Today, we’re making it easier for larger businesses to use Google’s cloud services by announcing the Cloud Transformation Program.

With the Cloud Transformation Program, we’ve identified select Google partners that can help you get the most out of Google’s cloud services, including Google App Engine, Google Storage for Developers, Google Apps Script and Google Prediction API. Initially, Cloud Transformation Program partners will offer customized solutions in the following areas:
  • Cloud-based applications such as websites, mobile apps, social media apps, business process apps and customer-facing web apps built using Google App Engine and Google Apps Script
  • Predictive solutions such as fraud detection, customer sentiment analysis, and customer churn prediction built using Google Prediction API
  • Enterprise storage solutions such as storage for applications, data sharing and high-reliability backup built using Google Storage for Developers
Over time, we expect that partners will expand their focus as we add new cloud services.

We’re excited to have CSC, Cloud Sherpas, Cognizant, Opera Solutions, Razorfish, SADA Systems and TempusNova as our initial Cloud Transformation Program partners. These partners all have deep expertise and a proven track record of success helping businesses make the most of their IT investments, so we appreciate their support. To learn how you can use Google’s cloud services in your business, please contact one of our partners directly.

Posted by Jacob Jaber, President, Philz Coffee

Editor’s Note: To celebrate National Coffee Day, today’s guest blogger is Jacob Jaber, President for Philz Coffee based in California.

In the late 1970s, my father Phil experimented with coffee blending at a grocery store on the corner of Folsom and 24th in San Francisco’s Mission district. He combined beans of multiple origins and brewed them one cup at a time. Since then, “Philz Coffee” has opened up seven more locations, hired 120 employees, and garnered a very loyal following. By this time next year, we expect to have six more locations and twice the number of employees so it’s very important that our operations and systems keep up.

We decided to check out Google Apps because our old system tied us to individual computers and wasn’t user friendly. In 20 minutes I set up Google Apps, gave everyone their usernames and passwords, and our 30 managers across all store locations were instantly connected. From day one, we’ve used chat in Gmail to ask quick questions, just like we would if we were all in the same room. I can now go on any computer in the world and it feels like I’m in the office, without actually needing to be in the office.

Google Docs has been critical to how we work. We recently streamlined our supply chain operations, and it was very helpful to have all the planning notes in a doc, allowing the different branch managers to edit at the same time, in the same version. We also created different docs to improve the freshness of our coffee beans by tracking how long they stay in the warehouse. We do a lot of qualitative reporting at Philz too, so we’re creating a Docs template that will help us aggregate customer reviews, form focus categories, make priority lists, and establish timelines.

With Google Calendar, my assistant doesn’t waste time managing my schedule because it’s so easy for me to do it myself. For monthly management meetings, I can see everyone’s calendar, select a time that works, and easily change it later or send out updates to attendees via email. There’s no more back and forth—everything just happens much quicker. With Google Search built right into Gmail and Docs, I can find what I’m looking for almost instantly. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was written or read.

I know that Google Apps will innovate, grow with us, and let me focus on brewing the perfect cup of coffee. It’s good for us now, and it’ll be good for us when we have 1,000 employees, too.


Editors note: This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

We believe our customers should have lots of visibility into how we protect the data that is stored in Google Apps. And while it’s one thing for us to tell you how we protect the data, as we do in our blog posts and security white paper, it’s also helpful when independent third parties perform inspections and audits.

Cloud computing companies use the the SSAE 16 Type II audit, and its international counterpart ISAE 3402 Type II audit, to document and verify the data protections in place for their services. These auditing standards are defined by the The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), respectively. These audit standards have replaced the SAS 70 Type II audit, which Google Apps first completed in 2008. In our audits, we specify the confidentiality, integrity and availability controls that our customers are most concerned about, which are then verified by our auditors. We recently announced that we’ve successfully completed the SSAE 16 and ISAE 3204 Type II audits for Google Apps, Postini services, Google Apps Script, Google Storage for Developers and Google App Engine.

Google Apps for Government has also received Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification from the U.S. Government. The FISMA certification includes a rigorous evaluation of the security processes and data protections in place in Google Apps for Government and is required by U.S. federal government customers, who must comply with FISMA by law.

