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Longview city employees log onto cloud

By Sherry Koonce skoonce@news-journal.com
Oct. 9, 2012 at 11 p.m.

When Longview city workers logged onto their computers to start the work week Monday, they officially entered the cloud.

The browser-based "cloud-computing" system, known as Google Apps for Government, was rolled out after months of preparation.

"So far it has really gone smooth," said Justin Cure, city of Longview Information Services manager.

The city converted its email program from one that operates in-house to the Google-based system.

The change will save time and money, said Shawn Hara, city spokesman.

The City Council approved the move to Google Apps for Government in July.

The conversion will allow the city to eliminate the use of existing servers and annual maintenance contracts.

First year operations will cost $64,448 for the new system, which includes archiving information from the previous Groupwise system by Norvell, Hara said.

During the first year, the city anticipates a savings of $28,000 in equipment and licensing expenses.

Hara said the time was nearing to replace the seven aging email servers. Going to the new system made that expense unnecessary.

When adding in the time employees save by working with a more efficient system, Hara estimated the city would realize a total first-year savings of $44,000.

For years two and three, the city anticipates a savings of $43,580 for equipment and licensing expenses and a total of $116,555 when employee time is factored in.

Cure said the primary advantage of the new system is its increased mobility.

"It works better with smartphones. Employees can get their emails from anywhere and take care of city business," Cure said.

The system also offers a document storage location on the Internet, and will provide access to GoogleDocs, a word processing and spreadsheet application that allows collaboration between departments.

Because Google maintains the equipment, Longview's information technology staff should be freed up, Hara said.

"They will have the ability to work on more pressing projects than to reboot the email servers," Hara said.

During the months since the council approved the conversion, about 70 city employees, two from each department, have been trained to guide others through the transition.

The cities of Pittsburgh, Orlando, Fla., and Lewisville are among those that have converted to Google Apps for Government.



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