I use Google Apps a lot, expecially Google Docs. This book offers more than just a “How-To” look at Google Apps; it gives the reader an idea of the potential of “cloud computing” — using applications stored on someone else’s computer, using their computing power. When you think about it, it almost sounds like a step back in time, back to when school computer labs consisted of individual terminals connected to the mainframe. The terminals did nothing on their own, and weren’t powerful on their own. But when connected to the mainframe, they could do a lot.
Advocates of cloud computing see a time where home computers are very inexpensive, with limited local storage. Operating systems could become as simple as a web browser (see the new Palm Pre for an example of this on a smaller scale). All software would be stored on someone elses machine; you’d access it by logging into your account with that company. I’m not sure something like this would become an industry standard, though the proliferation of netbooks certainly makes me think that the market for cloud computing applications and services is growing right now.
Conner’s book is an outstanding resource for people who use Google Apps. There’s a lot of “meat” in the book, and I read a lot that gave me some ideas of my own. Google’s application suite is flexible, and the potential is huge. The potential for savings, especially for non-profits, is tremendous. But the documentation that Google offers is limited. That’s why this book is such a valuable resource, whether you’re a novice logging in to Gmail for the first time or an experienced user who is looking to take it to the next level.