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Google Apps’ largest reseller, Cloud Sherpas,  has a few announcements of its own on the eve of Google’s I/O 2001 conference this week โ€“ enhancements to its SherpaTools Collaboration Pack that enables more granular granting of various administrative rights to help those internal IT administrators delegate more without giving away too much control.

Cloud Sherpas will be demonstrating the new technology at Google I/O in San Francisco this week, the biggest conference for Google’s partners.

Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas, founded by traditional VARs who wanted to create a company to resell Google Apps, originally created its own line of tools over the course of migrating customers from other solutions to Google Apps. Customers wanted certain functionality, such as shared organizational contacts, that Google Apps didn’t provide. The Sherpa Tools are designed to fill in the IT administration and productivity gaps in Google Apps.  

SherpaTools is offered in two versions, the Base Camp free version and Collaboration Pack at $4 per user per year for business and government and $1 per user per year for education and non-profits. Cloud Sherpas SherpaTools have been installed by more than 16,000 domains representing three million Google Apps users around the world.  (Collaboration Pack is also offered free-of-charge if the end-user company transfers its Google domain management to Cloud Sherpas. The price of Google Apps is the same to end customers -$50 per year — and end customers get the paid-version of Collaboration Pack for free.)

Previous enhancements to SherpaTools focused on adding functionality to the free version of the cloud-based product. But this time around, Cloud Sherpas focused on improving the paid version, Collaboration Pack, Mark Wood, vice president of product development at Cloud Sherpas told Channel Insider.

Enhancements to SherpaTools includes the following:

  • Constituencies โ€“ Cloud Sherpas has added the concept of constituencies to SherpaTools which enable help desk workers with partial admin responsibilities to be restricted to helping users within their constituent bases only. Cloud Sherpas says this is a critical security measure for larger organizations, and consistently one of the most requested enhancements to Google Apps admin capabilities.  
  • Instant Seat Purchase โ€“ In the past, organizations that got their Google Apps licenses from a Google Apps reseller often had to wait for the reseller to process the license request. Now Cloud Sherpas has automated that process, enabling end-customer companies to instantly purchase additional end-user licenses online.  

In addition, Cloud Sherpas has extended support for SherpaTools to the free version of Google Apps (previously known as Google Apps Standard Edition), giving those Google Apps users access to SherpaTools such as shared contacts.

"This will open up a whole new channel of awareness with us within Google Apps," Wood told Channel Insider. And many of the users who install this free version of SherpaTools on top of their free version of Google Apps will eventually graduate to become paying customers, he added.  "Anybody can install it and use it."