Third party audits are only part of the security and compliance benefits of Google Apps. For more information visit our Google Apps security page.


Editors note: Today our guest blogger is Dirk Marshall, IT Manager for the City of Mesquite, Nevada. We’ll hear from Dirk on the benefits the city is enjoying by migrating 180 users to Google Apps.

Situated in picturesque Clark County, Nevada, the City of Mesquite features a thriving community, seven premier golf courses, lush casino resorts and a growing population of happy retirees.

Faced with growing budget constraints, the City was ready to upgrade its aging infrastructure and reduce IT overhead costs. We were looking specifically for a better way to align our technology with the productivity needs of our employees and simplify our IT systems. We were already maintaining two networks, Microsoft and Novell GroupWise, to meet our needs. As you can imagine, the licensing and maintenance fees for two different sets of servers were quite high.

The City of Mesquite has 180 employees, all of whom rely extensively on email and calendar. For example, there is heavy calendar sharing between management and their assistants, and many departments rely on resource scheduling for conference rooms and technical properties. During our cloud technology evaluation process, we focused on finding a platform that could maintain or enhance these features. Google Apps proved to be a cost-effective suite of applications that supported our work flows.

The switch to Google Apps has been widely accepted by city employees. Compared to Novell GroupWise, email management is easier and we have improved collaboration. Employees can co-edit documents in real time from different locations using Google Docs, which greatly reduces our need to meet face-to-face for certain projects. They also benefit from being able to access applications, emails and files from their mobile devices. The city departments used to send monthly PDF reports to the Mayor and Council, but now they are using Google Sites to share department news updates and statistics in a more graphical and easily accessible way.

The Google Apps platform has been both flexible and incredibly easy to use. With the help of our Google Apps implementation partner SADA Systems, we developed custom tools to easily activate important features and calendars for new users. This allows our employees to get up to speed more quickly and start collaborating productively sooner.

In addition to realizing important cost savings, we were also able to simplify our IT infrastructure and free up IT admin resources by moving to the cloud. The tedious and time consuming email backups and data recovery processes were eliminated. We were able to get rid of our Novell-dedicated servers and reduce our on-premise server count by six. With the time and resources saved, our IT team can focus on other critical missions to better support our government.


Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Eric Hunter, Director of Knowledge Strategy and Technology at Bradford & Barthel, LLP, a mid-size law firm in Southern California. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

In the legal industry we have a concept called law2020 - the idea that technology and the economy are causing law firms to change the way they run their businesses to survive in the next decade. Technology like Google Apps and social applications are creating a culture where the legal industry is much more connected with clients and clients have much more access to information about the law. Our primary reason for investigating Google Apps back in 2009 was to start preparing our firm to keep up with this new culture of constant communication and to help employees enhance client relationships through better sharing and collaboration.

Since we migrated to Google Apps in April 2010, we’ve made collaboration much easier and more efficient through the use of Google Sites, Google Docs, and shared Google calendars. Our attorneys have found Google Apps to be intuitive and flexible. With Google Apps, constant innovation comes with the package and we’re pleased by how many new features have been introduced over the past year and a half: priority inbox, offline access and page-level permissions in Google Sites, to name a few. As part of our competitive strategy moving forward, our goal is to use Google’s video, voice, and social tools to enhance collaboration both internally and with our clients.

We use Google Sites and Docs as our intranet and portals with our clients. As a result of this improved communication, we’ve seen improved efficiency across our departments, areas of practice, and externally with our clients. Teams are collaborating directly with clients when developing new business and during trials and depositions.

As a law firm handling confidential information for our clients, Bradford & Barthel takes security extremely seriously. We’re responsible for private information on individuals and companies and our best security option is Google Apps. Google has many security features - SAS70 Type II certification and two step verification included - that allow us to feel confident our data and the data of our clients is much safer than if we hosted it on premise.

Google Apps allows Bradford & Barthel to adapt and succeed in the digital age as we move towards the year 2020. We’re continually improving our knowledge sharing and collaboration tools. We’ve already seen a lot of productivity improvements and stronger relationships with our clients, and our firm’s approach to business is evolving as we continue to realize the benefits of technology in the legal industry.


