Google Apps making inroads with state and local governments

Organizations see the savings but haven't abandoned Microsoft Office

If Google Apps hasn’t quite caught fire with government organizations around the country, it does at least seem to be managing a slow, steady burn.

Concerns over security have given some organizations pause, but for others the bottom line has driven the switch. With state and local governments feeling a severe pinch from the economic downturn, free applications are becoming more attractive.

Russell Nichols in Government Technology reports on how Greenwood County, S.C., jumped into the cloud this spring, spending $17,000 to set up Google e-mail accounts for its 300 employees.

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Google launches FISMA-compliant Google Apps for Government

Michael Cohn, founder and a vice president of Cloud Sherpas, which handled the migration for the county, told Nichols that migration costs can range from $50,000 up to $1 million for large organizations but that migration provides significant savings over renewing software licenses and upgrading hardware.

Other state, city and county governments apparently agree. Cloud Sherpas has handled Google Apps migrations for 10 state and local governments, Cohn told Nichols.

Elsewhere, Los Angeles has made a big move to Google Apps, and Orlando, Fla., reported earlier this year that it had saved more than 60 percent on software licenses by switching to Google, according to the Official Google Enterprise Blog.

And most of these migrations took place before the July release of Google Apps for Government, which bears the approval of the Federal Information Security Management Act.  

A large-scale move to Google Apps — which is still just being done in pockets at the state and local level — wouldn’t necessarily spell doom for Microsoft Office or other office suites, however. Greenwood County and Los Angeles, for example, are mostly using Google Apps for e-mail.

And Shane O’Neill in CIO Magazine reported on how organizations such as Greenwood County were finding a balance between using Google Apps and Microsoft Office. Mostly, they might replace Outlook with Gmail, and rid themselves of Exchange servers in the process, but going to Google Docs is another story. Users are still too comfortable with Word and Excel, O’Neill writes.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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