Cloud lessons IT shops can learn from each other

GSA could glean lessons from Los Angeles' e-mail transition, analyst says

Government organizations looking to move their e-mail systems to the cloud could benefit from the lessons of those that have gone before them. Fortunately, those lessons are available.

E-mail is generally seen as among the Web-enabled, low-hanging fruit for cloud-based services. State and municipal IT shops are moving e-mail to the cloud, often as a cost-cutting measure. E-mail also is a likely target for federal agencies, which are under mandate to move three services to the cloud within the next 12 to 18 months.

But a transition isn’t likely to be seamless. The General Services Administration, which plans to move its employees to a cloud-based e-mail system, could learn from the experience of Los Angeles, writes Mitch Betts in Computerworld


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Betts quotes Shawn McCarthy, an IDC Government Insights analyst and a GCN columnist, as saying that the city and integrator Computer Sciences Corp. had a tough summer implementing a cloud-based Google e-mail system.

In an online forum, McCarthy said the system had trouble with the police department’s security and archiving requirements, and often had lag times of as long as several hours in delivering mail, Betts writes. McCarthy also said Google needs to add features such as automatic generation of confirmation receipts, which become important in legal matters.

After several months, performance of the system has improved, McCarthy said during the forum. His conclusion: Take it slowly, provide incentives for improving a system, and plan for special functions such as handling legal documents.

What GSA could learn from Los Angeles other cities and states can also learn from GSA. The agency’s Info.Apps.Gov website includes a collection of case studies on a variety of state and local cloud computing implementations, including those involving e-mail.

In addition to Los Angeles, the site includes outlines of cloud e-mail projects in Canton, Ga.; Orlando, Fla.; and New Mexico. It also features projects such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ collaboration initiative, Virginia’s application development platform and Colorado’s enterprise cloud project.

The case studies don’t go into great detail, but they do describe the systems being moved to a cloud environment and what the organizations expect to save. For agencies considering a move to the cloud, it’s a start.

About the Author

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

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