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Google triples enterprise headcount in seven months

Google Australia's enterprise division has tripled its headcount in a little over seven months as the IT giant continues its push into big business.

With a recent upgrade of the division's Google Apps productivity suite, that involved a considerable amount of development work by the company's Sydney-based engineering workforce, Asia-Pacific enterprise managing director, Doug Farber, said additional headcount would be needed.

"Since I joined recently we've tripled the team and experienced explosive growth," Farber, who joined the company in September last year, said. "It has followed this whole continuum around the consumerisation of IT."

The company now has roughly 1000 employees in Sydney, of which 10 percent are in the enterprise division. Globally, Google grew its staff to 20,621 full-time employees from 19,835 full-time employees during the first quarter of 2010.

Farber puts the domestic result down to the increasing acceptance of consumer IT in the workplace and the adoption of cloud computing.

"I am the same person at work as I am at home so why can't I have the same experience with my applications at work?" Farber asked.

The company's global enterprise division recently hosted several hundred CIOs at its headquarters, where it released the enhancements to its Docs office suite, including a revamped code base.

Docs, a free, Web-hosted office productivity suite, is available as a standalone product and also as part of the broader Google Apps collaboration and communications suite.

In March, Google also unveiled an online store where users can buy cloud-based applications designed to work with Google's own apps.

(Read more about the changes to Google Docs)

While Google touts the collaboration capabilities that its software-as-a-service model gives Docs, the office suite is yet to really challenge Microsoft Office in big business, with many traditional corporations maintaining a perception of Google as too consumer-focussed.

However, Faber pointed to big end of town customers such as New Zealand Postal Services, AAPT and Mortage Choice, along with a trial by HBOS, as signs the company is in a late stage early adoption, heading towards mainstream with several markets presenting opportunities to dispel this perception.

"There are several and it is the classic adoption curve. Telco looks like a fantastic opportunity for us," he said. "We have AAPT and bunch of other organisations we are working with across Asia-Pacific and the US. That has fantastic potential for us. We are getting to the front end of the adoption curve with CIOs that are enlightened.

"We closed a deal in Singapore with AIA for example where we migrated 4200 users to Google Apps in 22 days. That is a great financial services beachhead and we will continue to build on those proof points.

"It is a little opportunistic on our side at the moment but that is how search started out and how a lot of the Google products evolve."

By nature of its web-based product set, Google is clearly a strong promoter of cloud computing adoption. But while there are persistent concerns held by Australian organisations over security and location of data in the cloud Google continues to avoid directly discussing its domestic data centre strategy.

However, it told Computerworld Australia it replicates data across multiple data centres and tells clients they should be replicating it in many locations to fully grasp the benefits of cloud computing.

And it is a message that appears to be winning over many universities and educational institutions. In recent times, Google has been in pitched battle with rival Microsoft to secure lucrative contracts in the education space.

So far Google has moved five universities across to its Google Apps for Education offering, including Monash University, University of Adelaide, University of Southern Queensland, University of Western Australia and Macquarie.

In 2007, it also landed a contract with the NSW Department of Education and Training to support 1.3 million school students with Gmail.

In contrast, in December last year, Edith Cowan University became the 13th university in Australia to move across to Microsoft's Live@edu platform.

Google's global revenue hit US$6.77 billion in the quarter, ended 31 March, up 23 percent compared to the same quarter in 2009. It counts 25 million users and 2 million businesses as among those now using Goolge Apps.