Agencies showing more interest in Google Apps

Israel said federal agencies of all sizes have expressed interest in deploying Google Apps, a cloud-based suite of software applications that includes the popular Gmail, Google Calendar, the collaboration program Google Docs and voice and video chat services. 

Israel said Google cannot discuss negotations with some of the larger agencies, but smaller federal offices that have adopted Google Apps include the humanitarian branch of the Navy and the University of California's Berkeley Laboratory. To meet that growing demand, the firm has increased its federal sales team by a third.

To address the common questions regarding security and privacy, Israel detailed a number of changes to Google Apps for government that differs from the consumer version. For example, the government portion is run on a separate, private cloud that is given additional physical and network security at Google's multiple data centers.

Google has also committed to maintaining its FISMA certification for the length of all contracts signed, ensuring agencies will remain in compliance with federal security requirements without requiring additional personnel or expense. A separate unit known as the "Data Liberation Front" within the company works to ensure individuals or organizations that stop using Google's services are still able to freely access their data and port it to another software application.

One of the main benefits of Google Apps or other cloud-based services — as opposed to agencies' legacy hardware and software — is cost; Israel cited a Brookings Institution study that found agencies generally saved between 25 and 50 percent of costs by moving applications to the cloud.