Unisys has moved 17,000 agency employees to cloud-based email, which could save $15.2 million over the next five years.
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The General Services Administration (GSA)--the first federal agency to embrace the cloud--has now become the first to completely migrate its email system to it.
Unisys said Tuesday that it's completed the agency's migration of more than 17,000 employees to Google Apps for Government for cloud-based email and collaboration, a move the GSA decided on in May 2010. The GSA awarded Unisys the contract for the job in December 2010.
Based on the GSA deployment, Unisys now is offering its own Google Apps for Government-based system--called Collaborative Office Solutions--to other agencies interested in migrating in-house email systems to the cloud, the company said.
Unisys completed the migration of the GSA's accounts in six months and said the agency should see a 50% cost savings over the next five years compared to the costs it incurred for the staff, infrastructure, and support of the in-house system.
GSA Administrator Martha Johnson corroborated this savings in a statement, adding that the savings will amount to more than $15.2 million in that time.
In addition to savings, the GSA also expects cloud-based email to increase employee productivity by allowing them to work remotely and access new collaboration features, such as direct access to on-site and remote co-workers through video chat and shared documents.
To help GSA employees to utilize the system, Unisys also trained about 16,000 of them on best practices for Google Apps for Government, the company said.
Cloud computing across the federal government is ramping up thanks to a "cloud first" policy instituted by outgoing U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra last December as part of sweeping IT reform. As part of the policy, agencies were asked to identify at least three systems they could move to the cloud, a move that's created a host of new cloud projects that are currently in the works.
Kundra will give up his position at the federal government for a fellowship at Harvard on Aug. 1, also leaving up in the air his ambitious plans for agencies to embrace the cloud. But federal officials have said publicly Kundra's IT reform work will be continued even after his departure.
To that end, email and collaboration appear to be the low-hanging fruit of cloud computing for the feds, as it's one of the first systems deemed cloud-friendly by agencies.
NOAA chose Google Apps, the USDA chose Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite, and the Army, given its specialized security concerns, chose a private cloud hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency. Google and Microsoft are in a heated battle to win government cloud contracts for agencies that choose a public option.
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