Google Apps partnerCloud Sherpas says it has already migrated dozens of companies (some 80,000 users) to Google’s package of online office applications. Now the Atlanta startup is looking to sell some products of its own, starting with a set of Google Apps-enhancing applications called SherpaTools.
Several of SherpaTools’ features revolve around company directories. There’s a Directory Manager that allows administrators to create and update rich profiles of everyone on the team. Employees can also use SherpaTools to access directory information using Gtalk, even from their mobile phones. SherpaTools includes another feature to make an IT administrator’s job easier: The ability to divide your users into different groups, then push changes to everyone in a specific group. For example, you could break up your workforce into East Coast and West Coast members, then change the time zone for all the East Coast accounts.
Founder and chief executive Michael Cohn said it was always part of his plan to start developing applications, but working as a Google Apps reseller and integrator helped Cloud Sherpas figure out the kinds of applications that customers wanted. SherpaTools goes live tomorrow and will be available for free. Cohn plans to start charging for premium features later this year. There are more products in the pipeline, he said.
It might seem a little risky to build all of your services and applications on one platform, especially one that’s as young and developing as quickly as Google Apps. Cohn noted that the company is Cloud Sherpas, “not Google Sherpas,” so he’s open to moving beyond Google Apps in the future. On the other hand, it seems like a good place to focus for now, because companies are more willing to move messaging and collaboration into the cloud, compared to, say, moving their infrastructure to Amazon.
Cohn also acknowledged that Google could eventually make parts of SherpaTools obsolete by adding features to Google Apps, like better support for corporate directories. But it’s not a feature yet, and if some SherpaTools features are short-lived, that’s okay, he said.
“It’s up to us to find things and find areas that are unique and niche and things that Google won’t necessarily roll out to everybody,” Cohn added.
Cloud Sherpas has raised about $170,000 in angel funding.