Editors note: This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

People expect their email and productivity tools to just work, and we’re very proud of the reliable services we’ve been able to give our customers. Last year, Gmail was up and running 99.984% of the time, and in the first half of 2011 we’ve delivered 99.99% availability—that’s less than 5 minutes of downtime, on average, per month.

But we aren’t perfect, so providing you with information on how our apps are performing is very important to us, and we’re committed to being transparent with you in the event that something goes wrong.

To this end, we’ve developed a new Apps Status Dashboard that we believe will give you accurate information faster. The former day-by-day design will be replaced by the new dashboard which gives a more clutter-free status with a single, continuous timeline.

The new dashboard shows only service disruptions and outages. The size of the dot will indicate the length of outage and the color will indicate the severity. The dot to the left of the service name will show the current status of the service.

When you click on one of the yellow or red dots in the timeline, you’ll see a single transcript that will display all the status messages until final resolution—even if the outage spanned more than a single day. There will now be a single URL that describes the issue and resolution for the entire outage.

As before, the dashboard is visible to everyone on the web—there’s no username or password required. We hope you’ll find this new presentation of Google Apps status to be even more accessible and useful, and please share your feedback in the comments below.


Editors note: This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

Technology failures and natural disasters can significantly impact your business. Planning for them can be cumbersome and expensive. In a typical on-premise IT environment disaster recovery often means redundant infrastructure, backup tapes or storage area networks and a lot of IT complexity. Some businesses even build and manage duplicate data centers, specifically for disaster recovery, and those data centers sit idle the majority of the time.

The effectiveness of a disaster recovery plan is commonly measured in two ways: Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). RTO measures how long before users can access systems in the event of a failure. RPO measures how much of a time gap exists when the data is restored. Businesses that have invested lots of time and money in disaster recovery preparation are typically able to set RTO and RPO goals at a few hours or less for critical systems, with the cost increasing as those timeframes decrease. For other businesses that haven’t invested at that level, RTO and RPO can stretch into hours or days. And in extreme cases, if disaster strikes, some businesses just have to start over.

Google Apps offers a better way, with robust disaster recovery capabilities built right in. Our RPO design target is zero data loss and our RTO design target is instant failover. This means that if there is a disaster or disruption that affects one of our data centers, we are able to shift users to an alternate data center, so they can can continue working uninterrupted. And while no disaster recovery solution from any provider is perfect, we are proud of the benefits our customers gain.

In the words of Mark Switalski, Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge, and Carmella Sabaugh, Macomb County Clerk:

“We know that when a disaster happens, our system will not go down and because our data is in the cloud, it is protected and accessible from anywhere. After a rare tornado hit last summer, briefly disrupting power and some network services, the clerk’s Google service remained accessible via cell phone and other networks.”

Planning for disasters is a big challenge, but with Google Apps you have fewer things to worry about. Your email and documents will be accessible so your business can continue despite the disaster. It’s one of the main reasons that businesses trust Google Apps with their data.


As a global cloud provider, we’re often asked by our customers how we protect customer data within the frameworks of local privacy laws, and in particular in the EU. Our approach, just like over 2,500 other US companies that offer services in Europe, is guided by the US - EU Safe Harbor Agreement, which is designed to ensure that transatlantic data transfers remain protected according to seven core EU-like privacy principles. In practice, for Google, Safe Harbor means our users in both Europe and the US can be sure they’re getting not just the same level of service, but also the same level of privacy protection.

You can learn more about our commitment to this legal framework from our recent European Public Policy Blog post and find additional information on what this means to your business on our data protection page.


We are pleased to announce the newest release of Google Earth Pro! Version 6.1 focuses on user experience improvements that empower professionals to make faster geographic-related business decisions.

Google Earth Pro is a simple yet powerful tool used by industry professionals all over the world. Businesses in retail, construction and insurance save travel time by inspecting, measuring and profiling land parcels before visiting the site. Many companies use Google Earth Pro’s high resolution prints for client meetings and presentations. Other companies use the Google Earth Pro import tool to overlay spreadsheet or GIS data on a map. You can read about other use cases on our customer stories page.

Real estate and insurance professionals can analyze distances more effectively with the combined Ruler and Elevation Profile tool, as shown in this measurement of San Francisco, above.

Print high-resolution screenshots with scale bar and north arrow for client meetings and presentations.

