded to Google Drive will be encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers. Our reliability engineers monitor Google’s systems 24x7 in order to quickly identify and address any issues that might arise. Last year, Google Drive achieved 99.985% availability, which averages to less than 90 minutes of disruption per year (our SLA guarantees 99.9%). If there’s ever an issue, you can read up-to-date status information on the Status Dashboard, and if you ever need to speak to someone, help is just a call away in over a dozen languages across 50 countries.

If you’d like to join the more than 190 million people actively using Drive, you can learn more about Drive for Work online or contact us for more information. If you’re already a Google Apps customer, you can upgrade with just a couple of clicks in the Admin console.

Collaborating should be easy. Let technology do the hard work and help you get back to what’s most important — your business.

Posted:


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Chris Williams, Director of IT and Support Services for Chapters Health System, which provides post-acute, palliative, and hospice care to patients in west-central Florida. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Chapters Health System, the role of IT is to provide software, connectivity and hardware to caregivers so they can spend less time wrestling with technology, and more time caring for patients. Our goal is to make the IT portion transparent to providing superior patient care. Most of our nurses and caregivers are mobile – they visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities or in their homes.

To best support them, we virtualized our clinical and business software applications, and provide access to them via Citrix XenApp via Receiver. We also make sure our caregivers can stay connected through a Verizon 4G Mifi device. As for hardware, caregivers were using Windows notebooks but boot-up delays, long setup times for new machines, and the bulkiness of the devices were slowing down and frustrating our caregivers. In addition, the devices were hard to manage by the IT support staff.

To find a solution, we took a democratic approach and asked caregivers to evaluate four devices: the HP Chromebook 14 for Business, Apple iPad, a Windows thin client, and a traditional Windows notebook. Caregivers rated the HP Chromebook 14 higher than any other device in all areas, including form factor, battery life, ease of use, speed and performance of virtualized applications like Microsoft Outlook and clinical applications, as well as web applications. Ninety-two out of 139 caregivers who participated in our study voted the Chromebook as their favorite device for work.
Luckily for us in IT, Chromebooks for Business are also the easiest devices to deploy and manage, freeing up our own time for other projects. The biggest change we’ve heard about so far is improved speed. With a traditional Windows notebook, caregivers faced three to four minute boot times, plus multiple logins to Windows, their VPN, and then finally Citrix and the applications. With Chromebooks, boot time shrank dramatically and Chromebooks start up right at the Citrix login screen, so caregivers can access clinical data right away.

Speed benefits extend to setup time as well. Some of our supplemental and weekend caregivers borrow from a pool of shared devices, and it took 40 minutes to set up each Windows notebook. With Chromebooks for Business, we can hop into the management console and set up a new Chromebook in under five minutes. Even better, we use the management console to configure access for users so that if they need to borrow a machine we don’t have to get involved at all—they just pick up a Chromebook and log in. Since each caregiver can get his or her specific user experience on any Chromebook, it's easy for the devices to be shared.

For additional security and simplicity, we use Chromebook for Business’s Kiosk mode to offer one single application, the Citrix login screen, but we’ll be extending it other web applications soon. We also use the management console to mandate the proxy server for Internet access—a feature that’s built-in to each Chromebook for Business.

Chromebooks are giving back precious time to caregivers and their patients. In fact, we’re looking at purchasing many more Chromebooks in the near future so we can extend the benefits to even more Chapters Health employees.

Posted:


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Daniel Chiha, Communications Specialist (Operations) at Dick Smith, an electronics retailer in Australia and New Zealand.

The Retail Operations team at Dick Smith moved to Google Apps just over a year ago to improve the communication and coordination between our 3,000 or so staff in 376 stores across Australia and New Zealand. Since then, we’ve seen some pretty dramatic improvements and efficiencies in the way we get information out to our staff, thanks to Google Drive and Google Sites.

Our workforce is very mobile. Not only do we have a fleet of 23 Area Managers who spend their time between multiple stores, but our 3,000 in-store staff spend most of their time on the floor with customers. Our team depends on a steady stream of updates and materials throughout the week — from new product guides, promotional activities, upcoming launches through to employee safety processes — so it’s not only important that people see the updates meant for them, but that we’re able to track the critical messages for compliance.
Before moving to Google Apps, it took up to 24 hours to get these messages out to everyone through a series of phone hook ups, faxes, emails and a document delivery system that polled nightly. This was especially challenging when dealing with issues like product callbacks or promotions, where it’s essential for the team to move fast in order to avoid potential problems and ensure that new offers are immediately available to customers.

Now, with Google Drive and Google Sites, we’re able to provide thousands of employees with a bird's-eye view of important updates and key documents across the company. That way, if we need to get an urgent message out or a new employee needs access to a how-to guidebook, there’s just one place they need to look — and we can get everything listed or posted quickly and effectively. We create a master site with sections for each team, with links to Drive folders that house everything from planograms and promotion details to instructional guidebooks and tickets. Area Managers can then access both the site and the files from their tablets or phones on the go, and our sales staff can see updates from their own devices or the store computers.

