The U.S. General Services Administration is going Google.
The agency today announced a $6.7 million, five-year award for Google's cloud-based email and collaboration tools, a move that will help the agency reduce costs by 50 percent over the next five years. In all, the savings is expected to be around $15 million.
The shift from IBM's Lotus Notes system to a system on the Google Apps for Government platform marks the first federal agency to move its entire email system to the cloud. Casey Coleman, chief information officer for the GSA, said:
Cloud computing has a demonstrated track record of cost savings and efficiencies. With this award, GSA employees will have a modern, robust e-mail and collaboration platform that better supports our mission and our mobile workforce, and costs half as much.
Last month, the U.S. government announced that the Office of Management and Budget is now requiring federal agencies to use cloud services “whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists”
The win is big for Google, which has been battling for some respect for its cloud offering, specifically from government agencies. The company has taken steps to enhance its offerings and put concerns over security to rest. Over the summer, the company launched Google Apps for Government and announced that it had received FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) certification, which allowed it to store sensitive, yet unclassified, information, which makes up about 80 percent of all government data.
The company has also built a segregated physical set of servers for Gmail and calendaring for government customers and that other apps will soon be housed on those servers, as well. It also said that all government data will be stored within the borders of the continental United States.
The government is working on a proposal to reduce the number of its data centers - currently pushing 2,100 - by 40 percent by 2015. Adopting a cloud-first initiative is part of that process.