Key feature enhancements in version 6.1 include:

  • Enhanced Print Layout: Print maps and overlays in premium resolution for tactile collaboration with key stakeholders. Improved output and paper handling allow fine controls for professional-looking deliverables.

  • Simplified Movie Maker: Create professional video presentations to share with your target audience. Render saved tours as videos, or take the director’s seat and record live actions from the 3D viewer.

  • Consolidated Measurement Tool: View path length and elevation profile in one window to better understand the 3D environment surrounding your area of interest.

  • Expanded Data Styling: With 64 unique styling attributes available for each imported dataset (compared with eight in previous versions), users have greater control over the look and feel of their data.

  • Improved Networking Infrastructure: Earth Pro 6.1 offers better support for network proxies and SSL certificates commonly found in corporate networking environments, making it easier for business to use Google Earth Pro within their network security guidelines.

Click here to download the latest version of Google Earth Pro for your organization today.


Editors note: This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

We recently announced that more than 4 million businesses run on Google Apps and 5,000 more are signing up every day. Many of these business “go Google” for enhanced security features. One example is 2-step verification, an opt-in security feature that we added to Google Apps last year.

2-step verification adds an additional layer of protection to your account and significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access. With 2-step verification, you sign into your account with both your password and a one time verification code you get on your phone. You can generate the code with a mobile app (on Android, iPhone and Blackberry), or get it in an SMS text message or a voice call.

This feature helps ensure that only you can sign in to your account. It also helps protect you if your password gets stolen via phishing attempts, keyloggers or other malicious software, or from another website where you might have used the same password. Without the verification code, hackers can’t access your Google Apps account—even if they have your password.

While two-factor authentication is not a new concept, many businesses have historically struggled with deploying it due to cost, IT complexity and usability issues associated with requiring users to carry separate token generators. Google Apps includes 2-step verification at no additional cost, using existing phones to make it simple and easy to deploy. It’s available in over 40 languages and in more than 150 countries.

We also support Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)-based Single Sign-On (SSO) for businesses that already use separate authentication technologies and would like to continue using them. Google Apps for Business supports the SAML 2.0 specification and allows businesses to apply custom security features, password management policies, and their own two-factor authentication solution. This SSO capability is an alternative to the 2-step verification feature that is included with Google Apps.

Protecting your accounts with strong authentication mechanisms is a great way to help ensure your information remains safe online. If you are an existing customer, you can easily configure 2-step verification, once your administrator has enabled the feature for your domain.


Earlier this year, members of the blind community shared a powerful message with us about the importance of accessibility. On the Official Google Blog today, we announced some accessibility enhancements to our products, including new keyboard shortcuts and improved screen reader support in Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. For blind students and employees who rely on assistive technologies to access the web, we hope these improvements will make it easier to use our products.

To answer your questions and discuss how today’s product updates affect blind users in businesses, governments and schools using Google Apps, we’d like to invite our enterprise customers to join us for a webinar on September 21.

Accessibility Updates for Docs, Sites and Calendar
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
12:00pm-1:00pm PT
Sign up here

To learn more about accessibility features in Google Apps, please visit our help center. For information more generally about using Google products with screen readers, how to send us feedback and how to track our progress, visit


With frequent updates, Chromebooks automatically get better over time. During this webinar, you’ll learn about the newest business features for Chromebooks, including VPN and secure Wi-Fi (802.1X) support , as well as apps optimized for Chromebooks that make these computers even more flexible for business.

With built-in Wi-Fi and 3G, it’s rare for Chromebooks to be without internet access. However, we’ll review new offline functionalities for our apps, including the new Gmail Offline app and offline modes for Google Docs and Google Calendar that allow Chromebook users to be productive even without connectivity. And, for employees who need access to their desktop software, we’ll demo a “tech preview” of Citrix Receiver optimized for Chromebooks. If you're a Citrix customer, this app enables access to your virtualized applications right from the web browser. We’ll also include time for Q&A with Chromebook product specialists on topics of your choice.

What: Chromebook innovation - new features, offline apps and Citrix
When: Thursday, September 15, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GST
Preseners: Kevin Gough & Jeff Keltner, Chromebooks for Business team

Register now


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

Pop quiz: What’s significant about the number 61?

