In a move that could prove unpopular with IT administrators, Google has granted rights to end users of its Apps workplace email and collaboration suite to install third-party software from the company's Google Apps Marketplace.
Until now, only administrators were authorized to add tools from the Marketplace to their Apps domains. Not anymore.
"If you work at an organization that uses Google Apps for Work, Google Apps for Education or Google Apps for Government, you now have greater access to apps that help you work faster, more efficiently and collaboratively," wrote Chris Han, Google Apps Marketplace product manager, in a blog post Wednesday.
Apps admins who want to retain some control can hand-pick which applications they want to make available to their end users, essentially white-listing a portion of the Marketplace's catalogue. Admins also have the option of disabling entirely their end users' ability to install apps from the Marketplace, or conversely, allowing them to install any of the apps, according to Google.
According to Han, there are "hundreds" of third-party applications in the Apps Marketplace, which is more than an e-commerce storefront because it has a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) the developers can use to integrate their cloud applications with the Apps suite in various ways, including single sign-on and fused user interface navigation.
Launched in March 2010, the Apps Marketplace is intended to provide complementary third-party applications for Apps in areas such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), project management, security, regulatory compliance and accounting.
Six months after the launch, a Google official told IDG News Service that the Marketplace's catalog had grown from an initial set of 50 to 200, which he considered good progress but not anywhere near the company's long-term expectations. "If you look at our goal, it's lofty: to get all the best business cloud apps to work with us and be in the Marketplace," said Scott McMullan, who was then the Google Apps partner lead.
To spur adoption and increase visibility of the Marketplace apps, Google started surfacing the products in the Apps admin console in November of last year. Prior to that, Apps admins' only option to find and fetch the applications was to go to the Marketplace's website.
Wednesday's move also seems aimed at increasing adoption of the Marketplace's apps. It's not clear exactly how many applications there are in the Marketplace now or whether Google has met its goal in terms of app volume.
One group of users that isn't allowed to install Apps Marketplace applications by default is those in Apps for Education domains for K-12 schools.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.