Is Google's L.A. Cloud Deployment Derailed?

Google's cloud computing contract with the City of Los Angeles, a problem-plagued deployment nearly from the start, is again in trouble, as city officials claim that Google and solution provider CSC can't meet the security requirements of some city agencies.

The latest hurdles for Google come as the $7.2 million cloud contract stretches to the two-year mark. So far, only a little more than half of the 30,000 employees planned to switch to Google's cloud e-mail and collaboration plays, Gmail and Google Apps, from L.A.'s outdated Novell GroupWise system actually have been cut over to Google, according to reports.

In a recent Los Angeles Times report, L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine said he filed a public motion that says Google and its contractors have "been unable to meet the security requirements of the city and LAPD for all data and information." The councilman also requested that city attorneys offer a status report on the contract.

Google's L.A. cloud contract has been under tight scrutiny from city officials since early on, with some city agencies, mostly the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and other public safety offices, expressing concern that confidential data will not be secure in the cloud. The agencies said that criminal histories and other law enforcement information may not be secured properly in the cloud.

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Google, however, said its L.A. cloud deployment remains on track.

"We are meeting our commitments to the City of Los Angeles. Indeed, the City recently renewed their Google Apps contract for 17,000 employees, and the project is expected to save Los Angeles taxpayers millions of dollars," a Google spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to CRN.

"The City has acknowledged Google Apps is more secure than its current system. Along the way they've also introduced new requirements which require work to implement in a cloud computing environment, and we’ve presented a plan to meet them at no additional cost," the Google spokesperson continued.

Google did not offer a project completion date or additional information.

Google and CSC have also come under fire in a leaked letter, published by the consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. In the letter, which L.A. CTO Randi Levin wrote to CSC in August, Levin references a letter from May in which "CSC indicates that it is unable to meet the security requirements of the City and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for all data and information, pursuant to U.S. DOJ Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) policy requirements."

Next: Consumer Watchdog On Google's 'Broken Promises'

In the same letter, Levin proposes amendments that will enable Google and CSC "to complete and comply with the security requirements of the City for all data and information." In the amendments, Levin suggests that there will be no charge to the city for Google licenses for the LAPD and there will be no charge or a credit of the charges back to the city for Google licenses for other city departments "affected by [CSC's] inability to meet all security requirements," including the City Attorney Criminal Branch, Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Investigators and others. Another amendment requires Google to continue to pay for the city's Novell GroupWise system costs from July 2011 through Nov. 20, 2012.

In a letter to L.A.'s mayor regarding the Google-L.A. cloud deployment, Consumer Watchdog's president Jamie Court and privacy advocate John Simpson wrote "Google's record with the city is nothing but broken promises and missed deadlines. The Internet giant simply has not done what it said it would do and has tried to buy its way out of the mess it has made by covering the unbudgeted costs of the LAPD's GroupWise System that the department has been forced to continue using.

But in a statement e-mailed to CRN, the Google spokesperson dismissed Consumer Watchdog's claims.

"This is just the latest in a long list of press stunts from a group that admits to working closely with our competitors," the Google spokesperson said.

The latest developments are two new struggles for Google and CSC and the now two-year-old L.A. cloud contract which has been dogged by delays and security concerns. The city of L.A. earlier this year also discussed potential litigation if the cloud project was not completed within a reasonable timeframe. It was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2010.

Google and its cloud competitors have been making major pushes into the government space, and Google's L.A. cloud win was among the first major government cloud coups. Since that project was revealed, Google and Microsoft have duked it out over cloud customers, including government cloud contracts, and on the federal level even ended up in court over the U.S. Department of the Interior selecting Microsoft for its cloud computing systems and passing over Google. Google's lawsuit against the DOI prompted a judge to send the federal agency back to the drawing board and re-evaluate cloud vendors for its e-mail and collaboration systems.