Network World has an interesting interview with Rajen Sheth (“Meet the father of Google Apps [who used to work at Microsoft]”) which describes how Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) came to be. Confirming my suspicions, the product did not come out of a desire to meet enterprise e-mail requirements; instead, it was pitched as a reuse of a consumer product Google already had. (Initially, the thought was Gmail for the enterprise would be delivered as an appliance, similar to the Google Search Appliance.)
This simple re-badging explains many of the early product holes, such as the lack of nested distribution lists, no records management, no e-mail or calendar delegation, and so on. Just looking at the product, you knew it had to be, “Let’s take Google Apps, slap an enterprise name on it, and we’ll have an enterprise e-mail system,” but I’d never seen written confirmation of that scenario.
The story also included an interesting quote: "What we’ve focused on is how do we make the Docs suite better, such that more people can use that as their primary office productivity tool." It’s interesting because last year Google refused to participate in my productivity suite quadrant report, saying that it wasn’t a productivity suite but rather a collaboration solution. I’m glad to see Google finally agrees with what I was saying eighteen months ago, when I included it in my report of non-Microsoft productivity suites (“Productivity Suite Proliferation: Is It Time to Ditch Microsoft Office?”).