Enterprise Use Of Facebook, Google Apps Soars

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Facebook, Twitter, and most Google applications are being heavily used within enterprise organisations, a survey has found

Despite ongoing security concerns, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are being used in enterprises to a great degree, with 22 Google applications also showing particularly strong usage, according to research from a network security firm.

Palo Alto Networks surveyed the use of 750 applications across 347 organisations for its fifth Application Usage and Risk Report, released 30 March. The company’s firewall appliances and software monitored the use of web apps for the volunteering companies from September 2009 through March 2010.

Social networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter and collaboration and productivity apps such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar were used with great frequency at businesses around the world, including companies in heavily regulated industries such as health care and financial services.

Some of the stats are eye-popping. The bandwidth consumed per organisation by social networking applications doubled from 18 months ago to 9GB in this new report, with Facebook consuming an amazing 5GB of these companies’ bandwidth totals.

Social network apps such as Facebook are used frequently by sales and marketing teams to close deals, Chris King, director of product marketing for Palo Alto Networks, told eWEEK. But Facebook, which has more than 400 million users, isn’t the only beneficiary of increased use.

King said network bandwidth and the number of network sessions continue to rise for most apps, noting that “more people are using these apps more often.” For example, the 22 Google applications identified by Palo Alto showed consistent usage, with Google Docs and Google Calendar showing increases in session and bandwidth consumption.

“The Google stuff is really sticky,” King said. “Docs and Calendar are extremely well-used.”

Google Analytics was used in 95 percent of the companies surveyed, followed closely by Gmail at 92 percent. Gmail Chat was used in 78 percent of organisations. Use of the Google Talk Gadget jumped 56 percent, while Google Talk dropped 76 percent.

While this seems counterintuitive at first, King attributed this rise and fall to the fact that many users with a Google account access Google Talk from the gadget they install on their iGoogle personalised home pages. “People are moving away from the Google Talk hard client and toward the gadget,” he said.

Google Wave, the real-time collaboration platform used by more than 1 million people, was found in 10 percent of the participating companies. Google plans to place a greater emphasis on luring enterprise users to Wave in 2010.

Bandwidth consumed by SharePoint and LinkedIn is up 14 percent and 48 percent, respectively. No surprise there. SharePoint is a $1 billion (£668 million)-per-year business for Microsoft, while LinkedIn is still the leading business social network over Facebook.

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