City of Pittsburgh signs 4-year deal with Google Cloud

The city is spending $4 million over four years to migrate its legacy IT infrastructure to Google Cloud

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Pittsburgh started working with Google last summer when  city urgently needed to increase its storage capacity.

The city of Pittsburgh on Monday announced it's signed a four-year deal to with Google to migrate its legacy IT infrastructure to the cloud. The city will spend just over $4 million over four years, Google said, for a range of services focused on improving the efficiency and reliability of its IT -- and setting the city up to deliver modern, digitized services to its residents. 

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Currently, Pittsburgh is dealing with on-premise data centers that provide "a fairly brittle environment that isn't scalable or flexible," Heidi Norman, acting director of the City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance, said to ZDNet.  "We decided to take a leap with Google and do something that is, within municipal governments, innovative." 

Google, for its part, has pursued government contracts at the local, state and federal levels. A spokesperson for the company said the deal "serves as a pilot partnership for Google Cloud's added value for municipalities." 

That added value comes in the form of migration, storage, applications, computing, and professional services, as well as training and certifications for staff. Pittsburgh's IT team is working with Cloudbakers, a third-party Google partner, through the migration. Additionally, Google "provided us the opportunity to train our staff on how to manage and monitor the infrastructure we are moving toward," Norman said. 

"Moving IT infrastructure to the cloud is not easy, and it's expensive," she said. 

The city started working with Google last summer when it urgently needed to increase its storage capacity. "Google basically removed the challenges we had identified earlier and laid a path with very few obstacles we would have to overcome," Norman said. 

The public sector was one of six verticals Google Cloud identified as key to its growth in 2019, along with financial services, healthcare, retail, communications/media and manufacturing. Since then, it's taken different tacks to build up its public sector business. 

Recently, for example, the state of West Virginia migrated to Google Workspace capabilities for all of its 22,000 state employees. Meanwhile, Google won a contract with the city of Memphis through a collaboration with SpringML to apply AI and machine learning to public works and urban planning problems, such as identifying and fixing potholes faster.   

At the federal level, the US Defense Department (DoD) is using Google's Anthos platform to build a multi-cloud management platform for detecting and responding to cyber threats. 

In addition to focusing on key verticals, Google has been landing multi-year deals that should help strengthen its position in the market. Overall industry spending on cloud infrastructure continues to grow, though Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure currently have just over half of the market. Google's market share, according to research firm Canalys, is 7 percent. While Google Cloud revenues grew 47 percent in Q4 2020, the business still delivered an operating loss of $1.24 billion.