We made a commitment last year to increase transparency and communication with Google Apps customers in several ways. We heard your feedback around the need for better communication when issues like yesterday's Gmail outage occur.

As part of that commitment, we're pleased to announce today the availability of the Google Apps Status Dashboard. Customers can use this Status Dashboard to check on the current service status of individual services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Video for business. Administrators of Google Apps for their businesses, schools and organizations can also view the performance of the administrative control panel.

The Google Apps Status Dashboard represents an additional layer of transparency that we believe will be particularly useful for our business users, and it's also relevant to users of our consumer products. The Status Dashboard is the best place to check for information on service availability for Google Apps anywhere in the world. In my role on the sales team, I regularly talk with customers to make sure that they're getting the most out of Google Apps and I think that you will find this tool indispensable in managing your Google Apps deployment.

Additionally, here are other resources I often recommend to help account administrators get up and running quickly and smoothly and also to stay on top of new functionality:

Google Apps Help Center. Our Help Center for Google Apps admins can answer questions on "getting started" and also help you troubleshoot or find out the status about known issues. Topics include everything from email routing to data migration. We update the information in the Help Center regularly so it's a good starting point for any questions you encounter as you setup and manage your Google Apps account.

Google Apps Help Forum
. In addition to our own online support resources (see below), we have a vibrant community of Google Apps administrators who are always willing to lend a helping hand. To read tips and get help from your peers, join this discussion board for IT admins. This forum is moderated by Google Apps Advisors and fueled by the knowledge of expert Power Posters. Recent questions answered in the Help Forum include ones on IMAP functionality and MX record settings.

Google Apps update alerts
. Whenever we launch improvements to any of the apps or add new administrative capabilities – whether it's a minor user interface tweak or the release of major new functionality
we publish a summary with usage instructions and links where you can find more details. For example, we recently shared information on new capabilities for administrators to authorize who can upload videos to Google Video for business and instructions for setting password strength requirements. You can automatically get this information either as email alerts to your inbox, or you can subscribe to the RSS feed.

Google Apps Channel on YouTube
Here you can find product tutorials and overviews, as well as video testimonials from Google Apps customers and recordings of Google Apps-related talks and webinars. We recently posted a tour of a corporate intranet built by one of our customers and created a Google Apps Learning Center playlist to educate end users on topics such as "Webmail vs. Desktop," "Archiving or Deleting" in Gmail, for example. Take a look at the videos we've created.

The Solutions Marketplace.
If you know that Google Apps is right for you but need some extra help, visit the Solutions Marketplace to find details about products and services from vendors whose solutions integrate and extend Google Apps. You can find vendors to help you with setup and deployment, data migration, integration with existing IT systems, user training and more. You can see how vendors have been rated by other customers and also read about customer experiences with partners.

I hope that this information helps you get the most out of Google Apps. One of the great things about Google Apps is the community that has grown up around it, thanks to you!

Posted by Tessa Prescott, Google Apps Sales Team