Government Agency Completes Move to Google Cloud
- By Rutrell Yasin
More than 17,000 government e-mail users have migrated to Google Apps for Government, a secure cloud-based e-mail and collaboration platform, according to GSA Administrator Martha Johnson.
"It's official! The U.S. General Services Administration is the first federal agency to successfully migrate its employees to a cloud-based e-mail service using Google Apps for Government," Johnson wrote in a blog.
The move is the first step in GSA's effort to provide cloud e-mail as a service option to other federal agencies, Johnson noted.
In May 2011, GSA requested bids from industry that will give government agencies options for secure, cost-efficient cloud-based e-mail solutions, Johnson said.
"The successes and challenges faced by GSA in implementing our new cloud e-mail system will help inform our decision making and allow us to better serve our customer agencies as they begin moving to the cloud," she said.
GSA awarded Unisys a contract to migrate e-mail to the cloud in December 2010 via its Alliant contract. GSA expects its new solution to increase employee productivity, enabling employees to work remotely from any location at any time.
GSA will also benefit from new collaboration capabilities, such as direct access to onsite and remote colleagues through video chat and shared documents, Unisys officials said.
"We expect that using a cloud-based system will reduce e-mail operation costs by 50 percent over the next five years and save more than $15.2 million for the agency in that time," GSA's Johnson said.
During the six-month transition, more than 17,000 GSA and contractor e-mail addresses, content and calendar data were migrated to Google Apps for Government. Enhanced user authentication and other security improvements were also added during the transition phase.
All the agency's mobile devices also were transitioned, while certified Unisys consultants trained GSA employees on best practices for leveraging the Google Apps for Government platform. GSA and Unisys teams worked collaboratively to manage the transition with end user communication and participation, Unisys officials said.
Based on the success of its work with the GSA and other agencies, Unisys announced the availability of its Collaborative Office Solutions – Google Apps for Government. Working with Google and Tempus Nova, Unisys will provide a set of services to help agencies accomplish their enterprise transitions to Google Apps for Government.
Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or interaction from the service provider.
"Moving government agencies to the cloud is part of the Obama administration's ‘cloud first' strategy and GSA's success broadly demonstrates that agile, secure, reliable, and cost-effective cloud options exist," Johnson said.
"Already, 15 agencies have identified 950,000 e-mail boxes across 100 email systems that are going to move to the cloud," she said.
Rutrell Yasin is the senior technology editor of Government Computer News (GCN.com).