But L.A. is a large city government, with more than 40 departments and 30,000 users. City officials believe they will save more than $5 million over the life of their five-year contract, and that ROI could be $20 million counting increased productivity. Coincidentally, $1.5 million of the project cost will be paid indirectly by Microsoft, which had to give Los Angeles money as part of a settlement for a class-action lawsuit that alleged Microsoft overcharged for software.
Google Apps, including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar, have been rolled out to 3,700 users so far. Levin expects to be fully implemented by the end of June, with 100% of users on Gmail, and about 80% using Google's other office products. Google's non-email tools are not quite rich enough yet to completely replace Microsoft Excel and other types of in-house software. (See related story, "Google Apps basics".)
"Most of the users are very satisfied [with Google], and they're liking a lot of the new http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/041210-google-hosts-400-cios-updat... ">functionality we're getting that we didn't have before," Levin says.
Workers have increased mobility, with access to e-mail and office tools on their mobile phones, Levin says. Workers also have greater ability to edit shared documents, and video chat is allowing some people to hold virtual meetings, rather than driving into City Hall.
Some office workers are still using Microsoft Excel instead of Google Docs, partly because Google doesn't support macros. L.A. also still uses Microsoft Access, Visio, and to a limited extent SharePoint, but for most city employees the basic functionality of Google Apps is enough. Levin and her team used Google spreadsheets to create their budget this year.
"It was wonderful to all be working on the same document at the same time," Levin says.
Not surprisingly, security was the biggest concern about moving e-mail and office applications over to Google's data centers, particularly as an early adopter. "There were not a lot of organizations to look to that had done this already," Levin said.
A city councilman and police union questioned the plan, saying they were worried about the risk of disclosing sensitive data. But the City Council eventually approved use of Google Apps by unanimous vote.
L.A. officials were convinced by Google's security credentials, which includes SAS 70 certification, as well as plans to build a government cloud network tailored to the specific requirements of public agencies.