In what is a pretty significant endorsement of Google's wares, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has switched over to Google Apps for Government and thus become the largest government agency in the United States to adopt cloud-based email service.
The announcement was made yesterday in the Official Google Enterprise Blog. As explained by Kennith Jackson, the Deployment manager for Google Apps, NOAA was drawn towards Google's product because, as you may assume, many of NOAA's agents don't exactly work inside office cubicles (kinda hard to figure out what's going on out there in the seas and airspace when you're stuck behind a desk, yeah?) and need to be able to reliably access "work information on mobile devices," which Google knows a thing or two about. As Jackson explained:
The speed and ease of [NOAA] moving to Google Apps was an important factor in the agency’s decision to select Google. Moving 25,000 people to a new system is no small task. To move a group this size to a unified email platform in just six months is a remarkable achievement.
The rapid deployment resulted from a well-coordinated effort by NOAA employees, prime contractor ERT Inc., and Google partners Unisys and Tempus Nova. NOAA issued a request for proposals in January 2011 and made the award to ERT in June. The team put in place an aggressive schedule to have the system implemented by December and delivered on the plan. NOAA staff now have a set of modern tools like instant messaging, video chat, and real-time, multi-user document collaboration to help the people of NOAA work together more effectively. What’s more, NOAA estimates the cost to the taxpayer is approximately 50% less than developing a solution in-house.
It remains to be seen if other government agencies of any level will follow the lead of NOAA as the year stretches on. It's kinda hard not to expect that at least a few more will jump aboard given NOAA's adoption of Google Apps is a pretty stellar testimonial to what Google has to offer.