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1/4/2012
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Google Apps Conversion Smooth Sailing For NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration completes move of 25,000 users, marking the largest government agency switch to Google Apps in 2011, according to Google.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progres
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The U.S. government agency that oversees the National Weather Service has finally completed its move into the cloud.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in June 2011, awarded a three-year, $11.5 million contract to Maryland-based IT integrator Earth Resources Technologies (ERT) for the modernization of its email and calendar services and collaboration infrastructure. Working with Google partners Unisys and Tempus Nova, ERT has helped some 25,000 NOAA employees migrate to Google Apps.

In a video announcing the contract award last summer, NOAA CIO Joseph Klimavicz said the move to Google Apps was motivated by a desire to "better support our mission and mobile workforce."

NOAA's cloud conversion brings with it savings for taxpayers: Google's bill will be 50% less than an in-house solution, according to Klimavicz.

[ What's ahead for cloud computing? Read Top 12 Cloud Trends Of 2012. ]

NOAA began its relationship with Google in 2009 with a Google Apps pilot test. That test subsequently expanded to include over 500 people and resulted in very positive feedback, Klimavicz said.

Klimavicz also noted that NOAA had worked with the General Services Administration (GSA), itself a Google Apps for Government client, to review Google's security documentation."[W]e feel very comfortable with where [Google Apps] is in terms of providing a secure platform," he said.

For Google, NOAA's endorsement of the security of Google Apps serves as a counterbalance to the embarrassing withdrawal of the Los Angeles Police Department from a Google Apps migration that the City of Los Angeles committed to in 2009.

CSC, the IT integrator responsible for moving for Los Angeles government agencies to Google Apps, recently failed to meet its security commitments to the Los Angeles Police Department and now, with Google, must pay to maintain the LAPD's legacy Novell GroupWise system through November 20, 2012.

For several years now, Google has been leading the charge to promote cloud-based services over traditional on-premises software. In response, Microsoft has shifted from dismissing the cloud to promoting cloud services anchored by on-premises software--a hybrid model, embodied by Office 365, that preserves Microsoft's installable cash cow--Office--while also accepting the inevitability of cloud computing.

The two companies remain at each other's throats, hoping to win contracts from enterprises and large organizations that are open to altering their IT infrastructure. While large organizations are typically slow to change, many of them are in the midst of rethinking their computational commitments, thanks to the rise of mobile devices and the consumerization of IT.

Kennith Jackson, Google Apps deployment manager, said in a blog post that NOAA is the largest government agency to switch to Google Apps in 2011 and predicted additional coverts to Google's cloud in 2012. Microsoft is sure to have its own customer success stories to tell this year, too.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

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