Google Apps Launches for L.A.'s 34,000 Employees

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-12-14

Los Angeles officially went Google, six weeks after Google beat Microsoft and other suitors for the right to replace Novell's GroupWise platform with Google Apps in a contract valued at $7.25 million.  

Google officials trumpeted the news in two blog posts Dec. 14, noting that L.A.'s 34,000 city employees will begin using Google Apps, including Gmail for e-mail and Google Docs and other applications to help share files and work together.

Google has solicited CSC's help in supporting the city's switch in the contract, which has a three-year base period and two one-year options. Under the terms of the agreement, CSC will provide systems integration, solution architecture and design, integration with the city's identity management system, migration of live and archived e-mail data, and training.

Why L.A. chose Google Apps is simple. Randi Levin, CTO for the city of Los Angeles, wanted to replace GroupWise and chose Google's cloud approach from 15 different proposals believing it will save the city millions of dollars on IT, allowing her staff to shift resources dedicated to e-mail to other purposes.

"For example, moving to Google will free up nearly 100 servers that were used for our existing e-mail system, which will lower our electricity bills by almost $750,000 over five years," Levin wrote in a post published on Google's Enterprise blog. In short, this decision helps us to get the most out of the city's IT budget."

Levin said she expects L.A. employees to benefit from instant messaging, video conferencing, and simultaneous review and editing of documents by multiple people; the ability to access their e-mail and work data from any computer thanks to the cloud approach; and 25 times more e-mail storage than they had with GroupWise.

This will be a calling card Google will use early and often in negotiations with other municipalities to get them to leave Microsoft Office Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise and other providers to Google's cloud computing model, where apps are hosted by Google and piped over the Internet.

Money is tight in this country-wide recession and companies are looking to save corporate dollars by using collaboration software that helps them cut down on server maintenance, as well as travel associated with business meetings. Google Apps can help with that, Levin and Google argue.

That Los Angeles chose Google over Microsoft and others for e-mail and collaboration apps could be a good template for other government agencies weighing whether or not to embrace Google and its cloud.

Some 38,000 employees in government agencies in Washington, D.C., also use Gmail and other Google Apps. Google is also building a so-called Government Cloud, a dedicated cloud computing system for the U.S. government, in 2010.  

L.A.'s decision process was rigorous. The top four proposals gave oral presentations, with CSC's proposal for Google Apps receiving the highest marks. On Oct. 27, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 in favor of using Gmail over Microsoft Outlook.

While more than 2 million businesses are using Google Apps, the company can't get too comfortable. Microsoft, Cisco, Zoho and a legion of others are offering comparable cloud-based collaboration services.

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