Google Apps Gets User Policy Management Controls

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

Google follows up recently added security controls for Google Mobile Apps with user policy management settings allowing administrators to determine which applications employees can use.

Following an announcement July 13 regarding the addition of mobile device management options for Google Mobile Apps administrators, including a requirement for devices to use data encryption, search giant Google introduced what it said is "one of the most highly requested features from administrators: user policy management."

This means "administrators can segment their users into organizational units and control which applications are enabled or disabled for each group," Google Apps Product Manager Adam Dawes explained in a July 20 blog post.

Dawes noted, "Organizations can also use this functionality to test applications with pilot users before making them more widely available."

"Using the new user policy management feature in Google Apps, we're able to test out new applications like Google Wave with a subset of users to decide how we should roll out new functionality more broadly," said Sheri Stahler, Temple University's associate vice president for computer services.

"The ability to toggle services on or off for groups of users could also help customers transition to Google Apps from [on-premises] environments. For example," Dawes pointed out, "a business can enable just the collaboration tools like Google Docs and Google sites for users who haven't yet moved off old [on-premises] messaging solutions. Administrators can manage these settings on the 'Organizations & users' tab in the 'Next generation' control panel. Alternatively, organizations can mirror their existing LDAP organizational schema using Google Apps Directory Sync or programmatically assign users to organizational units using the Google Apps Provisioning API."

In another example of how user policy management features can be used, Dawes suggested, "a manufacturing firm might want to give their office workers access to Google Talk, but not their production line employees. Mayooran Rajan, CTO of Revevol Consulting, noted, 'We work with businesses with 100 to 20,000 employees moving from [on-premises] solutions to Google Apps. The new user policy management feature helps us tailor Google Apps and provide businesses with granular control for each department within their company."