In L.A., Google Blowing Big Cloud Marketing Chance
Updated: As Google stumbles again in its Gmail deal with the City of Los Angeles, analysts say it's botching a giant cloud marketing opportunity. Will it make the same mistakes Netscape did in its bid to woo customers away from Microsoft?
Tue, July 27, 2010
CIO — Google just can't seem to get it right in the City of Angels.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Google missed the June 30 deadline for its closely-watched contract to move the City of Los Angeles' e-mail system over to Gmail from its current Novell (NOVL) Groupwise e-mail platform.
The main point of contention for Google is the Los Angeles police department, which has strict guidelines around data encryption and data segregation.
In a meeting with city council members, according to the L.A. Times, LAPD CIO Maggie Goodrich said that the department's security requirements have not been met.
When asked by a city council member which party is to blame, Goodrich replied: "In my opinion, it was Google that didn't deliver the security requirements."
Google's missed deadline comes on the heels of a leaked inter-departmental letter in mid-April showing that performance issues with the Google implementation were frustrating users of L.A.'s pilot testing program.
Rather ironically, this week's news comes on the same week that Google announced it is launching Google Apps for Government, versions of Google Apps with specific measures that address the policy and security needs of the public sector.
Google spokesperson Andrew Kovacs defended Google's work with the City of L.A., saying that the city's move to the cloud is the first of its kind and that more than 10,000 city employees are already using Google Apps for Government. Google projects that the move to Google Apps will save Los Angeles taxpayers $5.5 million in cost savings.
"It's not surprising that such a large government initiative would hit a few speed bumps along the way," says Kovacs. "We're working closely with CSC [the solution provider helping Google with the implementation] and the City to address security requirements that were not included in the original contract, and in the meantime keeping public safety officials on the City's current technology for a few more months in a manner that results in no additional payments by the City."
Yet the City of Los Angeles' bumpy attempt to "Go Google" remains a public relations predicament for the search king. L.A. defied convention by choosing Google over Microsoft Outlook even after Microsoft (MSFT) lobbied aggressively for the bid. It also serves as an example for other government agencies that are considering a cloud computing model for e-mail and productivity applications.