Google rolls out Apps for Government

Google on Monday unveiled a new version of Google Apps designed to meet the rigorous security needs of U.S. government agencies.

Google Apps for Government includes Gmail, Talk, Groups, Calendar, Docs, Sites, Video and Postini. The service costs the same as Google's existing Premier Edition offering: $50 per user per year.

Data in the apps will be stored only in the U.S., and servers that support the offering are segregated from those used by nongovernmental customers, Google said.

The service meets requirements for data security laid out in the Federal Information Security Management Act, so it can be used by agencies that are required to comply with the act.

The government service is available now and Google highlighted a couple of customers already using it. Berkeley Labs, which is part of the Department of Energy, started using Google Apps earlier this year. More than 4,000 employees and 1,000 research partners are using Google Docs & Sites to collaborate, and 4,000 are using Google Mail.

Larimer County, Colorado, has also started using Google Apps for Government.

Earlier this year, Microsoft also introduced a suite of hosted cloud services aimed at government users.

Those services are hosted at special facilities where physical access to the site is controlled by biometric systems and employees go through rigorous background checks. The services comply with a number of government certifications.

Google's announcement follows reports last week indicating that the company had missed a June deadline of full implementation of Google Apps for the city of Los Angeles.

The delay is reportedly due to concerns over the security of the offering.

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