Cloud security clashes with politics in Los Angeles

It started as a noble effort by IT managers within the Los Angeles city government. Over the last eighteen months, they worked on a plan they believe capable of saving several million dollars while giving 30,000 municipal employees updated software.

They did their homework. They invited bids and sifted through fifteen different vendor proposals. They considered Google’s hosted solution one of the finalists, partly due to what they felt were superior security and privacy controls. Then they worked with Google for eight months to fine-tune the plan.

That’s when the second-guessing started. To gain approval for the contract, politicians had to get involved. Now consumer advocates are raising protests, claiming that the new system will be less secure because it is in a cloud. A consumer advocate referred to the recent hacking of Twitter’s Google Docs system as evidence. Their complaint has no specific issues with the Los Angeles city plan. It does take aim at Google, hitting it with charges that were dug out of the company’s SEC disclosure, the part where all public companies are required to identify any and all risks.

The old email system was based on Novell’s Groupwise and Microsoft Office. If the plan had been approved, the upgrade would have taken place by the end of the year. Now there’s no telling what the politicians may do.

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