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So thousands of companies have gone with the cloud. More than 2 million of them according to the google blog. Why? It kills the the mission of purchasing, installing and maintaining hardware and software themselves.

They say that once businesses experience the benefits of the cloud they want more. Will they offer an expanded choice of business apps? Things like accounting and project management to travel planning and human resources management. Theyā€™re not going to do it all, they donā€™t have the expertise in some of these areaā€™s.

Software providers who have embraced the cloud can provide loads of features that will power nearly every business. But more often than not, customers who make use of these apps from a variety of vendours end up with a fractured experience. They end up having to create multiple accounts, copy and paste data between apps and hop from interface to interface to handle a pretty simple task because these apps exist in their own silos. This can prove pretty bloody frustrating for even the most savvy of tech user.

Yesterday, Google decided to make it easier for these users and software providers to do business in the cloud by introducing a new online store for integrated business applications. The Google Apps Marketplace allows Google Apps customers to easily find, make use of, and manage cloud applications that integrate with Google Apps. More than 50 companies are now selling applications across a range of businesses, including: (this straight from the blog)

Intuit Online Payroll: A small business application that offers business owners a new way to efficiently run payroll, pay taxes and let employees check paystubs all within one integrated online office environment.

Manymoon: The companyā€™s free work and project management application for Google Apps makes it simple for businesses and teams to organize and share information including tasks, projects, documents, status updates and links with co-workers, customers and partners.

Professional Services Connect (PS Connect): This new cloud-based offering coming soon from Appirio, pulls contextually relevant information on people, projects, customers and transactions from a userā€™s domain and surfaces it directly inside a Gmail message so services professionals can make more informed, real-time decisions.

JIRA Studio: A hosted software development suite from AtlassianĀ enables software developers to flow naturally between Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and other design and development tools in order to better track and manage project issues and workflow.

Once installed to a companies server, these 3rd party apps will work like native Google apps. With administrator approval, they will interact with calendar, email, document and/or contact data to increase productivity. Administrators can manage the applications from the Google Apps control panel, and employees can open them from within Google Apps. OpenID integration allows Google Apps users to access the other applications without signing into them separately. The Google Apps Marketplace kills the hassles of software updates, keeping track of passwords, and syncing and sharing of data. So it increase productivity and keeps employees out of the IT admin persons office and just makes everybody a little more relaxed.Power to the cloud.

One day the bandwidth in South Africa will be sweet enough(not cost an arm and a leg) for us to do business like this. When that day will come nobody other than our service providers know, but I hope and pray that the day arrives sooner rather than later because the productivity applications that come with cloud computing are endless.

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