(a) Number of points required to win a standard game of Cribbage
(b) The country code to call Australia
(c) Number of Top 100 universities that use Google Apps for Education

As all Aussie Cribbage enthusiasts attending college in the U.S. may suspect, this is actually a trick question—all three answers are correct!

Today, U.S. News and World Report released their 28th annual ranking of the top higher-education institutions across the nation. While this list of schools represents traditions of academic excellence that span centuries, these institutions also clearly recognize the importance (and value) of modern technology in academia. We’re thrilled that 61 of this year’s top 100 universities have chosen Google Apps for Education to help improve communication and collaboration on campus.

We’re proud to see such historic institutions moving to the world of 100% web. Here are just a few of the schools from this year’s “Top 100” that have gone Google:
  • Yale University
  • Northwestern University
  • Brown University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Southern California
  • Wake Forest University
  • William and Mary
  • Brandeis University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • University of Maryland
  • Boston University
  • Rutgers University
  • Clemson University
  • University of Minnesota
To show our appreciation to these great schools, and to help students better explore and evaluate their college options, we’re providing a year’s worth of free access to the U.S. News complete rankings for anyone who registers before Friday, September 16. Just sign up and you’re all set.

Finally, it’s not just about who is using Google Apps. We’re also interested in how students and staff are using Google tools to do amazing things inside and outside the classroom. Since 61 is the magic number, we’ve compiled 61 stories directly from students, faculty and staff at these universities:

These 61 schools represent just a small portion of the 14 million students, faculty and staff now using Google Apps for Education. All over the world, Google Apps is helping schools offer their communities a better way of working together, and we’re honored to be a part of this new tradition.


In May, the European Commission launched a Public Consultation on cloud computing to collect stakeholders’ input on opportunities and barriers to the adoption of cloud computing. Ms. Neelie Kroes, the Vice President of the European Commission and European Digital Agenda Commissioner, summarised Europe’s ambition quite well when she declared in a recent speech, that “the goal is to make Europe not just cloud-friendly but also cloud-active.”

At Google, we fully support the European Commission’s efforts in this area. Cloud computing is gaining traction in Europe and elsewhere. The cloud saves users money and it creates jobs. According to a recent study from Professor Federico Etro of the University of Venice, cloud computing in the EU will contribute 0.4% of GDP and create a million jobs by 2016. Similarly, in the United States Vivek Kundra, previously the Obama administration’s Chief Information Officer, recently pointed out in the New York Times that U.S. government agencies can gain significant economic benefits by moving their IT services to the cloud. And, as we said in July, the United States has reached out to industry for input. We’re thrilled that governments in Europe and the United States are so enthusiastic about cloud computing.

For these reasons, Google has submitted its contribution to this important debate in Europe. In particular, we have provided our point of view on what we consider key issues, namely:
  • The legislative framework: We suggest proposals to facilitate cloud adoption and to remove the legislative and administrative barriers service providers are facing in Europe, and still preserve consumer values and data protection.
  • Embracing interoperability and data portability: Google has put a lot of effort into tools and solutions aimed at giving users control over their data in the cloud and making data genuinely portable.
  • Public sector clouds: the public sector should lead by example in important fields like security and procurement, at the EU, national and local levels (similar to the “Cloud First” strategy in the United States).
  • Global solutions for global problems: one of the advantages of the cloud is scalability, which needs to be fostered by setting global standards, in particular in the areas of data protection and security.
At the end of the day, the European Commission has a great opportunity to come up with a proposal that modernizes the EU legislative framework and especially the EU data protection regime. The cloud offers the possibility to truly leverage the digital single market to the benefit of all Europeans, both users and providers, and we at Google hope our proposals will help the Commission take the right steps going forward.


(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog.)

In the past several months, we’ve added new discussion and commenting features to improve collaboration in Google documents. As an engineer, I often create docs with design concepts and send them to my team to review and provide feedback, and we use the commenting features to facilitate these discussions. Sometimes, I want to let team members view and make comments without allowing them to directly edit my document.

Over the next few days, we're releasing a new sharing option so that you can let people view and add comments to your documents without giving them edit access. To give comment-only access to your document, click on the Share button. From there, add in the contact you’d like to share your document with, and select Can comment.