We’ve also built a new system with Forms and Sheets to streamline operational communications. Instead of relying on complex email trails and lots of phone calls, employees now submit their sign-offs in a single Form. Responses are captured in a shared Sheet that the Operations team uses to track feedback and responses in real-time.

Google Apps helped us think outside the square and create a unified and integrated communications platform that can be accessed instantly on any device. But more importantly, it ensures that our store teams have immediate access to the latest information, which in turn provides our customers with a better experience in store.

Posted:


Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Arvin Reyes, Chief Information Officer for KFC Philippines, which operates 230 restaurants and six plants in that country. To learn more, read the full case study, or see what other organizations that use Google Drive have to say.

KFC has been on a steady growth path since being introduced to the Philippines in 1967. With restaurants, plants, and offices across the country, fast and easy communication and information sharing are vital to our success. This means tools like file storage, email, calendaring, and document creation need to be user-friendly for employees and relatively trouble-free for our IT team. But until recently, our mix of email and document management software caused more problems than it solved – with server over-capacity and slow response time, they just slowed down our business growth.

We decided that a single communications platform with everything from storage to email to document creation was the necessary solution, and Google Apps was our answer. Not only did Apps meet all our requirements for cost-effectiveness, reliability and ease-of-use, but in Drive we saw a way to help our increasingly mobile workforce, which needs access to documents while out of the office.

We’ve boosted our productivity on creative work by 15% by switching from snail mail to Google Drive. Before we made the move, we sent creative materials back and forth between our home office and our advertising agency through messengers and the postal service, racking up costs and taking time away from other tasks. Now, with Drive, we can share large files like high-resolution images and merchandise artwork through the cloud, so material gets to our agency (and back to us) faster and at a significantly lower cost. And with a single location to store everything we’re working on, we’ve dramatically improved our ability to collaborate on projects.

Gmail makes us better at communicating: Now that everyone has 30GB of mail storage available, they don’t need to waste time constantly cleaning out their inboxes to make room for new emails, or asking colleagues to re-send emails because they can’t find them. Our IT team loves Gmail because complaints about email services have decreased to zero since we began using it – in fact, IT’s support work for communication tools has gone down by 25% since we started using Google Apps. That gives our team more time to focus on activities that are more directly tied to the bottom line.

Google Apps makes everyday problems like scheduling meetings disappear. Our old decision making process used to require the scheduling of several meetings and calls, with various reports and documents emailed back and forth among different teams. Now we schedule meetings on Google Calendar, where we can see everyone’s availability. For these meetings, we use a single shared document in Google Docs that serves as a running update on progress. This new workflow fundamentally changed the way we work with one another. What used to take days to decide is now possible within hours.

Google Apps not only makes it easy for us to manage storage and bandwidth, it keeps our employees happy. After six months on the platform, 95% of people told us they’re satisfied with Google Apps, which means they can enjoy their work of serving and helping our customers.

Posted:


Google Drive for Work is a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls and features, such as encryption at rest.

If you're getting ready to move your company to Drive, one of the first things on your mind is how to migrate all your existing files with as little hassle as possible. It's easy to migrate your files by uploading them directly to Drive or using the Drive Sync client. But, what if you have files stored elsewhere that you want to consolidate? Or what if you want to migrate multiple users at once? Many independent software vendors (ISVs) have built solutions to help organizations migrate their files from different File Sync and Share (FSS) solutions, local hard drives and other data sources. Here are some of the options available for you to use:
  • Cloud Migrator, by Cloud Technology Solutions, migrates user accounts and files to Google Drive and other Google Apps services. (website, blogpost)
  • Cloudsfer, by Tzunami, transfers files from Box, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive to Google Drive. (website)
  • Migrator for Google Apps, by Backupify, migrates and consolidates personal Google Drive or other Google Apps for Business accounts into a single domain. (website, blogpost)
  • Mover migrates data from 23 cloud services providers, web services, and databases into Google Drive. (website, blogpost)
  • Nava Certus, by LinkGard, provides a migration and synchronization solution for on-premise and cloud-based storage platforms, including Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3, as well as local file systems. (website, blogpost)
  • SkySync, by Portal Architects, integrates existing on-site storage systems as well as other cloud storage providers to Google Drive. (websiteblogpost)
These are just a few companies that offer migration solutions. Please visit the Google Apps Marketplace for a complete listing of tools and offerings that add value to the Google Apps platform.



Posted:


Editor's note: Businesses rely on email to communicate, and on Google to ensure that their email communication is secure. Today, we’re adding to our spam filtering support in Gmail to handle duplicitous “Unicode Homoglyphs.” This release strengthens our ongoing commitment to keeping our customers safe and protected from scams, phishing attacks and spammers.


