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City of LA Moves Email to Google's Gov-Only Cloud

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, October 29 2009

Here's a deal that U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra is likely watching closely: the city of Los Angeles, reports InformationWeek, has just signed a contract to move 30,000 of its employees from a Novell email service to Google Apps-based email. The city estimates that the plan, $7 million at signing, will save the municipality $5 million over the next five years. Leaving aside the vagueness surrounding what "cloud computing" is, exactly, Kundra has been extolling the merits of moving government to the clouds. Google brings to the table rather enormous server farms all over the world, but storing government information in scattered bits and pieces raises security and reliability concerns -- especially after the recent SideKick debacle. Don't worry, says Google. This might be cloud computing, but it's a private cloud with a chain-link fence around it; the company is building a government-only Google Apps-hosting cloud, housed on only U.S.-based servers and staffed by employees that gave undergone the security checks called for by the government entities housing their goods on those servers.

Having one of the country's biggest cities make the Google switch -- while saving money, ensuring security, and giving its employees a bit more flexibility with how they use their email -- might help Kundra sell the idea of moving Uncle Sam to the clouds. In other U.S. CIO news, NextGov reports that the Open Government Directive that the OMB promised to deliver by the end of this month is now on a timetable of "within the next couple weeks."

(Photo credit: turtlemom4bacon [How much would you pay to know the backstory on that name?])