Could Google Cloud Delays In L.A. Spark Litigation?

Google's troubled cloud computing deployment for the City of Los Angeles, which was supposed to be completed last year, continues, and according to some reports, the City of Angles might get litigious if the project doesn't come to fruition soon.

City attorneys were present last week at a closed-door city budget committee meeting, which according to a Los Angeles Times report on the city's stalled Google cloud deployment is a sign that the city could be considering litigation.

However, a source familiar with the meeting has told CRN that litigation was not mentioned during the closed-door meeting.

"Litigation and other options were not discussed," that source said.

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L.A. tapped Google and solution provider CSC in late 2009 to move city employees off of its aging Novell GroupWise system to Google Apps for Government for cloud computing, e-mail and collaboration. In July 2010, the Los Angeles cloud project hit delays and Google and CSC had missed the June 30, 2010 deadline to complete the project. The delay, the city and Google said at the time, stemmed from security concerns from some city agencies, namely the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and other public safety organizations that were concerned with how sensitive data is handled a cloud environment.

Despite the delays, the L.A. City Council voted in August 2010 to stick with Google Apps for the city-wide cloud computing deployment.

But last week, the city budget committee convened to discuss its cloud contract and the continuing delays with the city has encountered as Google and CSC move it to the cloud.

"The fundamental issue is the security element for the police, the city attorney and general services, which have not been completed," said City Councilman Bernard Parks, told The L.A. Times adding, "I think we've given them more than enough time."

Meanwhile, L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel sent the city technology agency a letter asking it to "explain the circumstances leading to the failed deliverables," The Times reported.

Google, however, stuck to its guns Monday, noting that more than 16,000 city employees representing 36 of 40 departments are currently using Google Apps.

"What's taking a little longer is moving the public safety agencies," a Google spokesman said in an interview.

According to Google, the City of Los Angeles recently requested that Google Apps meet certain public safety requirements before certain agencies, including the LAPD, can leverage Google Apps. Those requirements weren't laid out in the original contract and led to delays, Google said.

"Many security standards for government systems were designed before cloud computing," Google said. "It's not to say in trying to meet these standards that Google Apps is not secure, but it takes more work to make it compliant."

NEXT: CSC Weighs In On Google's L.A. Cloud Delays

In a statement e-mailed to CRN, CSC said that despite the delays the city's cloud deployment has already lowered costs and improved employee e-mail and collaboration capabilities.

"So far, LAPD employees have not migrated to Google Apps because of necessary, additional security requirements that the department requires to work within the larger U.S. law enforcement community," CSC said. "These new requirements were not included in CSC's contract with the City and were not specified in the City's RFP for this project. As the LAPD and the City have brought new requirements to CSC, we have developed a process with the City to identify new requirements, prioritize them, and develop a schedule to deliver them to the City. Many of these new features have been incorporated at no additional cost to the City. In accordance with our process, CSC and Google will provide the City with a timeline for developing and incorporating these new security requirements."

The CSC statement continued: "We recognize the importance of the security requirements, and CSC is working with the City to reach a solution to completing them. In the case of these and other new requirements, CSC will proactively work with the City to follow the change control process and find the right solutions to support our contract obligations. CSC, however, cannot be held accountable for requirements that were not established by the City in its RFP or by contract, or for additional requirements not introduced through the City’s change-control processes established in the contract between CSC and the City."

Google couldn't say when the Los Angeles cloud computing deployment will be completed, but a completion date should be available soon.

The spotlight has again shone on Google's L.A. cloud woes as Google faces another hurdle in its bid to be the cloud provider of record for federal and government employees.

Last week, Microsoft called Google out, claiming Google Apps for Government is not FISMA certified, which is a security certification that shows a cloud provider can comply with the rigorous security guidelines for federal deployments. Google battled back, and said that Google Apps is FISMA certified, therefore Google Apps for Government, which adds additional security controls, is certified by default. It also came to light that Microsoft itself has not obtained full FISMA certification for its cloud computing offerings.

The FISMA flap stemmed directly from Google suing the Department of the Interior claiming that the federal agency unfairly selected Microsoft to deploy its cloud-based e-mail system and worded procurement documents in a way that discouraged competition. A judge has granted an injunction in the case that puts the DOI's cloud deployment on hold until the matter is sorted out.