Running your government with Google Apps

Google says its ready to offer its online office suite to the U.S. government.

At a press briefing…at its headquarters, Google announced a new version of its Apps suite designed specifically for government customers. This tier will be sold alongside the existing version of Google Apps and priced the same as the company’s premiere license–$50 per user, per year.

Google Apps for Government features all the same applications that can be found in other versions but comes with a higher level of security, which Google says meets the requirements set forth by the Federal Information Security Management Act. This includes segregated data centers, which Google says goes beyond FISMA regulations, and will keep government e-mail and calendar event data within U.S. borders.

Google says it got its FISMA certification late last week, after having to change a number of back-end security features and protocols…

According to Google, the federal government spends $76 billion on information technology, while some $56 billion is spent by state and local governments. Glotzbach pointed to examples from the existing Google Apps installations at the Berkeley Lab and the U.S. Navy–both of which he says will save those groups money over the systems they were using before. In the case of the Berkeley Lab, Google says it’s a projected savings of $1.5 million to $2 million over the next five years.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, who dropped in near the end of the news briefing, said the government organizations the company had talked with were “dying” to make the move to a cloud-based office infrastructure. “All of them have the same problem. They’re trapped in architecture that’s 15 to 20 years old. They would much prefer to have somebody manage the services than them manage the data centers,” he said…

You can bet the two biggest questions delaying acceptance will be a full-court press of lobbying from the traditional vendors of software and hardware systems to government – and bureaucrats falling over themselves to figure out how to maintain their own power and prestige.

And then there will still be those who fear technology beyond pencils.

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