Los Angeles goes Google; dumps GroupWise; shuns Microsoft; ignores IBM

The City of Los Angeles has had it with GroupWise, and will replace it with Google Apps. It's a big win for la GOOG, especially as it beat Microsoft to the deal. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers count how many angels can dance on a cloud.

By Richi Jennings. October 28, 2009.


Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention iPhone costumes...

    David Sarno brings the facts:

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously today to outsource its e-mail system to Google Inc. ... handing the Web search giant a major victory in its quest to become a software provider to the world's cities and businesses. After more than two hours of debate, council members voted 12-0 to approve the $7.25-million contract that would move all 30,000 city employees to Google's so-called cloud.


Council members had voiced objections to the contract, including whether the city would see any real cost savings ... and when the new system would be ready to store data from law enforcement, where security standards are more rigorous ... [and] expressed concern that the city might be signing on before Google's cloud system was fully proven.

Robert McMillan has an interesting angle:

Google is touting the deal as a major endorsement of its cloud-based approach to computing, but it turns out that some of the funding is indirectly coming from an unlikely source ... just over $1.5 million for the project will come from the payout of a 2006 class action lawsuit. ... Microsoft paid $70 million three years ago to settle the suit ... which alleged that Microsoft used its monopoly position to overcharge.


The migration from the city's Novell GroupWise e-mail servers will be handled by contractor Computer Sciences Corp. Other applications such as calendaring, document sharing and chat will be handled by Google Apps too. ... Google has pushed Google Apps as an option for government agencies, promising to ship a product called Government Cloud, which will be certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), sometime next year.

Nick Eaton has the view from Seattle:

[It] marks a victory for Google over Microsoft, the leader in productivity software. ... Each company spent tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying, though the Redmond-based software giant handily outspent its Silicon Valley rival. ... Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest metropolis, will be the first major U.S. city to fully entrust its e-mail system to the world of cloud computing.


While the companies fought for L.A.'s stamp of approval, Google argued its platform saves customers on the IT costs of running their own servers. Microsoft said with that platform comes security concerns, and questions the reliability of an online network that has, occasionally, crashed temporarily.

Sam Diaz quips, "Score one for Google and The Cloud":

Clearly, this is a big deal for the city of Los Angeles. But this vote is also monumental for cloud computing as a whole, which has gained popularity and widespread interest but still relatively little adoption as companies ... weigh the anticipated cost benefits over the unknown risks that might come with system failures or data breaches.


This doesn’t necessarily mean the beginning of the end for Microsoft in this space. Los Angeles is just one city. ... But Google clearly has its sights set on the enterprise for the next wave of growth, even to the point that it could overtake - or nicely complement - the advertising business..

Jennifer van Grove blogs from San Diego:

However, security concerns over storing information in the cloud did factor into the process and have yet to be 100% alleviated. ... Computer Sciences Corp ... would need to agree to pay a penalty should there be a security breach.


If the deal does go through it would be quite the coup for Google and their Going Google campaign. With both the US Government supporting the initiative and the city of Los Angeles joining the Google team, Google is building up an arsenal of large and impressive customers that should make it easier to attract more top dollar enterprise clients.

Lindsay William-Ross tells us why:

The impetus behind what some view as a costly or belated upgrade is the fact that the system they currently use, GroupWise, is often down and unreliable. In fact, ... deputy chief of staff ... Matt Szabo ... calls GroupWise ... "one of the most antiquated crash prone e-mail systems in the history of humankind," noting for example it was down all weekend and into Monday.

But Stephen Box ain't happy:

It demonstrates a short-sighted willingness to invest in technology as a substitute for a commitment to training city staff in a larger communications strategy based on LA's Connectivity Vision. If you haven't heard of LA's Connectivity Vision, it's because LA doesn't have one. ... Technology is no substitute for vision and skills. Learning to type fast does not make one a great novelist.


The City of LA is in no position to spend $7 million on a "cloud computing" experiment that leaves privacy advocates storming the gates of City Hall, not Google.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

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