You can also choose to give comment-only access to anyone with the link or anyone on the web by changing the sharing settings within the document. To do this, click Change in the sharing settings window and change visibility options to Public on the web or Anyone with the link, then change the access options to Can comment.

Similarly, if you’re using a Google Apps account, click Change in the sharing settings and select either “People at [your domain] who have the link can access” or “People at can find and access.” Then change access option to Can comment.

Users that have comment-only access can view your document and add comments throughout -- without being able to change the content of the document directly.

We hope this latest feature in discussions helps you get the feedback you need while providing you with more control over the content in your docs. So comment away and tell us what you think -- below or in the forum.

Posted by Alan Warren, Engineering Director

(Cross-posted from the Google Docs Blog.)

Not our best week. On Wednesday we had an outage that lasted one hour and meant that document lists, documents, drawings and Apps Scripts were inaccessible for the majority of our users. We use Google Docs ourselves every day, so we feel your pain and are very sorry.

So what happened? The outage was caused by a change designed to improve real time collaboration within the document list. Unfortunately this change exposed a memory management bug which was only evident under heavy usage.

Every time a Google Doc is modified, a machine looks up the servers that need to be updated. Due to the memory management bug, the lookup machines didn’t recycle their memory properly after each lookup, causing them to eventually run out of memory and restart. While they restarted, their load was picked up by the remaining lookup machines - making them run out of memory even faster. This meant that eventually the servers couldn’t properly process a large fraction of the requests to access document lists, documents, drawings, and scripts which led to the outage you saw on Wednesday.

Our automated monitoring noticed that attempts to access documents were failing at an increased rate, and alerted us 60 seconds later after the failure rate increased sharply. The engineering teams diagnosed the problem, determined that it was correlated with the feature change, and started rolling it back 23 minutes after the first alert. In parallel, we doubled the capacity of the lookup service to mitigate the impact of the memory management bug. The rollback completed 24 minutes later, and 5 minutes after that the outage was effectively over as the additional capacity restored normal function.

Since resolution, we have been assembling and scrutinizing the timeline of this event, and have assembled a list of steps which will both reduce the chance of a future event, decrease the time required to notice and resolve a problem, and limit the scope which any single problem can affect. We intend to take all these steps; some are not easy, but we're committed to keeping Google's services exceptionally reliable. In the meantime, rest assured that we take every outage very very seriously, and as always we'll post a full incident report of what happened to the Apps Dashboard once our investigation is complete. Again, we apologize for the inconvenience and frustration which the outage has caused.


Editors note:This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

In the previous post in this series, we described how Google’s cloud data centers are designed and built to protect the data that customers store in Google Apps. One of the benefits of this architecture is that our customers don’t have to maintain the systems that run Google Apps, we do it for them. This reduces both costs and risks for our customers.

One of the risks organizations face comes from malicious software (a.k.a. “malware”) that attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems and applications. As vulnerabilities are exposed, technology vendors issue patches to fix them in what has become a seemingly never-ending routine. This can be costly and time consuming as it becomes a race to patch vulnerabilities before they’re exploited. When organizations support multiple versions and types of operating systems and applications, the challenges increase rapidly. Using Google Apps eliminates servers and reduces the number applications that need to be patched, which helps reduce risk.

Customers such as Brian Hobbs, IT Director for Hunter Douglas have this to say about patch management in Google Apps: “The company saves money but even more importantly, I save time in administering licenses, installations, security patches, and training.”

Many organizations that I talk to describe how they have developed a proficiency in deploying patches in their legacy environments. They’ve done so out of necessity - there really was no choice. But these proficiencies carry high costs in terms of human resources and 3rd party patch management systems. Google Apps allows organizations to change this mindset and reduce the number of IT resources and 3rd party systems dedicated to the patch management process.

Andrew Murrey, Vice President of IT Infrastructure at Cinram North America, had this comment: “we calculated that we could be saving 60% on email alone by moving to Google Apps for Business – a clear winner when it came to price per user – but we also knew we’d save serious time on IT management, freeing my team up to do more strategic work.”

