Google Apps reseller Cloud Sherpas is announcing some updates to SherpaTools, a companion product for Google Apps (s goog) that provides additional functionality for domain admins, such as user and contact management, and email policies. The new features are being announced ahead of the Google I/O developer event happening this week, and should make SherpaTools an attractive option for larger organizations looking to switch to Google Apps that need more robust functionality for their IT admins than is provided as standard.
The most significant change is an update to its delegation features, providing greater control over permissions. SherpaTools’ delegation feature allows admins to domain administrators to delegate certain administrative responsibilities to specific users, without having to grant overall admin rights. By introducing the idea of “constituents,” SherpaTools gives admins the ability to delegate specific users with rights to act for a group of users. For example, an admin could grant a specific user the ability to reset passwords for sales personnel only, and also grant the same privilege to different users, but for the Engineering department only. SherpaTools isn’t the only admin tool available for Google Apps that provides permissions delegation features — competitors include Promevo’s gPanel and LTech’s Power Panel — but it’s currently the only one that provides these constituent-based controls; they should prove particularly useful in reducing IT support overhead in larger enterprises.
Additionally, the product now supports the free version of Google Apps, and also features “Instant Seat Purchase,” which enables users to upgrade their account at any time. Generally, when a company purchases Google Apps through a reseller and wants to provision a new user but has already reached the number of licenses available on its account, an admin will need to call or email the reseller to get them to upgrade their account. With this feature, admins can provision users immediately and be billed though their Cloud Sherpas account.
Delegation and Instant Seat Purchase are only available in the premium edition of Sherpa Tools (the “Collaboration Pack”), which can be purchased as a standalone product for $4 per user per year, or $1 per user per year for non-profits. It’s free for customers who purchase Google Apps through Cloud Sherpas.