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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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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Reader Comments

Thu, Oct 14, 2010

Security aside, what will these organizations do when their internet connectivity has a major outage? I realize many people use distant servers already, but there is usually SOME residual computer capability when cut off from the outside world. I could maybe see this quasi-cloud for non-critical agencies and functions, but for many parts of government, downtime is not an option. A PC cut off from the universe can still be used to get SOME work done while you wait for the internet to come back, but without any local apps, about all you can do is play solitaire.

Wed, Oct 13, 2010 Jeffrey A. Williams Frisco Texas

Well this seems a bit scary to me given the recent as well as long term history of Google with respect to security. However given that State governments in particular are hard pressed from a budget point of view, looking for areas to save gives rise to this kind of decision making and unfortunately risk taking.

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