NOAA, Pittsburgh complete switch to Google Apps

Both The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the city of Pittsburgh are kicking off 2012 in the clouds.

NOAA has successfully moved 25,000 employees, contractors and associates to Google Apps for Government, giving its workforce access to cloud-based e-mail and collaboration tools.

Moving 25,000 people to a new system in six months is no small task. However, the rapid deployment was the result of a well-coordinated effort by NOAA employees, prime contractor ERT Inc., and Google partners Unisys and Tempus Nova, according to a blog post by Kennith Jackson, deployment manager for Google Apps.

Related coverage:

NOAA moving e-mail to Google's cloud 

NOAA issued a request for proposals in January 2011 and made the award to ERT in June. The team put in place an aggressive schedule to have the system implemented by December and delivered on the plan.

NOAA's staff members now have a set of tools such as instant messaging; video chat; and real-time, multiuser document collaboration to help them work together more effectively.

“The cost to the taxpayer will be 50 percent less than an in-house solution,” said NOAA CIO Joseph Klimavicz during the announcement of the agency’s migration to the cloud in June 2011.

Moreover, the move to Google Apps lets NOAA’s scientists and staff members receive their e-mail and other information wherever their work may take them. With operations around the country, in the air and on the sea, NOAA needed applications that work anywhere without the hassle of managing hardware in all their locations. Many members of the workforce spend time outside the office collecting data on weather, climate, oceans and coasts. As a result, access to work information on mobile devices is critical.

Meanwhile, the city of Pittsburgh has completed the migration of 3,000 city employees to Google Apps for Government with the help of Daston Corp., a provider of tailored software-as-a-service and cloud computing technology.

“We have successfully retired our Microsoft Exchange 2003 e-mail system and moved almost all 3,000 city employees to Google Apps for Government in four months,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said during a “Google Go-Live” event Jan. 4.

The migration was completed on time and on budget, Pittsburgh CIO Howard Stern said in an interview with GCN. The city had allocated $400,000 for the migration; $200,000 for implementation costs and another $150,000 to $170,000 for Google services for the mailboxes, he said.

The city’s 3,000 employees will now have 500 times more e-mail storage than they previously had. They also have improved collaboration and productivity while the city will save 25 percent or more in annual e-mail support costs, Ravenstahl said.

The move to Google Apps will also free the City Information Systems department from the responsibility of maintaining and patching the legacy system established in 2003.

The city had two administrators who spent a significant amount of time maintaining Microsoft Exchange servers, which are now being decommissioned. The move to the cloud frees up 40 percent of their time to do other tasks, he said.

CIS will also strengthen data security, since Google Apps for Government received Federal Information Security Management Act certification, city officials said.

With more state and local governments under budget constraints and charged with doing more with less, the move to the cloud will be a growing trend among municipalities, Stern said.

Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or interaction from the service provider

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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