New Mind Group: Why We Chose Google Apps

It started in 2007: New Mind Group, purveyors of managed services to SMBs in the greater Kalamazoo, Mich. area, began to run into severe scalability issues with traditional Microsoft Exchange installations. As businesses grew, so did their computing needs, but they didn't have the money or facilities to grow proportionately. That's when New Mind Group decided to help blaze a trail now being followed by the city of Los Angeles and go to Google Apps.

Like many service provider organizations, New Mind Group, founded in the early part of this millennium, started out as a small outsourced IT department to local businesses. It was only in 2007, as e-mail and other web solutions became less novelty and more necessity for even the smallest businesses, that they began focusing on providing SaaS applications, says New Mind Group Founder and President Daniel Jefferies.

Partnering with Google in 2007 was somewhat of a gamble, Jefferies says, because Google Apps didn't yet offer things like Outlook integration of any kind. They hadn't even formally launched their partner program. It was worth it, he says, because Google Apps solved every scalability problem their clients had, no data centers required. Moreover, the fact that all these different SaaS applications had a single login was immensely appealing to end-customers. New Mind Group also offers "login federation" so that other SaaS applications they offer, like cloud storage (in Amazon S3 or Rackspace Cloud) or Salesforce, will use that same username and password.

Google hasn't let down Jefferies faith yet. Rather than wait years between full releases, Google constantly makes little tweaks and adds features on the fly: Jefferies calls this model "innovate and iterate," and it suits him down to the ground since it means that Google, and New Mind Group by extension, is far more nimble with the products and services it can offer. In fact, Jefferies believes that the current trend towards hybrid legacy/cloud solutions shows that people are starting to accept the Google SaaS model as the correct one.

Moreover, Jefferies says that Google treats its reseller partners as, well, partners, and not like numbers or line items on a spreadsheet, which only enhances New Mind Group's loyalty.

As for the future, Jefferies says that he'd really like to see a storage solution from the search giant. And, of course, he says he's looking forward to seeing what comes out of the Google Apps-Microsoft Office war of 2010 that's looming on the horizon. Google Apps is great, Jefferies says, but it's currently more of a complement to Office than a replacement. The recent DocVerse acquisition may change that, he says, since it would bring Google Apps directly to the desktop and into a more fully-featured interface.

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