To make its products more appealing to larger enterprise customers, Google is introducing a Scheduled Release option to Google Apps, which will add a delay to new feature releases that allows time for administrators to use a test domain to explore changes, educate support staff and communicate new info to their users.
One of the great things about web apps is that developers can deliver the latest updates to a product as soon as they’re ready. Unlike with traditional desktop software, users don’t have to wait for the next version of an app to get their hands on new features. However, these rapid release cycles can mean the product can change with little or no warning, which can be hard to manage in larger organizations, where complex systems or processes may be significantly affected by small, individual changes. Scheduled releases in Google Apps should allow organizations to plan for feature rollouts with more certainty.
Scheduled release will be used for all new features for Gmail, Contacts, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites in the future. With the new system, admins can choose between two options in the Google Apps control panel:
- Rapid Release. Customers on the Rapid Release track have access to new features as soon as the features have completed testing and quality assurance,
- Scheduled Release. Customers on the Scheduled Release track gain access to new features on a regular, weekly release schedule following the initial release of those features. New features will be released on the Scheduled Release track each Tuesday, with at least one week’s notice following the initial feature launch.
Customers who previously had “pre-release features” enabled in the Google Apps control panel will be placed on the Rapid Release track, and all others will be placed on the Scheduled Release track. Google expects many SMBs to choose the Rapid Release track, while the Scheduled Release option will appeal to its larger customers with more complex IT environments.
To support the new scheduled release process, Google has also launched a “What’s New?” portal, which will contain information about recent and upcoming releases, as well as training information.