Google Suffers Cloud Setback in L.A.

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Los Angeles is delaying until 2012 the migration of email to Google’s cloud computing suite for thousands of law enforcement officials because

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    the system doesn’t currently meet security requirements — a blow for the tech titan as it battles rivals for government cloud supremacy.

    In a letter to Google’s prime contractor, CSC, Los Angeles Chief Technology Officer Randy Levin spells out the city’s offer to amend the roughly $7 million contract for a second time. The amended contract would require Google to pick up the tab for keeping roughly 13,000 law enforcement employees — ranging from cops to park rangers — working on the city’s old IT system for the next year as security issues are resolved.

    The letter from Levin, penned in August but made public this week, came in response to one sent by CSC in May informing city officials that the Google Apps for Government tool currently is “unable to meet security requirements of the city and the Los Angeles Police Department for all data and information, pursuant to U.S. DOJ Criminal Justice Information Systems policy requirements.” CSC is installing Google’s system.

    “Without completion and compliance with all city requirements, the LAPD and other law enforcement employees will be unable to migrate to Google Apps,” the letter states.

    The move amounts to a public rebuke of Google’s cloud ambitions as it battles Microsoft to win cloud contracts at every level of government — from Washington to statehouses and city councils.

    Opponents pounced on the letter.

    Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, in a letter Tuesday, pressed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to disclose the “extent to which Google has failed to comply with its contractual obligations.’

    “While the City has kept Google’s breaches of its contract quiet, the Internet giant has held Los Angeles out as a model for securing municipal, state and governmental agencies based on the false promise that it could satisfy the needs of the second largest city in America,” the letter reads.

    City officials did not return a request for comment.

    Google shrugged off the Consumer Watchdog letter as a “press stunt from a group that admits to working closely with our competitors.” Google also emphasized that Los Angeles renewed its contract for the remaining LAPD employees yet to migrate to the cloud, despite pending issues.

    “The city has acknowledged Google Apps is more secure than its current system,” the company said in a statement. “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 city in 2009 chose Google over Microsoft for the estimated $7.25 million contract to migrate a total of 30,000 city employees to the cloud for email. Some 17,000 employees have been moved to Google’s cloud so far. Cloud security requirements are stricter for law enforcement agencies.

    The city amended the contract in August 2010 after Google missed a deadline to fully implement the system because of security concerns associated with the migration.

    Google and CSC were required to reimburse the city for keeping the remaining city employees on its old IT system through June of this year.

    The second amendment to the contract requires Google to pay for the police and several other agencies to stay on the city’s Novell GroupWise system until November 2012.

    The Los Angeles City Council still has to vote to approve the second amendment.

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