Napera networks announced yesterday the availability of what appears to be the first systems management application in the Google Apps Marketplace.
Google Apps Marketplace was launched in March of this year and is exactly what the name implies - a place to buy and install apps that integrate directly with Google Apps. Most of the 45 offerings currently listed in the Security and Compliance category are related to email security. This makes sense since email is the most popular Google Apps product.
Napera's PC Security Informer is trailblazing as the first security management offering in the Google Apps Marketplace (there are of course plenty of competing cloud security management offerings like for example Shavlik PatchCloud).
Does buying security management from the Google Apps Marketplace make sense?
Luckily for Napera, the usual cloud security FUD will not hold much water with its potential Google Apps Marketplace customers. The small and medium sized businesses that are the target market for Napera's PC Security Informer have already moved big chunks of their infrastructure to the cloud. Since the data is already in the cloud, there is no reason that the security to protect that data shouldn't be in the cloud as well.
The bigger issue for most businesses will be business control, customization, privacy policies, and SLA's. Moving apps to a platform-as-a-service infrastructure is scary from a can-I-get-someone-on-the-phone-when-the-^%&$^-hits-the-fan perspective. And for applications deployed within Google Apps, there are multiple vendors to deal with. When you use a cloud-built-on-a-cloud service like Napera PC Security Informer, you are dependent on both Napera and Google for everything to run smoothly.
The litmus test for the success of any app in the Google Apps Marketplace is whether the integration advantages outweigh the lock-in. The biggest competition for Google Apps Marketplace security products will come from competing hosted solutions. With third party hosted solutions, what you lose in Google Apps integration might be gained back in control and peace of mind.
A challenge for Napera in driving adoption of the PC Security Informer is the nature of the Google Apps customer base. With 25 million users spread over 2 million businesses, the typical Google Apps customer is a ten-guys-working-virtually type of company. Those organizations are not in the market for systems management. Many of the larger companies using Google Apps are still dipping their toes in the water. Those companies are unlikely to realize much advantage in the tight integration with the rest of their Google Apps domain that is the main value added of the app approach.
I haven't used the product, but it would certainly be interesting to hear from someone who has. Which brings me to a plug for Security Scoreboard, the vendor review site for the security community. If you are a current customer of Napera Networks, please share your experiences on Security Scoreboard and help the rest of the community evaluate this vendor.