Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Conrad Cross, CIO of the City of Orlando, Florida. In November, the city announced it had Gone Google. Last month Orlando became one of the first cities in America to switch all of its employees to Gmail. Cross has been CIO at the City of Orlando since December of 1999 and has been leading the Google Apps deployment that took only two months and is resulting in more than 60% savings.

Join Conrad for a
live webcast on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. PDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 7:00 p.m. GMT. He'll talk about moving 3,000 city employees to Google Apps. Please note that registration will occur on a third party site.

Like many city departments, the City of Orlando is facing an aging infrastructure juxtaposed with budget cuts and high demand for more advanced infrastructure services such as mobile access to email. We were using a Lotus Notes® email system and paying for numerous servers in City Hall, so we needed to find a different way of doing business.

This situation was all exacerbated by the fact that our IT department was recently whittled down from 84 workers to 69 this year. We determined after analyzing Google Apps that we could achieve significant savings and move into the cloud very quickly.

If we were to keep our current system, we estimated it would cost $133 a year for each of its 3,000 employees – or $399,000 including annual software licenses. Google charges $50 per user, or $150,000 delivering more than 60% in savings. In return, everyone from city planners to police officers will now use a web-based email system similar to Google's popular Gmail, but without the advertisements that support the free consumer version.

Google servers will store all city email and run the application, and Google technicians in Google data centers will make sure it runs smoothly. Google will also help us more securely host records such as sensitive law-enforcement and legal documents by mustering greater resources and expertise than we could on our own.

After considering the cost and feature advantages, we made the decision to move to Google Apps. We were able to move to Google Apps in less than 60 days, a major accomplishment. When the mayor cornered me in the hallway, I was nervous – but then he told me how excited and supportive he was about the switch. We're now on board with Google Apps and we don't have to worry about constant upgrades or implementing new innovations, and the cost-savings we're achieving are impressive.

My message for other city governments is: do the analysis and determine what your costs are. If the savings are compelling, then move quickly - you'll see the move into the cloud is relatively fast and painless—and ultimately very cost-effective.

We’re eager to share our experiences about the nuances involving our transition to Google Apps, including what the main concerns were across the city in making the move and how we address them.

Please join us for this live event:

City of Orlando Cuts Costs by Over 66% by Moving Email and Apps into the Cloud
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
11:00 a.m. PDT / 2:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 p.m. GMT

Posted by Serena Satyasai, Google Apps team

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