Posted by Patrick Ryan, Policy Counsel, Open Internet

Last year, we were excited about the effort initiated by the U.S. government to promote cloud adoption through the Cloud First initiative. Through this initiative, the federal government declared that taxpayers' money should be used in a more productive way, and having the government run its own data centers (more than 2,000 of them) didn't make sense. They’ve targeted the shutdown of more than 1,000 in what they call their “year of change in federal IT,” saving more than $2 billion in taxpayer money. Through leading by example, the federal government went Google with several large agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Government Services Agency (GSA). They join other public entities like the states of Wyoming, and Utah, Washington DC, and the cities of Orlando and Pittsburgh. Also, quasi-public entities have embraced Google Apps, including more than 61 of the top 100 U.S. universities.

In 2012, we hope to see the same movement in Europe. On January 26th, the European Commission's Vice President Neelie Kroes announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos the European Cloud Partnership, and they're backing it with an investment of 10 million EUR to create "a strong common basis for cloud procurement by public authorities." Commissioner Kroes also addressed many of the concerns about local clouds in a decisive way:

“There is one thing that does not make sense and I want to be clear about it: The Cloud Partnership, and indeed our overall Cloud Computing strategy, is not about building a European super-cloud, neither outright nor by forcing the integration of existing public cloud infrastructures. Cloud business models, and the set-up of cloud suppliers' and publicly-run data centres, should be determined by efficiency considerations on the market.”

We believe that the European Cloud Partnership will be a positive thing for public authorities, not just in Europe, but around the world. According to recent studies, the Internet already accounts on average for 3.4% of GDP in a group of 13 emerging and developed economies, helps to spur economic growth and initiatives like this will help to promote its positive economic impact further.


(Cross-posted from the Google Chrome Blog.)

Editor's note: We’re posting from sunny Orlando, where we’re chatting with schools at the annual FETC ed-tech conference. We wanted to share highlights from our keynote this morning, which featured a panel moderated by Tom Vander Ark, author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World. You can watch a replay of the keynote on YouTube. If you’re in town, come visit us at our booth #1101 - we’d love to say hi!

When we first conceived of Chromebooks, we were focused on providing a device that brought you to the web in the fastest, simplest and securest way possible. What we didn't realize at the time was that this device would be so welcome and popular in classrooms! Many schools are eager to improve access to the web and technology for students and are planning to provide each student with their own device – a concept known as "1-to-1" computing. We've heard from our customers that they choose Chromebooks for 1-to-1 because the simplicity of the web takes away the hassle for teachers, students and administrators.

During our keynote at FETC this morning, we had the opportunity to share some exciting news: hundreds of schools in 41 states across the U.S. are using one or more classroom sets of Chromebooks today. As a highlight, three new school districts in Iowa, Illinois and South Carolina are going 1-to-1 – that is, one Chromebook each for nearly 27,000 students.
  • Council Bluffs Community School District in Iowa is planning a Chromebook 1:1 Initiative for all 2,800 students in their two high schools and will use an additional 1500 Chomebooks in their two middle schools
  • Leyden Community High School District in Illinois will roll out devices to 3,500 students in their two high schools
  • Richland School District Two in South Carolina is going 1-to-1 with a total of 19,000 students

It's great to see this positive momentum for Chromebooks in classrooms. It's similar to where we were about five years ago when Google Apps was just getting off the ground. At that time, educational institutions were the most interested and it was inspiring to hear the different ways schools and districts had begun using Gmail, Calendar and Docs. At FETC we’ve been similarly excited to see how teachers have formed communities around professional development for Chromebooks, districts all across the US are piloting Chromebooks in their classrooms, and more and more reach out to us to learn about Chromebooks for Education every day. We believe Chromebooks and the web have the ability to facilitate learning in a powerful way, and we’re committed to helping schools recognize their goals to go 1-to-1.

But enough words from us. We’d like to close with thoughts from representatives of each of these school districts.

