The noise surrounding Google App’s City of LA deployment doesn’t appear to be dying down anytime soon. Yesterday, another article highlighting Google’s failure came up on the basis of a leaked email from the City of Los Angeles. 
The April 13 letter, addressed to L.A.’s information technology and government affairs committee from City Administrative Officer Miguel A. Santana, notes that during a pilot program testing the Google Apps system, which was deployed by Google implementation channel partner CSC, users voiced frustration over performance issues. The latter also notes that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) expressed concerned about the systems’ level of security. The letter sheds an early light on some of the key reasons Google has missed the deadline to complete the project.
In my opinion, there is a quite a bit of hype going on regarding the so called bungling by Google. Let me try to list out the criticisms in simple sentences based on my understanding of the issue.
  • One of the biggest criticisms was about slow performance of Google Apps. It has been found that it was partly due to issues within their own network and issues associated with the browsers used by the employees, mostly Internet Explorer. In my opinion, this is not a Google problem.
  • The second biggest complaint is lack of functionality in Google Apps. Looks like city employees were using Groupwise before they started the pilot with Google Apps. Many of the employees feel that Google Apps doesn’t match with Groupwise on functionality. Such criticisms are natural when you move an organization from one platform to another. If anything, this is not a Google problem at all. It is the responsibility of City of LA IT to decide whether Google Apps matches their needs and then convince their employees about the merits of the system. Any criticism of Google on this is pretty naive. Such criticisms can occur whenever any IT moves their organization to a different platform.
  • The third criticism, coming from LAPD about the security, might have some merit. However, without any details on this issue, it is just a case of my guess vs your guess. However, the recent announcement by Google to separate out the government data from its commercial customers and some security enhancements associated with this move should help Google convince LAPD.
The third point above brings into focus Google’s recent announcement about Google Apps for Government. Going an extra mile to reach out to Government’s requirement is a smart move by Google. President Obama’s administration is serious about Government going cloud and opened up a marketplace where different vendors can offer services for Government agencies at all levels, federal, state and local. US Government being one of the biggest IT spender in the world, this will help Google in a big way.
Google Apps for government offers the following additional features that was not previously available with Google Apps Premier edition. 
  • Government data will be segregated from the commercial customers’ data on secure Google datacenters that are FISMA certified. All the government data is stored inside the US borders
  • Google Apps is now FISMA certified. Google Apps is the first multi-tenant cloud application to get FISMA certification. It has received an authority to operate at the FISMA-Moderate level; an independent auditor assessed the level of operational risk as Low. This is a big coup for Google as it will help them not only secure government contracts but also help them convince enterprises that they can trust them with their data
  • Best in class data recovery at no additional cost. This is crucial for government agencies as they cannot afford to have any downtime or loss of important data
While FISMA certification helps Google gain the trust of government agencies and, even, some enterprise customers, they also got a shot in arm when CA announced their new CA Identity Manager with support for provisioning user accounts on Google Apps. This will allow easy provisioning and deprovisioning of user accounts. This has a potential to significantly boost Google Apps adoption in the enterprise market.
Central to CA’s cloud security strategy is the launch of new CA Identity Manager capabilities that bring identity management tools to cloud applications. Mann said CA Identity Manager now supports user provisioning to Google (NSDQ:GOOG) Apps, Google’s widely popular suite of cloud-based productivity applications like Gmail and Google Docs. Mann said users can now automate identity management functions, like role-based user provisioning and de-provisioning or self-service access requests to a single system for managing identities, for Google Apps in the cloud as well as applications that reside in-house.
While pundits and competitors are busy hyping up problems associated with the pilot at City of LA, Google is quietly taking steps to position Google Apps with both government and big enterprises. The next two years will show us whether Google is going to succeed in its efforts or not.
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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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