Google Wins Over the City of Angels

Google AppsGoogle went a long way toward answering the naysayers of their Google Apps offering. How you ask? By winning a contract to provide e-mail and other Internet services to the City of Los Angeles. Nice get.

While winning a contract is just the first step in proving that Google is a serious threat to the stronghold of Microsoft’s software business, it’s a pretty big step. This kind of deal will be felt up and down the left coast (that’s what we East Coast folks refer to the West Coast as). Starting in the great Northwest there will be some serious Steve Ballmer hand-wringing and maybe another Bobby Knight-like chair throwing moment or two. In NoCal (the Google Plex in Mountain View in particular) there may be some Tiger Woods-like fist pumps of victory. While in SoCal it’s likely that no one outside the people who made the decision will know or care because it’s not directly about them. Different strokes for different folks, right?

Yahoo Finance tells us that while this is a victory for sure there are the typical concerns that still need to be overcome and there’s nothing like a financial penalty to overcome those issues.

The Council voted unanimously for the $7.2 million deal with contractor Computer Sciences Corp. to replace many city computer systems with the so-called Google Apps services.

An amendment added shortly before the vote makes the contract contingent on Computer Science agreeing to pay a preset penalty if a security breach occurs. The contractor’s project manager David Barber said he believed such an agreement would be reached.

The city’s police officers’ union and privacy advocates had raised security concerns over the Google contract because it places data online rather than on individual computers under the city’s direct control.

I bet dollars to donuts (there was a police officer reference after all) that Microsoft is assigning the task to someone to watch this thing like a hawk and to know just when and to what degree a security breach occurs if at all.

This particular battle could be looked back on as a game changing moment as there is an ‘out with the old and in with the new’ theme. The big loser? Novell.

The move will also end the city’s 7-year contract to use Novell Inc.’s GroupWise e-mail and record-keeping software, which city workers have complained is slow and crash-prone.

Novell senior vice president said during the Council hearing that many city departments were not using the most recent version of GroupWise and reiterated an offer to provide additional services for free.

That kind of ‘excuse based selling’ is not recommended and does not fly in today’s business world does it? My question is why weren’t they upgraded by Novell so they could at least have a shot at keeping the business? Silly me for asking such an obvious question, right?

Meanwhile back at the Plex all is good with the world.

“In our view, this can be a watershed agreement,” said Dave Girouard, president of the Google division that provides business services. “There’s a lot of cities and counties around the state and around the nation who were watching this.”

Translation? If you are a Google rep and you are talking to any of the big government agencies you better set an appointment now to make it happen in a local government near you.

So Google continues to expand far beyond the world of search. I’m not surprised are you?