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Sun 1 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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Google unveils online tools for smb firms

Google has launched a beta version of Google Apps for Your Domain (GAFYD) - a set of hosted online apps designed to help small and medium business teams manage and maintain their web presence.

The software suite is available free of charge and includes customisable versions of Gmail, Google Talk instant messenger and Google Calendar via a web-based interface that is tagged to a company’=s internet domain name. The new service also includes Google Page Creator for designing and publishing a website.

The GAFYD service works in the following way: domain administrators use a web-based control panel to manage their user account list, set-up aliases and distribution lists, and enable the services they want for their domain. Users then log into their account and simply browse to customise login pages. According to Google, the service scales easily to accommodate growing user bases and storage needs, whilst drastically reducing maintenance costs.

Key features of the standard edition include 2Gbytes of e-mail storage for each user, and help for administrators via e-mail or an online help center. Moreover, firms that sign-up during the beta period do not have to pay for users accepted during that period, according to Google.

“Organisations of all sizes face a common challenge of helping their users communicate and share information more effectively," stated Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, enterprise, at Google. “A hosted service such as Google Apps for Your Domain eliminates many of the expenses and hassles of maintaining a communications infrastructure, which is a welcome relief for many small business owners and IT staffers. Organisations can let Google be the experts in delivering high quality e-mail, messaging, and other web-based services while they focus on the needs of their users and their business.”

Over time the firm will also offer paid-for ‘Premium’ versions of GAFYD, targeted at families, community groups, non-profit organisations, small businesses and universities.

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