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Los Angeles Goes Google

As of Monday, city employees will be able to start using Google Apps for daily computing tasks.

Google is beginning to make its Google Apps suite available to the more than 30,000 employees of the City of Los Angeles, the result of a City Council vote in late October that selected integrator Computer Sciences Corporation's bid over 14 other proposals.

The competition to win LA's computing services contract, which runs for five years, was fierce.

Novell, which provides the GroupWise e-mail system that LA is leaving behind, disputed the projected cost of its offering. "[T]he budget figures for GroupWise have not been presented accurately," the company said in an October letter.

In July, the World Privacy Forum urged LA's Mayor to review the potential privacy and security risks of using Google Apps, and the LAPD Protective League,a group representing LA police officers, voiced similar concerns.

In August, before Google emerged as the winning service provider for the city, Matt Glotzbach, director of product management for Google's enterprise group, suggested that there was an active effort to sabotage Google's bid. "There's a lot of misinformation out there and our competitors who did not get selected may have had a part in spreading this misinformation," he said.

In a blog post on Monday, Randi Levin, CTO of the City of Los Angeles, characterized the decision to switch to Google Apps as an effort to help employees do their jobs better through improved collaboration, easier remote access, and expanded e-mail storage.

She also said that by using Google Apps, the City of Los Angeles expects to save millions of dollars by shifting IT resources devoted to e-mail to other areas. "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," she said. "In short, this decision helps us to get the most out of the city's IT budget."

In a YouTube video, Kevin Crawford, assistant general manager of LA's Information Technology Agency, estimates that the contract will save the city $5.5 million over its five year term. Levin, in the same video, suggests total ROI could be as much as $20 million when increased productivity is factored in.

Google has committed significant marketing muscle to its "Gone Google" campaign, an effort to convince businesses to commit to the company's cloud-based Google Apps suite.

Winning the business of the City of Los Angeles is not only a feather in Google's cap but a meaningful endorsement of cloud computing.

LA's choice may also encourage more large organizations and companies to reconsider the on-premises computing model of the past several decades. "Many other government agencies across California and around the country have already reached out to us to learn more," said Levin.

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