Google Apps in Los Angeles: A Closer Look

Matthew Weinberger

December 15, 2009

The City of Los Angeles has finalized its decision to migrate its 30,000 city employees from their existing GroupWise e-mail system to Google Apps, according to the official Google Enterprise blog. Yes, we’ve previously covered the deal, But there’s still plenty for MSPs to learn from this deployment. One example: City of Los Angeles CTO Randi Levin says the project will cut the municipality’s electricity bills by nearly $750,000 over five years. Here’s an update.

The Google blog post, guest-written by Levin, describes why Google Apps was the logical choice for this particular project: Instant messaging and video chat options are included in the package; the Google web interface makes it much easier for employees to check e-mail and get work done from home; Google lets each user have more storage than their on-premises solution could ever afford.

Levin also offered up a video interview:

Money Matters

Now the showstopper. “Google Apps will save the city of Los Angeles millions of dollars by allowing us to shift resources currently dedicated to email to other purposes,” Levin writes in the blog post. “For example, moving to Google will free up nearly 100 servers that were used for our existing email system, which will lower our electricity bills by almost $750,000 over five years.”

Moreover, city representatives are harping on the virtues Google’s usability and security edges over Groupwise: the familiar Gmail interface coupled with Google’s security and corporate compliance features make for what must seem to be an unbeatable combination to a city employee.

Key Considerations

This all sounds great, but there are two points to be made:

  • Google competitors like Zoho offer enterprise-grade SaaS applications; was Google the best choice?

  • Moreover, is it appropriate for government agencies to use the public cloud at all? The cost savings are nothing to be sneered at, but this means that sensitive confidential materials and possibly even personal records are sitting in a Google data center, not being watched over by a public servant.

In recent months, more and more MSPs seem to be siding with Google on the SaaS debate. Nearly 22 percent of MSPmentor 100 survey participants say they are recommending Google Apps to their customers. (The survey closed Dec. 11; results will be published in 1Q 2010.)

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