How NOAA went from zero to cloud in a year

In just a little more than a year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration went from shopping for solutions for desktop services to a full-scale implementation of Google Apps for Government. Here are some milestones in that process.

November 2010

The CIO's office began a market analysis to determine what would be the best course of action. Options included building their own system and using a third-party solution. They concluded that Google Apps for Government would best suit their operational and pricing requirements.

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June 2011

NOAA awarded the contract to Google Apps.

Aug. 31, 2011

The agency finishes an early migration of 521 NICE Systems users. NICE Systems of Rutherford, N.J., provides compliance checking and security software to many government agencies and businesses. The NICE contingent was primarily responsible for the security of NOAA facilities, so it makes sense that they would be the first to be migrated.

Sept. 12, 2011

The central IT staff, which had 81 users, converted to Google Apps.

Oct. 11, 2011

Early adopters, a total of 314 users, were next in line. Users from different departments who might have had some prior experience with Google Apps were chosen to migrate. Those users were supposed to kick the tires and discover any potential problems before the general user base moved to Google Apps.

Nov. 8, 2011

Although this step was not on the original schedule, a hardware failure prompted immediate action. The e-mail server for the staff of the National Climatic Data Center died. Within 24 hours, the IT staff recovered what e-mail data they could from the corpse and migrated all 413 NCDC users to Google Apps.

Nov. 14, 2011

The rest of the IT support staff — 590 users — migrated at this time. NOAA added this step during the migration process. The agency decided that if support staff had nearly a month to get used to the applications before the rest of the organization went live, they would be able to better handle trouble tickets from the masses.

Dec. 12, 2011

This was the go-live date for about 16,000 users. Everyone who had not already migrated started using Google Apps. Surprisingly, during the first week, the Unified Messaging Service central help desk received only 129 support requests. That was because hundreds of NOAA employees who were already proficient volunteered to be UMS ambassadors and helped resolve questions and problems in their departments.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.


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