With the IT industry enthusiastic about smaller machines with bigger capabilities and with the prospect of cloud computing fast becoming a reality, demand for remotely hosted reliable services is on the rise. For the past few years, Google Apps has offered a realistic alternative to Microsoft and having achieved 99.98% uptime in the second quarter of 2011, Google Apps offers not only lower prices than Microsoft, but also a more reliable service.Rather than just competing with Microsoft on product performance and price, Google has also made itself attractive to rural telcos and small ISPs with a host of other products and services. These enable smaller businesses to offer their customers high specification and value-for-money services. Some of the services available on Google Apps allow small ISPs and rural telcos to provide their customers with email through their own unique and corporate-branded domain, as well as apps to replace traditional office suites, such as Google Docs, Talk, Sites and Voice.
Small companies are often not able to work directly with Google, which is why the market for Google Apps resellers is one of the fastest-growing investment opportunities. A major reseller in the US is NeoNova, which has migrated 13 independent telco customers to Google Apps in 2011 and a total of 27 since they started selling Google products in 2010. Ikano Communications and Integrated Broadband Services LLC have also enjoyed great success by providing added-value services to clients through Google Apps.
These successes have been attributed to a set of market trends that give distinct advantages to small and rural telcos and ISP companies. Given a global trend in increasing broadband connectivity for rural areas and the proposition from the UN to make internet access a human right, Google Apps that offer free web-based applications have become a profitable niche market.With the growth of the cloud-computing phenomenon, broadband providers are able to offer more innovative applications, which in turn can help them increase their revenues while also streamlining their operations. There is also a growing international demand for Google Apps, with over 30-million users currently favouring Google for their messaging and document-sharing tools. As the services are web based, apps are constantly updated, with new releases being put out every fortnight.
Google and More
For customers of Google Apps resellers, migrating to the cloud can offer more than just Google. For NeoNova customers, extended features include NovaSubscriber for account management, NovaSupport for top-quality customer support and NovaDesk for a 24-hour helpdesk solution. The company also offers security products and services and a whole host of network-management products which allow customers to manage, analyse and report on network traffic.For rural telecoms companies, the next few years are going to be vital, as they look to retain their customers and add value to their subscribers’ services. For end users, whether they connect through a wireless network, dongle or wired broadband, the expectation is for not just high-speed broadband but for the same level of service as they would receive with the larger providers. Companies already using the Google Apps platform believe that this format enables them to provide their customers in rural locations with the same high level of services as urban users would enjoy, without the need for added investment in infrastructure.
All Sewn Up?
With the many advantages of using Google Apps and nothing of comparative quality and price being offered by Microsoft, it seems the small telcos and rural ISP markets could be rapidly sewn up. As broadband extends into more and more rural locations worldwide, many users will sign up for these applications as their main platforms, whether connecting with a mobile dongle or home-broadband service. However, as cloud computing really comes to the fore over the next few years, more software companies will bring out competitive products. Google will need to keep up with the changes to stay in the game.