Google Apps government reach grows
Some federal agencies, Los Angeles make the move to the cloud
Google is making inroads into federal and state government markets with its cloud-based suite of software applications, Google Apps. The company’s software allows organizations to operate services such as e-mail and office productivity tools without relying on legacy hardware and software.
The interest in Google Apps has increased since it earned a Federal Information Securitiy Management Act (FISMA) certification in July. Google’s enterprise team told The Hill that more federal agencies have shown interest in deploying the company’s cloud-based applications since the FISMA certification.
Dan Israel, Google’s product marketing manager, said federal agencies of all sizes have shown interest in deploying Google Apps. The company is still negotiating with larger agencies, but The Hill reported that smaller agencies such as the U.S. Navy’s humanitarian branch and the University of California’s Berkeley Laboratory have adopted Google Apps.
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The government version of Google Apps differs from the consumer version in that it is run on a separate, Google-owned private cloud fortified with additional physical and network security. The company will also maintain its FISMA certification for the life of all its contracts to ensure that agencies remain in compliance without additional expense, he said. A separate unit of Google, known as the “Data Liberation Front” is working to ensure that individuals and organizations that stop using the company’s services can still freely access their data and migrate it to another software application.
At the state and local level, the City of Los Angeles has migrated more than 15,000 employees to Google Apps. The move is part of a larger effort to replace the city’s e-mail and applications with the cloud-based collaboration suite.
According to InformationWeek, 36 of LA's 40 city departments have adopted Google Apps. Once the project is complete, more than 30,000 employees will use the suite for e-mail, calendaring, documents, spreadsheets, instant messaging and video. The city will also use Google Sites, a Web-site creation and sharing service.
Los Angeles Chief technology Officer Randi Levin described the decision to switch to Google Apps as a way to improve collaboration and remote access to applications. The suite will also expand e-mail storage at a lower cost. Levin said he expects the city to save millions of dollars by shifting IT resources currently devoted to e-mail. She told InformationWeek that Google Apps will free up nearly 100 servers dedicated to e-mail, lowering the city’s electricity bills by nearly $750,000 over five years.