Google's hiccups in L.A. highlight need for more education about cloud apps

As government agencies, such as the city of Los Angeles, make the switch to Google Apps, there's a learning curve that both the government agencies and Google must undergo to make the transition process a smooth one.

Today's Google Apps for Government news comes days after Google and the city of Los Angeles made headlines about some speed bumps in the rollout of Google Apps for the city.

At the press event today, execs took a few minutes for questions about the Los Angeles rollout and said that, in part, the federal FISMA certification has helped to address some of the city's concerns. A thumbs-up from FISMA is, in a sense, working as a blanket "banner of trust" that state and local governments can point to for reassurances.

One of the concerns expressed by the city of Los Angeles - specifically its police department - dealt with background checks on Google employees with access to LAPD data. Google said its employees already go through background checks to ensure the security of data on its clouds but that Los Angeles wanted checks specific to its data.

The rollout with the city of Los Angeles is a unique one because 1) it's the second largest city in the U.S. and 2) it is one of the first of its kind to jump into the cloud. To a certain extent, that means both the city and Google are in uncharted territory.

It also means there's a learning curve that comes with the rollout - and Google said one of the things it maybe could have done better is to explain how Google's process works.

In the past, companies - and government agencies - could actually see their physical servers, as well as the people in charge of managing and securing them. Literally, execs could look those employees in the eye - and that brings a certain amount of peace of mind.

Handing over keys to the data to a third party company is scary enough but not knowing who, within that third-party company, actually has access can be downright frightening. The Google execs said they understood that and are working with customers to address those concerns early.

Having the federal certification makes it easier, they said.

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