“From my perspective, Chromebooks couldn’t get any simpler; setting up this many laptops would have typically taken our team at least 3 months. And from the instructional side, we are teaching content not technology, and Chromebooks simply support teachers in what they do best while giving students the resources they need to be productive citizens. As just one example the quality of work that students turn in has improved literally overnight - from incomplete sentences to full paragraphs, in some cases - because they are much more engaged and participating readily in class.”
David Fringer, executive director, information systems at Council Bluffs Community school district, Iowa

“When we started on our digital evolution path we were looking for just the right tool - one that is invisible and gets out of the way to allow students and teachers to focus on instruction. With Chromebooks our students are publishing, producing and sharing with each other, and best of all, we don’t have to assign students a particular device number. Any student can use any device because all their work is saved online - for that matter they could access their work from home while logged in from the Chrome browser.”
Bryan Weinert, director of technology at Leyden school district, Illinois

Student at East Leyden high school selects a Chromebook from the charging cart. With Chromebooks, students can work on any device in any class period and access their work from anywhere - including from the Chrome browser installed on a home computer.

“Chromebooks make our 1-to-1 computing dream a reality. Teachers don't need to add ‘help desk’ to their job description, and they save valuable class time knowing they can instruct students to close the Chromebooks to stay on task and they won't have to wait when it’s time to open them again. Furthermore, we’ve seen that any behavior issues become an absolute non-issue because the technology is so compelling.”
Tom Cranmer, executive director of information technology, Richland School District Two, South Carolina

Fifth grade student teaches a younger student how to use a Chromebook in the Chrome Buddy project in Tim Swick's classroom at Pontiac Elementary School in Richland School District Two.

Learn more about Chromebooks for Education on our website, and join us for the Chromebook Classroom webinar series, Wednesdays at 9AM PT/12PM ET.


(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog and the Google Green Blog.)

For the last year, our data center team has been working on a project to bring our facilities to even higher standards for environmental management and workforce safety. Recently we got the good news that our work paid off.

All of our U.S. owned and operated data centers have received ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. We’re the first major Internet services company to gain external certification for those high standards at all of our U.S. data centers.

In a nutshell, both standards are built around a very simple concept: Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say—and then keep improving. The standards say what key elements are required, but not how to do it—that part’s up to us. So we set some challenging goals for ourselves, and we asked our auditors to confirm that we’ve followed through on them.

Here’s an example of the kind of improvements we’ve implemented: Like most data centers, ours have emergency backup generators on hand to keep things up and running in case of a power outage. To reduce the environmental impact of these generators, we’ve done two things: first, we minimized the amount of run time and need for maintenance of those generators. Second, we worked with the oil and generator manufacturers to extend the lifetime between oil changes. So far we’ve managed to reduce our oil consumption in those generators by 67 percent.

A second example: each of our servers in the data center has a battery on board to eliminate any interruptions to our power supply. To ensure the safety of the environment and our workers, we devised a system to make sure we handle, package, ship and recycle every single battery properly.

These are just two elements of what ultimately adds up to a comprehensive system of policies that our data center teams follow in their day-to-day operations. We do this because we want to be the gold standard in environmental and workforce safety, and because we care about the communities where we live and work. This is one more reason you can feel confident that when you're using our products, you're making an environmentally responsible choice.

Our data centers in the following U.S. locations have received this dual certification. We plan to pursue certification in our European data centers as well.

  • The Dalles, Ore.

  • Council Bluffs, Iowa

  • Mayes County, Okla.

  • Lenoir, N.C.

  • Monck’s Corner, S.C.

  • Douglas County, Ga.


(Cross-posted from the Google App Engine blog)

Happy New Year! As we return from our New Year's celebrations, brush the dust off our workstations and gear up for our first release of 2012, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at improvements we have made and what developers have accomplished with App Engine in 2011.

Let’s start with the features and functionality we added last year:
Best of all, with your continued support we accomplished our goal of graduating from preview and became a full fledged Google product.

We’ve seen excellent growth and adoption over the past year, with businesses like Pulse, Evite and Best Buy choosing App Engine for their applications. Even St. James’s Palace chose App Engine to host the Royal Wedding site. We had so much fun collaborating with 17 of the world’s most renowned museums for the Google Art Project and with other Googlers building iGoogle gadgets and Doodles on App Engine. We’ve added more than 1 million registered applications and have more than 150,000 active developers on the App Engine platform generating more than 5 billion page hits per day.

Back in our first blog post in 2008, we asked you to “start your engines” and what a ride we’ve taken. Thank you for making 2011 our best year yet and here’s to making 2012 even better!


Nestled in the mountains and valleys, the State of Utah got its name from the Native American “Ute” tribe, which means people of the mountains. Utah’s peaks, on average, are the tallest in the country. Utah also has a vibrant business climate. The state was recently ranked No.1 for business and career by Forbes. It’s committed to building a strong economy for the future. To achieve that goal, the state government relies on cutting edge technologies and services to bring value and innovation to its constituents.

