Boston Has Officially Moved Into the Google Cloud

The city's IT department successfully switched 76,000 city employees, police officers, teachers, and students to the Google Apps platform.

Google Photo Uploaded By Robert Scoble on Flickr

Google Photo Uploaded By Robert Scoble on Flickr

As Boston welcomed incoming Mayor Marty Walsh on Monday, it also ushered in another big change: The city has officially moved everyone into the Cloud.

Bill Oates, Boston’s Chief Information Officer, announced that the city successfully shifted from its old Microsoft Exchange system to Google Cloud, giving more than 76,000 people in the city their own Google Apps accounts and email addresses.

“As a tech-savvy city, we’re always looking for the best IT tools to help our government run smarter, innovate more effectively, and provide better services for our citizens,” said Oates, in a post on Google’s news blog. “Our new unified, cloud-based communication system is [a] pretty big change from our old set-up. Our agencies worked together to manage their mail environments, with resources focused on mail administration and working across the group structures. Our largest department, the public school district, operated on a very separate environment that was in need of a major technical upgrade.”

Boston employees will now work with Google Docs and be able to store information online easier, while backing it up in Google’s Cloud services. These tools will be hosted and managed in the Cloud, with technical support, maintenance, and security provided with the assistance of the vendor, according to a prior press release from city officials.

The shift from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps provides city employees, police officers, teachers—and even 50,000 students—their very own Google email address, accessible from any device, at any time. “All in all, we’ve securely moved more than 20 million email messages to the cloud. Every city employee—from police, to education, public works, transportation and beyond—has a Google account and a email address accessible from any device, anywhere. We are confident Google’s secure, FISMA-compliant cloud environment ensures that city data is safe and private,” said Oates.

The switch was first announced in May, and cost the city around $800,000. Oates said Boston will save money by taking on the contract with Google, as opposed to the outdated Microsoft system. “We clearly saw cloud services as the most cost effective, supportable platform to address our future needs,” Oates said.

The decision to switch to Google Apps from Microsoft Exchange came after an “extensive review” of the market, and Request For Proposals. Oates said a selection committee evaluated 10 proposals based on cost and technical capabilities, and unanimously chose Google Apps “based on its ability to meet the needs of a fast-moving city while providing a secure cloud environment.”

“After 20 years in office, Mayor Thomas Menino is departing—making way for incoming Mayor Marty Walsh—and we’re proud to hand the new administration the country’s most advanced, fully-functioning, cloud-based communications system to keep our city at the forefront of technology innovation,” Oates wrote.