Last week we announced support for non-Latin characters in Gmail — think δοκιμή.com and 测试@example.net and みんな — as a first step towards more global email. We’re really excited about these new capabilities. We also want to ensure they aren't abused by spammers or scammers trying to send misleading or harmful messages.

Scammers can exploit the fact that , , and ο look nearly identical to the letter o, and by mixing and matching them, they can hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Can you imagine the risk of clicking “ShppingSite” vs. “ShoppingSite” or “MyBank” vs. “MyBɑnk”?

To stay one step ahead of spammers, the Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting email with such combinations. We're using an open standard—the Unicode Consortium's “Highly Restricted” designation—which we believe strikes a healthy balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused.

We’re rolling out the changes today, and hope that others across the industry will follow suit. Together, we can help ensure that international domains continue to flourish, allowing both users and businesses to have a tête-à-tête in the language of their choosing.

Posted:


When we introduced Classroom back in May, we asked educators to give it a try. The response was exciting — more than 100,000 educators from more than 45 countries signed up for a preview. Today, we’re starting to open Classroom to all Google Apps for Education users, helping teachers spend more time teaching and less time shuffling papers.

One of the first schools to use Classroom was Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn, New York. Sister Rosemarie DeLoro, who has been teaching for more than 60 years, had never used computers with her students before Classroom was introduced at her school. Classroom made it easy for her to assign digital worksheets to students in her Italian class and provide direct feedback to help them learn. In fact, after just a few weeks, Sister Rosemarie was showing the other teachers how to use it. “You can’t stay in teaching and keep going to the old ways,” she said.

Teachers and students have been instrumental in helping us build Classroom. For example, we heard during the preview that educators don’t want to wait until an assignment is turned in to collaborate with students. Now, with Classroom, teachers can view and comment on students’ work to help them along the way. We’ve also heard that educators want a simple place to post information and materials about their classes, so we added an “About” page for each course, as well.
When teachers create assignments, they can attach files from Google Drive — including Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Keynote, Google Slides, Excel, Google Sheets, and many others — then choose to automatically make a copy for each student. 
Teachers can review assignments from Classroom and provide feedback and grades to students all in one place. 
Classroom is available in 42 languages (including right-to-left ones, such as Hebrew, Arabic and Persian). It also works well on mobile devices and most popular screen readers. We’ll be rolling out to more users every day, so if you go to classroom.google.com with your Apps for Education account and don’t have access yet, please check back soon.

Hopefully Classroom will help you spend a little less time at the photocopier and a little more time doing what you love—teaching.

Posted:


Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangouts from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work emails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today, we hear from Ben Darr, Product Development Manager at Thrillist Media Group, a digital media company based in New York that is responsible for men’s lifestyle brand Thrillist.com and popular online retailer JackThreads.

In the last four years, Thrillist Media Group (TMG) has gone from a small newsletter in a one-room office to a multi-propertied media group with more than 300 employees. We now operate within the realms of content, commerce, private label clothing, events, sales and proprietary tech platforms. We’ve worked hard to tie these unique industries together — a feat that requires high levels of communication between our offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio. Thrillist’s collaboration between employees would not be possible without Google Apps.

Thrillist’s employees are completely plugged into the Google ecosystem and the tools we need are mere clicks away and always available. What really sets the Google platform apart is the seamless integration and intuitive user experience. If you’ve ever used Gchat in the last few years, you know how to use Hangouts. If you can write an email, it’s a tiny skip to using a Google Doc. Being able to quickly switch between Apps without having to log in or learn how to use a new tool caters to our fast-pace environment and centralizes nearly all of our day-to-day files and communication.

Whether someone has a quick question or needs to express a more complex idea via Hangout or email, Google Apps is there to give our team what we need to finalize the designs and copy with the client. After approvals, we upload all files to Drive, which makes it easy for multiple departments across the company to refer to them throughout the campaign. On the product side, our quality assurance team can then cross reference final design specs to custom-built sales and make note of any issues or differences in Google Sheets. When the campaign is live, I review how the entire process was executed and use our product page on the Thrillist Google Site to recount best practices and we took away from the campaign.

Take, for example, this real-life scenario from a recent campaign: A client halfway across the country sponsored a custom sale on Jackthreads driving content on Thrillist and Supercompressor, two of our e-commerce properties. To start the process, our sales and design team held a kick-off meeting with the client via Google Hangouts to understand their vision and goals for the campaign. Throughout the meeting, everyone recorded ideas, guidelines and project timelines on one Google Doc. When the meeting ended, I shared the Doc with all the different TMG departments involved — other product members, photographers at our warehouse in Brooklyn, tech leads overseeing the build, sales reps communicating with the client and that lucky colleague on vacation at the beach.
As a relatively small company, our projects are largely collaborative and everyone is juggling a large workload — and the specific example above is just a single piece in the complex TMG puzzle. Google Apps is critical to the work we do everyday; while other companies offer these services separately, none offer all of them together in one seamless, easy-to-use system.

