Seven independent software vendors have formed a consortium to integrate their Google Apps add-on products and offer discounted bundles, outside of Google's control.
They call themselves the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps, and their goal is to set their wares above the Google Apps Marketplace ruckus and sell via their own website. Google now claims some 4 million Google Apps business customers and an app store of add-ons that reached 300 choices in March.
The inaugural members of the Cloud Alliance are:
• Cloud Sherpas, which makes the administration and policy management SherpaTools application.
• Expensify, which makes expense reports "that don't suck," as it describes its tool.
• Insightly, which makes a customer management app.
• Okta, which offers an identity and access management service.
• RunMyProcess, which offers a platform as a service (PaaS) that allows users to design and run business processes integrated with Google Apps.
• SmartSheet, which makes online project management and collaboration tools.
• Spanning, which makes the Spanning Backup tool for continuous backup and restore of Google Apps data.
Alliance members will not only bundle their apps together to offer discounts, but will be technically integrating them so that features of one can be accessed by others. The details of how that integration will be accomplished have yet to be worked out, says David Politis, vice president at Cloud Sherpas and chairman of the Cloud Alliance.
However, the plan is to offer these integrated apps through the Cloud Alliance website, which is independent from Google and its Google Apps Marketplace. "We hope to see bundles launching with different members within the Alliance, and the plan is to offer those bundles exclusively to customers who register through the Alliance website. It will be more cost-effective to purchase one of these bundles than to buy from each individually," Politis says.
The Alliance expects to add new members to its consortium once it works out the details of how it will make its apps work together, what customers want and how much they are willing to pay. Politis doesn't expect the Alliance to be open to new members until February 2012.
Google, while informed of the plan, is not involved. "The Alliance was formed to complement the Google Apps ecosystem and to primarily serve the Google Apps admin and the end-user community. We had spoken to Google about the Alliance initiative prior to launch, but they were not directly involved in the creation or oversight. To maintain that focus on the admin and end user, all Cloud Alliance activities will be executed independently of Google," says Politis.