The State of Utah recently selected Google Apps for Government as its new email and collaboration platform for all 22,000 state employees. This makes Utah the second state to move all state employees to the Google cloud. The contract is available to all branches of state government and local government entities.

Information technology consolidation has long been a top priority for Utah to improve accountability, reduce costs, and increase services to taxpayers. Its legacy email system was unable to keep up with the increasing demand from staff to access information anytime and anywhere. The Department of Technology Services (DTS) started looking for a cloud solution that could address those challenges in 2010. Through a comprehensive and competitive bidding process, DTS received six proposals. Google Apps premier reseller and implementation partner Tempus Nova was selected to bring Google Apps to state employees.

Once the migration is complete later this year, all Utah state employees will use Google Apps, which includes new features and capabilities such as video chats, real-time team editing in Google Docs and mobile support. Moving to the cloud will also reduce employees’ requests for IT support. In addition, Google Apps will provide Utah with increased security to comply with all FISMA requirements and a more efficient way to comply with government eDiscovery requirements.

We welcome the State’s decision to move to the cloud and look forward to working with Utah and Tempus Nova to ensure a smooth transition.


Posted by Adam Dawes, Gmail Product Manager

Last year, we started integrating Postini’s business-class email security and management capabilities into Gmail and today we’re excited to be rolling out the latest round of integrated features. Google Apps administrators can now take advantage of improved email compliance footers, approved/blocked sender lists and file attachment policies. These capabilities help our customers address compliance requirements and effectively manage email traffic. Previously, Google Apps customers used Google Message Security, powered by Postini, to provide these capabilities.

With this new release, we’ve improved these features and designed them specifically to meet the needs of our Apps customers. Admins will manage the features natively in the Google Apps control panel (localized in 28 languages), leverage our granular policy framework to customize settings for different types of users, and join multiple rules together to address very targeted use cases.

These new features are available globally for Google Apps for Business, Google Apps for Government and Google Apps for Education editions.

Dominie Liang, IT Director at New Media Group in Hong Kong, was able to use the new features to quickly address his company’s compliance requirements:

"Our legal team wanted us to add a compliance note to all of our outbound email. Thanks to Google's new email feature set, we could easily add the rich text format disclaimer with Chinese characters to the email footer, and solved the issue within a minute."

George Krieger, Technical Services Manager, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, adds:

"The new message footers in Gmail have made it easy for us to standardize our email signatures and more effectively promote our race schedules. And I love the ability to delegate control of these to our Media department so they can change them when they want without having to call me. This is a major improvement for us."

With the addition of these features to Gmail, there is no longer a need to use Google Message Security (GMS) with Google Apps so we will no longer offer GMS to Google Apps customers. We’ll work with those customers currently using GMS to migrate their settings to these new features. For more information on these features and how customers can migrate to them please refer to this Google Apps Help Center article and the Transition Guide.


Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Jay DeCoons, COO of YogaWorks. Renowned for its excellence in classroom instruction and teacher training, YogaWorks delivers yoga training and classes in 60 cities around the world. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map.

At YogaWorks, we first and foremost consider ourselves to be educators of yoga. Since opening our first location in 1987, we’ve expanded our reach across the world, which means we’ve had to figure out how to effectively scale a growing organization while continuing to deliver the best training instruction possible. When we first took a look at Google Apps, we thought it would be a great cost savings tool but as we’ve discovered, Google Apps has also allowed us to easily and flexibly connect our business throughout the world.

Prior to Google Apps, we used a hosted Microsoft Exchange server. While on Exchange, we had to set a 2 gigabyte inbox quota and had difficulty achieving a simple, scalable email deployment for our staff’s mobile devices. We also had a lot of offline processes that were cluttering the operations of our studio managers and producing a lot of excess paperwork, which ran counter to our goal of running a sustainable and eco-friendly company. At the time, our IT costs were roughly $130 per user per year.

When we were evaluating Google Apps, we realized that the solution would allow us to further our green-friendly mission by reducing our overall environmental footprint and would enable us to create a truly mobile workforce with anytime, anywhere data access. We also saw the potential Google Apps held for collaboration among team members, with its unique communication and sharing capabilities.

