Google Says L.A. Cloud Apps Project Still On Track


The deal, inked last November, is Google's biggest win to date as it tries to position Google Apps as an alternative to on-premise enterprise productivity software. But in the past couple of months, some city agencies have been complaining about performance problems with Google Apps, while others have voiced security concerns.

The ensuing delays caused Google and CSC, its implementation partner, to miss their June 30 deployment deadline for full deployment. However, Google executives insist that the Los Angeles Google Apps deployment is still on track and that Los Angeles will still see $5.5 million in budget savings from the project over the next five years.

"There have been some minor speed bumps in the deployment, but the concerns have been overstated -- it's actually going quite well," said Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management for Google's Enterprise products, at the launch event for the new Google Apps For Government offering.

Google would have preferred to start rolling out Google Apps in 50 or so small and medium size cities, whose needs are far simpler than those of Los Angeles, the country's second largest city, according to Glotzbach. "The easier path for us would have been to focus on towns and cities, but we found a large partner that wanted to embark on this early," he said.

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The Los Angeles delay isn't going to escape the notice of Google competitors who've made their mark in the enterprise. Microsoft often derides Google's lack of enterprise experience, and at the software giant's Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month, Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said companies that dabble in Google Apps usually find it doesn't meet their needs.

"You know what, it turns out that businesses really do value services from companies that understand what it takes to support the enterprise, and they are willing to pay for it," Elop said at WPC.

Like any large government entity, the City Of Los Angeles is a complex organization whose different branches don't always agree on the role of new technology. So it's understandable that Google would be caught off guard by the LAPD's insistence, at a late stage of deployment, on running background checks on Google employees who access police department data.

More of these on-the-fly lessons are probably coming before the project is finished. But with Google Apps For Government, which tackles security fears of government agencies head on, Google is showing an willingness to adapt to the needs of some of the largest enterprise customers in existence.

"Everyone knows we're quite committed to the enterprise and cloud computing. It's an open field now," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at the event.