GSA Goes Google With Help from Unisys, Tempus Nova

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

The U.S. General Services Administration has moved more than 17,000 employees and contractors to the Google Apps for Government platform in just six months with the help of two partners.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has become the first federal government agency to shifts its more than 17,000 employees and contractors to the cloud by adopting the Google Apps for Government platform.

The federal agency migrated its employees and contractors to Google Apps in a six-month period, and it just announced the completion of that migration, with the help of partners Unisys and Tempus Nova.

When the GSA made the decision to switch to Google Apps six months ago, it was clear the government agency had truly embraced the cloud, with GSA Administrator Martha Johnson being quoted as saying "work is what you do, not where you" (so very true in this increasingly virtual world).

With an eye towards improving customer service and communication (both internal and external), the GSA is using Google Apps in a collaborative fashion. Basically, employees are able to collaborate faster with each other, customers and industry partners to find solutions to problems faster. Of course, putting everything in the cloud also means that employees can work remotely much more easily.

According to a post at the Official Google Enterprise Blog by Dan Israel of the Google Apps for Government team, "GSA expects the introduction of Google Apps to help the agency transform its business and provide better results for its customers by promoting clearer communication and better team collaboration. What’s more, GSA projects that moving to Google Apps will lower email costs by 50 percent, a savings of $15 million over five years."

Johnson’s own blog post on the topic of the migration to the cloud noted that Google Apps will save taxpayers millions of dollars just in email operations savings. Much of the reason for these savings comes from "a decrease in the number of costly data centers requiring hardware, software licenses, maintenance, and contractor support," Johnson wrote.

Cloud-based calendaring is also playing a role in the new GSA work environment, but considering the migration only based on Google’s email and calendaring systems is really only the beginning, according to the Google blog post. Migrating to the cloud enables a new way for GSA employees to work. Hundreds of GSA employees that volunteered to be early adopters used a Google Site to educate others about Google Apps using Google-hosted recorded training videos. They’ve been using Google Docs for timely collaboration. Additionally, the GSA employees also adopted Google Chrome for Business for faster and more secure access to Google Apps.

The GSA is the first federal agency to successfully migrate to the cloud, but it’s far from the only one with its eyes on the cloud. The Obama Administration’s "cloud first" strategy has challenged federal agencies to identify and migrate three IT capabilities to the cloud within 18 months (an initiative originally announced in November 2010, so the clock has been running for awhile).

According to Johnson’s post, 15 agencies have already identified 950,000 email boxes over 100 email systems to migrate to the cloud. Unsurprisingly, the first IT system to be targeted for migration to the cloud is email. Seeing as the GSA has already completed its transition, it plans to help others shift their email systems to the cloud.