Posted:


Editor's note: Whether it’s taking a meeting over Hangouts from the airport before escaping to a much-deserved vacation or sending work e-mails from an air-conditioned neighborhood cafe, technology should help you get your work done faster so you can enjoy the summer months. To celebrate the season of sun, we’re sharing stories from customers who know all about the importance of technology when fostering a culture of mobility and flexibility. Today’s guest blogger is Amanda Bensol, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Karma, a New York-based startup building a sleek, portable pay-what-you-use WiFi hotspot.

Karma empowers people to work wherever they want with an elegantly designed personal portable hotspot. Our team spent years paying exorbitant hotspot data costs while traveling around the world and knew there had to be a better and cheaper way to get online at the many airports, hotels, cafes and trains that didn’t have public Internet access. We set out to solve the problem ourselves with an affordable mobile WiFi hotspot that allows people to work wherever, whenever they want. Karma isn’t just a hotspot — it’s a movement that lets people take back the power to use their data and technology how they want.

In order to introduce new ways of working, we hold monthly Karma Outdoors gatherings and invite people to come join us in working outside this summer. Like most people, we enjoy being able to work on our own terms. That’s why Google Apps has been part of our journey from the start. It’s not a stretch to say that Google Hangouts practically built Karma. After the company was started, visa issues caused the founders to return to Amsterdam, leaving me essentially in charge of U.S. operations. Hangouts was a lifeline that allowed us to build and grow the company, even though we were separated by an ocean.
In addition to Hangouts, Google Docs is essential to our business and our preferred way to innovate because it offers a better creative workflow than any other product. Our founders in Amsterdam exchange a lot of ideas with the company’s designers in New York as we prepare for our next-generation release of sleeker Karma models. Google Docs makes it possible for us to easily keep track of our design ideas. Docs is the place we quickly paste media to preserve of our thoughts on the fly. We refine ideas together by exchanging comments within our documents. I write down specific product specs in Docs, knowing our concepts are logged and stored for our design team to access from anywhere.

We’re only at the beginning of our journey to liberate people in their quest for mobile connectivity, and we’ve got a lot more in store for our products and company. We’re confident in our ability to achieve our goals and truly make an impact using Google Apps, which allows for mobility and flexibility in communications and productivity — values that align with our mission, too. Between Karma and Google Apps, together we’ll get people out from the confinement of cubicles and into the sun.


Posted:


Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Anthony Osborne, Vice President of Marketing for The Climate Corporation, which brings the power of data and technology to the agriculture industry with the ultimate mission of combating climate change. The Climate Corporation is one of many companies outfitting conference rooms with Chromebox for meetings. To learn more, join us for a live Hangout on Air to see how companies can modernize the meeting room and reimagine collaboration.
You might not associate farmers with technology from the Bay Area, but at The Climate Corporation, we’re dedicated to providing tools for farmers that help maximize their crop yields and use natural resources efficiently. We believe that innovation plays a vital role in their mission; we also apply this belief to improve the way our employees work.

Oftentimes, a culture of perpetual innovation means our days are filled back to back with meetings. With offices in San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Kansas City, coordinating meetings and catch-ups across time zones can pose a number of challenges. The San Francisco team typically gets to work at 9am but stays late; in St. Louis, we’re at work by 7am and out by 6pm. Until recently, most people worked late at the office and often missed out on quality time at home. We flew between our offices for meetings, which cost time and money. And when we weren’t traveling, we held meetings over the phone, which were typically less engaging and productive. We considered high-end video conferencing solutions, but the cost (over $70,000) limited how many conference rooms we could equip.

Then we discovered Chromebox for meetings. At a $999 starting price, we can afford to place Chromeboxes in conference rooms across all of our offices and bring our spread-out teams together throughout the day without the travel costs or conference call grievances. Now, it’s almost like our colleagues in San Francisco are in the same room with us in St. Louis. Our IT team loved the easy setup – all they had to do was plug in the display and complete the setup wizard. And our employees love the speed and simplicity of meetings.

Not only are Chromeboxes in our conference rooms, but some of us have them at home, too. In my case, I can spend some time with my kids, then jump onto a face-to-face meeting for a half-hour if I need to, all without being forced to stay in the office.

Today, 80% of our meetings are now held on Hangouts using Chromebox for meetings. Coupling our new way of collaboration with Google Apps—which we’ve already been using for work, in and out of the office—I’m amazed at how technology transforms our work day. Now that we’re collaborating more efficiently, we can do a much better job of creating products that help our customers monitor the impact of climate on their businesses.