What's bad about it: Google Apps lacks much of the rich functionality found in Microsoft Office. Online documents lack sophisticated features, Creese writes. For example, Docs lacks a grammar checker and the presentation creator will not embed charts or spreadsheets, he writes.
"Workers can synchronously collaborate on basic documents within the service, but they cannot synchronously collaborate on more complex documents, which for some departments (e.g., a marketing department creating sophisticated presentations) may be a deal killer," he writes.
Further problems include:
* Incomplete records management capabilities. "Although Google aims to store hundreds of gigabytes of information for enterprises at Google facilities, it does not offer an easy-to-use, automated method for enterprises to regularly delete such documents, issue a legal hold for specific documents, or bring copies of documents into the corporation," Creese writes.
* Google does not offer the enterprise-grade support that customers of IBM and Microsoft are accustomed to. 24/7 telephone support is only available for Google customers who pay extra fees to Capgemini.
* Gmail and Google Apps users have suffered downtime on 13 occasions since 2007, including seven times between February 2009 and January 2010, according to the Burton Group. Google's 99.9% uptime guarantee provides service credits, but does not reimburse companies for revenue lost during outages.
Security: Data safety may be the most common concern businesses have about shifting office applications to Google and other cloud vendors. But Google is making efforts to assure customers that their data is safe.
Google has received certification under the SAS 70 auditing standard, which is designed to show that service providers use sufficient processes to control access to data. Google is also in the process of complying with the Federal Information Security Management Act, which lays out minimum standards for IT security.
Google has various physical building and data security mechanisms in place, and automated failover capabilities to prevent downtime and loss of data when individual machines and data centers fail.
Google is preparing a government cloud to meet the specialized needs of public agencies, but meeting the data requirements of the financial industry, healthcare and other highly specialized fields is still a work in progress.
"We're working with those organizations and businesses to understand those requirements and provide the best possible solutions we can," says Google Apps product manager Anil Sabharwal.