February 24, 2011

Google Apps Certification Program

Google has created a mechanism for endorsing its resellers of Google Apps products.  Adoption of Google Apps is accelerating around the world with over 3 million businesses that have gone Google. Google Apps Authorized Resellers play a critical role in helping businesses get started. As our partner community has more than doubled in the last year to over 2,500 partners in over 70 countries, partners have been seeking opportunities to demonstrate their expertise and competence to a growing customer base.

We are therefore happy to announce the Google Apps Certification Program, which recognizes IT professionals for demonstrated abilities to sell, deploy, develop, and support Google Apps. Available today globally, is the first of these certifications, the Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist, which certifies IT professionals who have demonstrated the fundamental knowledge and skills required to migrate to, configure, and deploy Google Apps.

“As we continue to build out our global Google Apps practice, it is essential for us to differentiate ourselves and to gain recognition for the great depth of Apps expertise we have developed with so many customers. The Google Apps Certification Program will help generate new client interest by highlighting our commitment to offering the highest-value consulting services to the market," explains Jon Hallett, CEO of Cloud Sherpas, a Google Apps Authorized Reseller.

Like Google Apps, this certification is 100% web – any IT professional with a browser and an Internet connection can register to take the online proctored exam. It is available in English now, and will soon be available in additional languages. To learn more, go to certification.googleapps.com.

Source: Google Enterprise Blog

February 14, 2011

Intensifying Search Competition : Microsoft Bing, Google Battle

Any doubts about Microsoft’s seriousness in its online efforts should have been dispelled this week, after the company lashed back at Google’s accusations that Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, copies its Web-search results.  

“I didn’t expect that Microsoft would deny the claims so strongly,” Google Principal Engineer Matt Cutts wrote in a Feb. 3 posting on his personal blog. “One comment that I’ve heard is that ‘it’s whiny for Google to complain about this.’ I agree that’s a risk, but at the same time I think it’s important to go on the record about this.”

The tussle began Feb. 1, when the blog Search Engine Land published details of what it called Google’s “sting operation” against Bing. Google executives claim they grew suspicious of how closely Bing’s search results mirrored their own, and, after finding terms with no matches on either search engine, created “honey pot” pages that appeared on the top of search results for those terms. When a small portion of Bing search results seemed to mirror Google’s forced pages, the latter began leveling accusations.

“To me, what the experiment proved was that clicks on Google are being incorporated in Bing’s rankings,” Cutts wrote in his blog. “Microsoft is best company to answer the degree to which clicks on Google figure into their Bing’s rankings, and I hope they clarify how much of an impact clicks on Google affect Microsoft’s rankings.”

Microsoft claims that Bing is merely leveraging data fed by users of Bing Bar and similar applications. “In simple terms, Google’s ‘experiment’ was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack known as ‘click fraud,’” Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft’s online services division, wrote in a Feb. 2 posting on the Bing Community blog. “As we have said before and again in this post, we use clickstream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.”

Mehdi also seemed intent on stirring the already-roiled waters a bit more. “In October 2010, we released a series of big, noticeable improvements to Bing’s relevance. So big and noticeable that we are told Google took notice and began to worry,” he wrote. “Then, a short time later, here come the honey-pot attacks. Is the timing purely coincidence? Are industry discussions about search quality to be ignored? Is this simply a response to the fact that some people in the industry are beginning to ask whether Bing is as good or in some cases better than Google on core Web relevance?”

Bing has made slow but steady gains since its summer 2009 launch, but its 12 percent U.S. market share (as of December, according to research firm comScore) does not present an existential threat to Google’s 66.6 percent. Bing also powers back-end search for Yahoo, whose share stood at 16 percent. Even if you combine its share into Bing’s, however, the audience for Microsoft’s search engine remains half that of Google.

“I don’t know how old I will be when that’ll happen,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told an audience in March 2010, during the Search Marketing Expo in Santa Clara, Calif., when asked if and when Bing would overtake Google in search.

Whatever the future holds, Microsoft seems determined to spend whatever it takes to keep Bing viable. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company’s Online Services Division suffered operating losses of $543 million, a significant downtick from the $463 million burnt during the same quarter in 2009. That contributes to total losses of $1.1 billion for the second half of 2010.

Microsoft also has yet to see substantial profits from cloud-based initiatives such as Azure. Over the next few quarters, the company will release cloud-based products, including Office 365, designed to fit a variety of business needs—and counter Google’s aggressive push into that area with offerings such as Google Apps.

Given Microsoft’s intensifying focus on online services and the cloud, and Google’s continued presence in those areas, a little verbal back-and-forth between the two companies’ executives is only to be expected. The vitriol of this latest salvo, though, hints at just how much both Microsoft and Google have riding on their respective properties.

Source: eWeek

February 12, 2011

Simplify wedding planning

Explore how Google’s free tools can help you save time, stay organized and have fun while planning your big day.

Google has launched Google.com/weddings, an online platform that aims to help people in planning their weddings. According to Google, the company has created wedding-specific templates in Google Sites, Google Docs and Picnik, and gathered tips and tricks for using these and other Google products at Google.com/weddings. The platform also helps users to create their wedding websites.

Share your story and event details with an easy to create website. Choose the style that fits your theme or venue, then edit your website with ease.

Use Picnik’s photo editing tools to create photos that are simply perfect. Then use them to create announcements, save the date cards and more.

Save time by collaborating with your bridal party on guest lists, schedules, addresses, and more. Access and edit your planning documents from the bridal shop, bakery or pretty much anywhere.

Create an online photo album to share your engagement and wedding pictures, or gather photos of floral arrangements, dresses and other inspirations.

Enter for a chance to win $25,000 towards your dream wedding designed by Michelle Rago.
See Official Rules.