Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

Hawaii Needs a Cabinet Level CTO & Google Apps

In late 2008 Google posted the results of a comprehensive study by the Radicati Group regarding the reliability of Exchange, Lotus Notes, GroupWise and Gmail. They found that while Gmail averaged less than 15 minutes of downtime per month (almost all of which came from one outage in August of 2008), companies using on-premise email solutions such as Exchange "...averaged from 30 to 60 minutes of unscheduled downtime and an additional 36 to 90 minutes of planned downtime per month." Exchange was the worst offender of the lot:

Some local businesses and schools have already made the transition. We had a great panel discussion today with Punahou CTO Wendi Kamiya, who lead their migration from a legacy system to Google Apps. She had nothing but good things to say about the move. Governments in other parts of the country are also making the jump. Los Angeles was the most recent large city to move to Google. LA's CIO Randi Levin put it simply, "Their security is better than computing is safe." The cities short term savings is predicted to be $13.8M. Think what we could save. Maybe we could even get our children back in school on Fridays...

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Comment by Ken Mayer on February 12, 2010 at 2:01pm
Like the CTO from Los Angeles said, "Their security is better than ours..." Google Apps software developers have a much better probability of protecting security and privacy than any thing our state could afford. It's their business, unlike state government which is about, well, other things.
Comment by Joel M. Leo on February 12, 2010 at 1:44pm
I love Google Apps and use it myself. However, I have concerns over the government doing the same for the following reasons:

1) Privacy. At one point Google Apps granted themselves unlimited license to uploaded content. They've rectified that, but it brings up this HUUUUGE concern - privacy of the content stored in the cloud. Their motto may be "do no evil" but that didn't stop them. Only the overwhelming reaction from the community changed their approach.

2) Availability. Yes, having stuff in the cloud means its generally more accessible to those who need it. However, without internet connectivity, you'll lose access to your documents as well as your email. With internal systems, loss of external connectivity is an annoyance, but is not a work stoppage, minus email and access to external systems.

3) Security. Placing stuff in the cloud has inherent security risks. Remember the hack that recently came to light in which gmail accounts for multiple companies and individuals were compromised? Internal documents stored in the cloud become entirely vulnerable and are at the mercy of the security profile of the provider.

Of course, there are methods and mechanisms to address these and the other issues involved. Without knowing how the government would address these concerns I would vote "No."
Comment by Ken Mayer on February 12, 2010 at 12:46pm
One more bureaucrat, but 1,000 fewer random IT guys scattered through the government. We could also get better access to data (by simply making a document publicly readable).
Comment by Seth Ladd on February 12, 2010 at 12:22pm
Let me know what petition to sign or who to call. Basically... now what?
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 12, 2010 at 12:15pm
Seth - Exactly. Great third party apps that integrate with Google Apps are being released every month. In terms of compliance, we could just copy the agreement LA has with Google. They faced all the same concerns.

David - I'm glad you enjoyed the AITP discussion. I had a good time and I enjoyed hearing from Wendi about Punahou's migration.
Comment by Seth Ladd on February 12, 2010 at 11:15am
Amen to google apps, Hawaii should absolutely adopt this. If there's any compliance concerns, there's always paying for Postini with Google Apps, which is definitely cheaper than buying Office for everyone and maintaining it.
Comment by Alyssa K on February 12, 2010 at 10:48am
Great post Dan!
Comment by David Heerwald Leonard on February 12, 2010 at 10:45am
Great panel discussion yesterday at AITP on Google Apps. I'm currently at my second start-up using corporate Google Apps with great success and the migration went very well with Dan and Mika's help! I like Dan's idea for the public sector. It would seem that the public sector's procurement requirement to use the low bidder would be a perfect way to get Google Apps adopted in the public sector here. The other factor that would help adoption, and may need to come from Google, is a more formal description of their program and infrastructure to address privacy concerns for personal information on the public sector databases to address the State's statutory requirements. This is also still a big concern in the private sector related to HIPAA and confidential attorney-client communications.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 12, 2010 at 8:45am
JW: I'm not sure Hawaii needs another bureaucrat...

Generally I agree, but in this case adding one competent bureaucrat at this level would result in a net reduction because our IT infrastructure is simply too big. We are doing lots of things that Google can do better.
Comment by JW Guillaume on February 11, 2010 at 9:46pm
I'm not sure Hawaii needs another bureaucrat...

But I absolutely agree that the State of Hawaii could save a lot of money (our tax payer money) by using Google Apps and other open source alternatives.

Where this would be especially effective would be the State of Hawaii Department of Education. Throwing more money at our educational system will not improve it, innovation and courage to try something new, something bold, will change our second rate educational system to top rate educational system. We have good people we just need good leadership.

Mahalo to the participants and organizers of the discussion panel for sharing so much with us.


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