In July 2011 GSA completed the agency's migration of more than 17,000 employees to Google Apps for Government. This installs cloud-based email and collaboration. Google is now offering its own Collaborative Office Solutions to other agencies to migrate the existing in-house email systems to the cloud. GSA should see a 50% cost savings over the next five years compared with the costs it incurred for the staff, infrastructure, and support of the in-house system.
The key to the GSA migration is the FISMA compliance certification of the Google Apps Premier environment. GSA has also added additional controls in order to meet requirements requested by government agencies.
Cloud computing across the federal government is ramping up thanks to a "cloud first" policy instituted by outgoing U.S. CIO last December. Email and collaboration appear to be the fastest path to cloud computing, as it's one of the first systems deemed cloud-friendly.
Meanwhile the Army chose a private cloud, provided by Microsoft, hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency. The Navy’s ten billion NGEN acquisition has been placed on a temporary hold until this matter is settled.
Congress, in legislation just passed, does not accept Army’s plans for moving email to a Microsoft cloud. CIOs will have start making competitive choices between Office 365 and primarily the Google Apps for Business. Whatever the choice, it will be a ten year commitments.
Office 365 combines the email, calendar, tasks, and contacts functionality of Exchange with the document sharing and team collaboration of SharePoint, and the instant messaging, videoconferencing, and meeting capabilities. It is a system that is tightly coupled to Office and hard to separate into separately upgradeable components.
Google delivers its mix of Gmail for Business, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Groups, Google Sites, and other applications entirely online. Google services have been built for Internet-connected teamwork and collaboration, which gives them an advantage. Google touts ease of use, lower cost, and frequent feature updates.
It will require updating the DoD enterprise architecture, at the OSD level, that will take the criteria of email out of the hands of Army and NGEN acquisition executives into a structure that is consistent with long-term cyber operations requirements.