Less than a year ago I wrote about a new venture that Internet giant Google was embarking on. After years of developing well-known and highly used and trusted communications and collaboration platforms for individuals like you and me, the company was working on making Google Apps – the suite of Google products built around the concept of putting businesses in control of their own branded Google-based collaboration tools – that was specifically tailored for government organizations. Many, myself included, saw this move as a very clever venture to take on a customer-base of massive proportions. After all, anyone who works in any industry will tell you that the government is as close to a perfect client as you can get.
But after last year, we haven’t really heard about Google actually taking on the “cloud” communications or collaboration needs of any government agencies. This week, though, this all changed with the press release that the state of Wyoming – that is, the entire executive branch of the state government has officially gone online with “Google Apps for Government”, dumping their old and outdated in-house systems.
Understandably, the state opted to partner with Google for the same reason that many organizations and enterprises go the same route. Cost. Despite having invested five million dollars in the the switch-over thus far, the chief technology officer of the state, Flint Waters, has been put on the record saying one million dollars is a “very, very conservative” estimation of what the state will save by out-sourcing their communications infrastructure to Google.
Even though I’m not really on edge about Google becoming as intimately involved with government work, I can easily see where some people are going to be. After all, when you look at things from a larger picture the Wyoming state government has allowed a data mining company to manage vast amounts of what is sure to be somewhat sensitive information. To many, this is the equivalent of handing a wild fox a basket full of hens and expecting the fox not to eat said animals.
However, like I said earlier, government is big business for any company. For this reason I’m confident that Google will be professional with how they handle data as not doing so would ultimately ruin their image and slaughter any chances they would have at obtaining more government contracts down the road.
I’m also very interested to see how things with Wyoming work out in whole, as this will be a general indicator as to how many more government contracts Google will be able to get their hands on.
All in all, I think this is a pretty fair decision for the state of Wyoming. There’s no denying the fact that states are desperate to cut costs these days, and with all of the work that Google has done this far it makes perfect sense that Wyoming would take advantage of Google’s offerings.
What do you think? Is this a wise move? Is the savings worth the loss of control for the state? Are you worried about privacy? Let us know in the comments!