Security Fears Delay Google, CSC Cloud Computing Project In L.A.

IT security fears have caused Google and solution provider CSC to miss the completion deadline for a massive cloud computing project for the City of Los Angeles, delays that could force the companies to reimburse some of the project costs as they work to get the deployment back on track.

Google and CSC missed the June 30 deadline to complete the project partly due to IT security concerns from some city agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), a source told CRN on Friday. The incomplete project and missed deadline are major setbacks for both Google and CSC, the implementation partner that is leading the project.

Both Google and CSC boasted about their involvement in the project, which saw Google edge out Microsoft to take ownership of L.A.'s cloud computing initiative. The City of L.A. tapped CSC to provide systems integration and services, including architecture, design, integration, migration, archiving, and training for the Google Apps cloud computing system.

"The City of Los Angeles is one of the first local governments in the country to move into the cloud," CSC said in a statement e-mailed to CRN on Friday. "At this time, a significant number of city employees have migrated to Google Apps to replace their current e-mail systems. The project schedule has been extended to more fully meet additional security requirements, and we will continue to work closely with the city and Google, our subcontractor, to ensure the project's success."

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Late last year, the City of Los Angeles turned to Google Apps, Google's suite of Web-based productivity tools, and CSC's Cloud Orchestration Services to deliver mission-critical communications and collaboration capabilities to more than 30,000 city employees. At the time the deal was struck, Falls Church, Va.-based CSC said in a blog post that the shift to the cloud could save L.A. about $5.5 million over five years and achieve an ROI of up to $20 million. The contract was worth $7.25 million.

In a guest post in December on Google's Enterprise Blog, L.A. CTO Randi Levin said the city opted for Google Apps for cloud e-mail and collaboration capabilities for the city government because it would improve collaboration among city employees, ease remote access and increase storage.

"We want to provide all these employees with modern tools that help them do their jobs," Levin wrote. Later, Levin added: "In addition to empowering employees across the city, everyone will benefit from Google's security controls, which will provide a higher level of security for City data than exists with our current system."

But security concerns about Google Apps' data encryption and data segregation from the LAPD and the California Department of Justice led to the delay, forcing Google and CSC to miss the deadline in June for full implementation, the source told CRN. The agencies also voiced concern over delayed e-mail delivery suffered during the Google Apps pilot program and the agencies requesting background checks for Google employees that would have access to police department data. The source said Google is working with the LAPD and the Department of Justice to answer their security questions, which is delaying the project's completion.

NEXT: 'Speed Bumps' Slowed Cloud Project Progress

Google and CSC were expected to have all municipal employees cut over to Google Apps by June 30. Since the deadline has been missed, the two companies will be expected to reimburse the city about $135,000. In the meantime, the LAPD will continue to use the city's former Novell GroupWise system, the source said.

L.A. CTO Levin told MarketWatch that 10,000 city employees are currently switched over to Google Apps, and she hopes to have 6,000 more up to speed come mid-August. After that, the city will plot a schedule to get the roughly 13,000 police department members onto Google Apps.

"We've had a lot of technical issues, some we've created and some we haven't," Levin told MarketWatch. "We underestimated the amount of time it was going to take."

"There have been some documented speed bumps along the way. Some were from the city, some from Google and some from CSC," the source said, adding that the project should be completed within the next couple of months. "This is sort of a watershed signing for Google … it's a highly complex project spread across several city agencies."

The source added that so far Google has delivered the features and functions promised and has fulfilled the security requirements outlined at the project's inception. The LAPD's concerns, the source said, developed over time and are not a sign that the Google Apps system being implemented by CSC is not secure. The security concerns and requirements evolved as the project implementation continued, the source said.

Google on Friday maintained that the hiccups haven't derailed L.A.'s transition to the cloud. Google said the L.A. deployment is unique and is potentially the largest cloud project in the U.S. in terms of communication and collaboration.

"The city government’s migration to the cloud is the first of its kind, and we’re very pleased with the progress to date," Google spokesperson Andrew Kovacs said in a statement e-mailed to CRN. "More than 10,000 employees are already using Google Apps, and we’re working closely with CSC and the City to ensure the project is a great success for Los Angeles."