We went Google with the help of Google Apps Authorized Reseller Dito, who assisted us in setting up Apps and training our team. With Google Apps, we’ve been able to reduce our total IT costs by over 60%. The ability to share documents and reach out to teammates quickly has boosted the morale and sense of community across our team. Mobility has also been a key gain for us, as Google Apps allows us to work seamlessly while on the go across our 24 studios and 60 cities where we hold teacher trainings. Through Google Docs, we have been able to save paper and eliminate tedious offline processes, making our day-to-day operation more environmentally-friendly and efficient.

Google Apps has helped us create a more efficient, more excited and more productive workforce, which in turn has helped us focus on what we care most about: bringing safe, compassionate and skillful teaching of yoga to all.


Editors note: Today, our guest blogger is José Olalla (@PepeOlalla), CIO at BBVA. BBVA is one of the largest financial institutions in the world who today have announced they are adopting Google Apps for Business to increase productivity and drive innovation.

BBVA is a customer-centric global financial services group founded in Spain in 1857. We now have over 110,000 employees in more than 30 countries across the world.

At BBVA we see technology as a key sustainable competitive advantage, and staying at the forefront of technology and business practices is key to our success. Today we’ve announced that we’re migrating our business to Google Apps to increase efficiency and to help our teams to collaborate more easily, regardless of location.

We were looking for a technology that would transform our business operations - not just make our workers more efficient. Integrating the Google Apps for Business suite with our own tools will allow us to introduce a new way of working where employees have access to all the information they need with just one click, no matter where they are or what kind of device they use, and can reap the benefits of using advanced collaboration tools.

We will migrate our old email systems to the cloud with Gmail. Google Talk, Google Sites and Google Docs will allow our teams to communicate and share ideas more easily - working in a way that they have never experienced before.

With Google Docs, for example, we’re excited about the real-time collaboration benefits - and we expect to increase productivity by removing the need to constantly update different versions of a document. We are developing our new global intranet (we call it High Performance Desktop) taking advantage of Google’s collaboration tools, changing it from a corporate communications and process management site to a place where all employees will be able to share, contribute and manage knowledge globally.

The roll-out of Google Apps will be staggered, with more than 35,000 BBVA workers in Spain initially using the Google Apps productivity tools. By the end of 2012 we expect to have migrated 110,000 employees across our global network.


Editors note: Today our guest blogger is Jason Kirkland, Technology Projects Manager for the City of Lewisville, Texas. Jason is recognized by Google as a Government Transformer for his innovative usage of technology to improve information sharing among city staff.

As part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, the City of Lewisville in Texas offers a small community atmosphere with all of the urban amenities. We are always looking for ways to improve our community and the lives of the people who call Lewisville home.

The City is constantly evaluating its IT infrastructure and services to increase efficiency and effectiveness and reduce costs. One area of focus was email and calendar which were provided to our users via Lotus Notes along with a separate Blackberry server to sync mobile devices. After a thorough analysis of cloud-based solutions from various providers, we decided to migrate to Google Apps for Government. The migration not only reduced costs in software license and server maintenance, it also brought robust functionalities for our staff to collaborate better and be more productive. Employees automatically access the most current version of Google Apps, eliminating the need for software patching and upgrades. There is no more confusion caused by the various versions of software people are using. They are also able to gain mobile access to emails, calendars, and documents from virtually anywhere with Internet access.

Google Apps is also more reliable and customizable than the other cloud solutions we evaluated. It provides API access for our developers to harness and integrate with other internal systems. I created an online GIS Map using Google Spreadsheets, Google Maps, and Google Fusion Tables that allowed us to turn a static paper map into an electronic one that is interactive and easy to use. The City is even using Google Video to store and share footage of our water and sewer systems so that we can easily access and analyze this data. For less money than what we previously paid for system maintenance alone, we get much more than just an email and calendar replacement!

Google Apps implementation partner Cloud Sherpas made our migration a smooth process. During a two-week period, we migrated all of our 644 users from Lotus Notes to Google Apps.

The examples above are few of many, and surely more will come as our city continues to use Google’s products to simplify processes from project management to police dispatch. I am honored that Google recognized me as a Government Transformer. With the right tools, my colleagues and I can collaborate and communicate more effectively and efficiently than ever before.


Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Patrick Liew, CEO of HSR Property Group, the leading real estate company in Singapore, with more than 2,000 agents. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Any large real estate company like HSR has to respond quickly to customer requests and market changes to stay competitive. Our agents are constantly out of their offices and showing properties. Their main access to email is via their tablets and smartphones. This isn’t really surprising, since smartphone use in Singapore is more than three times the global average.