IT security professionals often ask me how we address patching. In our data centers we take a different approach to patch management. Rather than many different types of systems, we have a very homogeneous architecture that allows us to be highly efficient in deploying patches. The data center machines are specifically designed and identically configured in ways that reduce the potential number of vulnerabilities within our systems compared to traditional on-premise, so called “private cloud” and hybrid technologies. When a patch is required, our architecture allows us to deploy it very quickly across all our systems. And it’s seamless and invisible to our customers, which allows them to take a different approach to patch management as well: one that reduces risk and cost.

In the next post in the series we’ll look deeper into strong authentication. In the meantime, for more information about the data protections in place for Google Apps, please visit our Google Apps Trust page.


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

Cloud computing is secure, simple, keeps you productive and saves you money. But the cloud can also save energy. A recent report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Verdantix estimates that cloud computing has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by millions of metric tons. And Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor at Stanford who has led several studies on data center energy use, has written that for many enterprises, the cloud “is significantly more energy efficient than using in-house data centers.”

Because we’re committed to sustainability, we sharpened our pencils and looked at our own services to see how they stack up against the alternatives.

We compared Gmail to the traditional enterprise email solutions it’s replaced for more than 4 million businesses. The results were clear: switching to Gmail can be almost 80 times more energy efficient (PDF) than running in-house email. This is because cloud-based services are typically housed in highly efficient data centers that operate at higher server utilization rates and use hardware and software that’s built specifically for the services they provide—conditions that small businesses are rarely able to create on their own.

An illustration of inefficient server utilization by smaller companies compared to efficient utilization in the cloud.

If you’re more of a romantic than a businessperson, think of it this way: It takes more energy to send a message in a bottle than it does to use Gmail for a year, as long as you count (PDF) the energy used to make the bottle and the wine you drank.

We ran a similar calculation for YouTube and the results are even more striking: the servers needed to play one minute of YouTube consume about 0.0002 kWh of energy. To put that in perspective, it takes about eight seconds for the human body to burn off that same amount. You’d have to watch YouTube for three straight days for our servers to consume the amount of energy required to manufacture, package and ship a single DVD.

In calculating these numbers, we included the energy used by all the Google infrastructure supporting Gmail and YouTube. Of course, your own laptop or phone also consumes energy while you’re accessing Google, so it’s important to choose an efficient model.

There’s still a lot to learn about the global impacts of cloud computing, but one thing we can say with certainty: bit for bit, email for email, and video for video, it’s more efficient in the cloud.


Editors note: This post is part of a series that explores the top ten reasons why customers trust Google with their business data. A complete top ten list can be found here.

When users think of Google Apps, they often think of their Gmail inboxes or collaborating on documents in real time with others. They often don’t think of what’s going on behind the scenes. Our cloud computing data centers offer our customers scalability and reliability across all of our products and websites, supporting millions of businesses on Google Apps and over 1 billion Internet searches every day. Our pure and proven cloud offers Apps customers significant data protections that would be hard for those customers to achieve on their own. It’s also the infrastructure that we use to run our own business.

As we’ve grown, we’ve developed an expertise around building data centers and protecting the data stored in them. The machines in the data centers that run our applications are built to our own specifications, including ones focused on security. The hardware is limited to what is necessary for the applications to run, and eliminates unnecessary components such as peripheral connectors or video cards. Similarly, the software that we run on the machines is a specialized, stripped-down version of the Linux operating system leaving out any unnecessary software code such as device drivers. This approach helps provide a computing environment that is less prone to vulnerabilities, compared to typical on-premise, so called “private cloud” or hybrid IT environments.

The services we offer are first and foremost Internet-based applications and platforms. We were born on the Internet, not on a single computer or server. We've published some of our core underlying technologies such as BigTable, the SPDY protocol, Google FIle System (GFS) and MapReduce. The last two of which have gone on to inspire Hadoop, the Apache open source framework that underpins many leading cloud or big data applications. Googlers Luiz André Barroso and Urs Hölzle even wrote a mini-book about some of Google’s approaches, entitled “The Datacenter as a Computer: An Introduction to the Design of Warehouse-Scale Machines”.

Lots of users leads to lots of network traffic that allows us some significant advantages in terms of security. For instance, the spam filtering in Gmail gains rapid visibility into emerging and evolving spam and virus threats, which in turn helps us to block the vast majority of them. This kind of large scale Internet infrastructure also typically provides better protection from denial of service type attacks. It also puts us in a position to spot malicious traffic and help protect users from malware.

