John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Certification Came Quickly After One-Click Access to WikiLeaks Was Removed

googleapps“The U.S. government is probably the largest enterprise I know of,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said last year. And soon it will be one of Google’s largest customers as well, if the company has its way.

At an event at its Mountain View headquarters this morning, Google (GOOG) announced Google Apps for Government, the first cloud application suite to be certified for government use, the company claims. Identical to the service’s premier edition, Google Apps for Government has been authorized to operate at the FISMA-Moderate level, meaning it is government-certified to handle “sensitive but unclassified” information, a designation given to the bulk of government documents and communications.

“Government has an enormous opportunity to leverage the Web as a platform,” said Dave Girouard, president of Google’s Enterprise division. “IT is a massive part of the government spend each year. It’s where a lot of our tax dollars go. In these days of shrinking budgets and lower tax receipts, cloud computing offers a great opportunity to create a more effective and responsive government.”

Girouard’s point: The cloud-computing paradigm, with its utility model, lack of upfront licensing fees and low ongoing operational costs are almost tailor-made for agencies tethered to costly, difficult-to-manage legacy systems. As CEO Eric Schmidt explained, “If you think about government services, almost all of them are well suited for Web apps. The fact of that matter is that things like renewing your driver’s license, requesting a copy of you birth certificate are all perfectly suited to Web services.”

But only with the proper security. To that end, Google says it has built a segregated infrastructure exclusively for Apps for Government and that any customer data it stores will be located in the United States only. Federal security certification came through last Thursday. “We view trust as the ultimate hurdle for cloud computing and we want to be the first to overcome it,” said Girouard.

And then?

Claim as much of the market as it can. “We’re quite committed to enterprise and cloud computing,” Schmidt said. “And it’s sort of an open field now. For the past 20 years vendors have really controlled the way enterprise software was delivered and there as a lot of lock-in. With cloud computing there’s sort of a jump ball and we have a chance to rethink that….We have a hot product and what we’re doing is knocking down barriers to adoption.” Among the earliest government adopters are the state of Colorado and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work