Because mobility is so critical in our industry, it was important for us to find a solution that enabled access from any device. Our old email system also caused a lot of storage and performance bottlenecks. We wanted quicker, simpler access and easier ways to collaborate with each other and our clients. Google Apps was a good fit for our IT priorities and our business. From an IT-management perspective, Google Apps was intuitive for our users, scalable, and easy to manage.

Google Apps has helped HSR improve information flow and collaboration, leading to better engagement with our agents. We now use Google Sites to create intranets that provide our widely scattered agents with information on pipelines, co-broker opportunities, and training. Dashboards on these sites help us gauge each team's performance. Google Sites also allows us to share floor plans, maps, pricing, availability, and other real estate data, both internally and with clients. Google Docs serves as a company memo and lets colleagues update each other quickly on events, listings, and other important information. We track training sessions with Google Calendar, and share training content and attendance records with Google Docs.

We love Google Apps’ security features and cloud-based delivery, too. If an agent loses a phone in the morning, the data can be wiped remotely, and then—since contact information and other data are stored in the cloud—the agent can be up and running on another phone by noon. New government regulations also require real estate agents in Singapore to retain originals or copies of certain documents for at least three years. Google Apps provides simple archiving, and we now handle data retention through Google Postini.

Everyone at HSR is synchronized these days with Google Apps. We run our entire business using it, from selling to after-sales service. There’s no doubt—collaboration has never been made easier.


Editors note: Today Mayor Ravenstahl is announcing that almost 3,000 city employees just started using Google Apps for Government.

People love to work and live in Pittsburgh. It’s ranked America’s “Most Livable City” year after year due to a low, and decreasing, crime rate, a burgeoning arts and cultural scene, and an affordable cost of living that offers families the nation’s largest scholarship program for public school students. Pittsburgh also has a humming high-tech economy that builds off of our manufacturing past. To keep our city at the forefront of innovation, my administration adopts the latest technology applications that modernize our government, while cutting costs and improving our daily operations.

I am pleased to announce that in about four months we successfully retired our Microsoft Exchange 2003 email system and moved almost all 3,000 city employees to Google Apps for Government. This move will save us 25 percent or more in annual email support costs and allow us to deliver better services to our residents. Our employees are working more efficiently because they have 500 times more email storage and no longer need to waste time emptying their inboxes. We’re also able to capture and index all employees’ email and attachments in one centralized and searchable repository, which helps us meet e-discovery needs much more efficiently.

Since 40 percent of our employees already have personal Gmail accounts, the migration went smoothly with the help of Google implementation partner, Daston Corporation. Our employees are excited to collaborate on a single document simultaneously, and participate in video chats with each other no matter where we are. My staff is better able to address the needs of community members by creating a shared document that outlines neighborhood needs and tasks that all can reference and update.

We are also enhancing the security of our data while saving money. Our data now lives in a datacenter environment dedicated to US government entities that has been through the federal government’s FISMA certification process. “While the city still retains full ownership of our data, we can count on Google for data safety and security,” said CIO Howard A. Stern, Ph.D. who spearheaded the transition.“Our data is more secure with Google than with the previous system.”

We're grateful for Google's commitment to the tech sector in Pittsburgh, and we're proud to be using Google Apps in city government. As we kick off the New Year in the “cloud,” we look forward to exploring more ways to improve collaboration and productivity with Google Apps. We believe that this transition will help keep the City innovative.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is ringing in the new year with a new email and collaboration system for its 25,000 employees, contractors and associates. They have all successfully moved to Google Apps for Government, making NOAA the largest federal agency to complete the switch to cloud-based email and collaboration tools.

NOAA employees work with the latest technologies like environmental monitoring satellites and high-tech weather forecasting tools. Now, they have cutting-edge email and collaboration tools to match.

According to NOAA CIO Joseph Klimavicz, the speed and ease of 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.

With operations around the nation, in the air and on the sea, NOAA needed applications that work anywhere without the hassle of managing hardware in all these locations. Many members of the workforce spend time outside the office collecting data on weather, climate, oceans, and coasts. As a result, access to work information on mobile devices is critical. Google Apps allows NOAA’s scientists and staff to get their email and other information wherever their work may take them.

We welcome NOAA as the latest -- and largest -- in a string of government agencies from Wyoming to the General Services Administration to Des Moines, Iowa that switched to Google Apps in 2011. We look forward to welcoming many others in 2012.