Unprecedented global scale would not matter without the ability to reliably deliver business critical services. That is another powerful feature of Google’s technology and process discipline. We’ve built our platform to withstand expected hardware failure, relying on software and highly automated processes in order to support a 99.9% uptime SLA that has no maintenance window. In 2010 Gmail uptime was 99.984% and we are over 99.99% for the first half of 2011. This is an approach you fundamentally can’t take with traditional on premise IT systems.

Running data centers at this kind of scale takes energy, but as a carbon-neutral company we strive to use as little as possible - in fact, our facilities use half the energy of a typical data center. You can read more about our efficiency efforts and our approach to purchasing renewable energy.

In just the 4.5 years I’ve been at Google, I’ve seen quite a few generational changes in the kit we run, be it “simple” things like sheet metal for servers to something more complex like our motherboards, or something even more fluid and complicated like our various software layers. Through all those upgrades, build outs, and migrations, the focus on reliability remains. This is something that keeps me coming back to work day after day, and drives me to help others understand the value we can add to protecting their data and powering their businesses.

Posted by Amit Singh, Vice President, Google Enterprise

Yesterday our chairman Eric Schmidt took the stage at Dreamforce with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to discuss the evolution of computing. In a wide-ranging conversation, they covered everything from the network computer to the consumerization of IT to the emerging primacy of mobile, social and local. You can watch the keynote here:

Eric pointed out that it’s the cloud that is allowing us to upend the old software model. High cost. Complex. Quickly out-of-date. Difficult to replace. We’ve exhausted what can be done with client-server.

Consumer technology is now shaping enterprise software, and it’s transforming the way we live and work. Ubiquitous. Easy to use. Flexible. Constantly innovating. Built for teams. We’ve embraced a user-first, 100% web approach with Google Apps, and it’s a big reason why more than 40 million people now use Apps. We also announced that 4 million businesses run on Apps and another 5,000 join the movement every day.

But of all the ideas Eric and Marc discussed, one resonated with me most: “Life is short, you should spend it working with people you enjoy.”


Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Roth LaFleur, Product Manager for Amirsys, a company specializing in delivering useful, timely medical information to physicians and other healthcare providers.

We have 40,000 users in 50 countries—top physicians, surgeons, and residents for STATdx—our imaging point-of-care, diagnostic clinical decision support portal. As you can imagine, time is a important to them and affects both the cost and quality of patient care. For busy radiologists, time spent performing diagnoses is tracked and billed on a per-minute basis and can be a critical factor in delivering care. This makes fast, relevant search a key element of STATdx. Working with Search Technologies, we integrated the Google Search Appliance (GSA) into the STATdx diagnostic support portal.

We were expending a high degree of effort to support the search capability in our STATdx portal. Even with a full-time employee dedicated to the effort, the relevance of search results continued to be unsatisfactory. The existing system lacked the ability to “learn” based on user interactions. Features such as spell correction, a “did you mean” function to recommend different terms, and translation of search terms needed to be accomplished through programming and constant tuning.

After a comparison of several service providers, we engaged Search Technologies Corporation to help us implement the Google Search Appliance. Search Technologies partnered with our team to identify the unique search needs and find an optimal approach to provide fast, relevant search for the STATdx decision support portal quickly and cost-effectively.

The Amirsys development team integrated the Search Appliance into STATdx, where now search is a central feature, accessible in every part of the user interface. Capabilities from Google such as automatic query completion greatly enhance decision-making due to improved usability, relevance, and speed. Before implementing the GSA, average response time for searches was five to seven seconds, with some very general searches taking up to 15 seconds. After integration of the GSA into STATdx, query time has been reduced to milliseconds, saving valuable time for Amirsys clients and the healthcare professionals and patients who rely on their diagnoses.

For us, integration of the Search Appliance into STATdx has enabled us to provide better, faster services and reduced costs by eliminating the need for someone dedicated full-time to the task of special programming and tuning. And for the radiologists who use the STATdx system, we are helping them by increasing speed, accuracy, and diagnostic confidence in complex cases—and most importantly elevating the quality of care.