ASG DoIT hosts Google reps this week

Public invited to session at Lee Auditorium this afternoon
Google Campus in Mountain View [photo: website/ Martin Stehr]

PAGO PAGO, AS —The Department of Information Technology (DoIT) is hosting Google this week for a series of meetings and presentations to various government agencies and members of the community.

According to Easter Asi Bruce, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of DoIT, "the lead up to planning Google's visit to the territory this week stemmed from American Samoa's attendance at Google's annual premier event ‘Atmosphere 2011: A view from the cloud.’

“With the event taking place at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California in November of last year, I joined about 350 of the world's leading CIOs to explore innovative solutions.  I attended because I believe we (ASG) needed to explore ‘the cloud’ to meet the operational challenges of future government business, but more importantly to begin communicating and collaborating on a level never broached before,” said Asi Bruce.

“Atmosphere 2011 provided a day filled with inspirational and motivational perspectives on technology and innovation from business leaders, innovators and some of the leading thinkers of our time,” she continued.

“ An event was MC'd by Dr. Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Computer Science, Harvard School of Engineering, and  the list of speakers were simply amazing.  Speakers ranged from Google Executives and  Google Vice Presidents to include Vint Cerf, referred to as a "founding father" of the Internet to the DreamWorks Animation Team, just to name a few.”

Asi Bruce continued, "I left Google headquarters to return home to see how American Samoa— specifically the government— could benefit from Google's cloud computing services."

After weeks of email exchanges, a date was set and the rest was history, said Asi Bruce.

Google executives arrived this past Sunday night and kicked the week off with a full schedule of meetings and presentations.

“We wanted to make sure that even though Google is arriving to meet with the IT Department, that we try to help other IT managers supporting ASG, as well as the business community.  We also reached out to the Department of Education leadership and the American Samoa Community College leadership to seek available times for presentations and meetings because many of the Google Apps for Education are free.” said the ASG CIO.

The IT Department currently uses Google Docs, Group Calendaring, Email and Chat Functions.

Asi Bruce says, "it has taken time to get comfortable with Google cloud services but we have reached a point where I don't think we can do without. The Google Docs feature will save ASG money on not having to buy Office Suite software, which is expensive.”

Google Docs offers office automation cloud software such as Word (Google:  Documentation), Powerpoint (Google:  Presentation), and Excel (Google: Spreadsheet).  Additionally, Google Docs offers an ability to create Forms and Drawings, she noted.

“My department is on a tight budget and so we're looking into solutions that will save us money but also empower my staff with modern, web-based email and collaboration applications. Furthermore, Google Apps for Government obtained their Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification and accreditation providing maximum security.  Cyber security is the most vital element, and the reason we are considering Google products.  Gmail services also tout 25GB storage—which is more storage than my department can ever provide to ASG email customers” says Asi Bruce.

The CIO also said, "the as.gov email services we currently manage, operate and maintain will migrate over to Google services – which is one of the goals for this visit, to discuss the migration details before the budget cycle starts for ASG."

“As an avid fan of Microsoft SharePoint in my previous DoD life, it was a fantastic collaboration, a calendar and email package that I could not do without, but very expensive.  At the time, it was only specific to Microsoft Office products because it was a Microsoft product and only applicable to a laptop or desktop, not smart phones.

The problem is we have MAC and PC users, and the ubiquity of smart phones of varying Operating Systems (OS) such as Android, BlackBerry, and iPhones. We simply cannot afford to purchase applications that are specific to only one OS platform” she explained.

“This is another cost saving benefit Google Apps come with— it is not specific to any OS— be it smart phone, laptop or desktop, at no added cost. Just ask my staff who use Google products with their smart phones who religiously check calendars, Gmail, revise a document real-time, or chat (text) to manage their daily tasks.”

American Samoa joins a list of agencies, governments, businesses, and universities that have "Gone Google."

Wyoming is the first state to Go Google followed by Utah and recently Colorado announced they will move over to the Google cloud.

Many cities in the US, such as Pittsburgh, Orlando, Los Angeles, Des Moines, District of Columbia and counties have gone over to Google.

Mid 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) went over to Google as well as the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).  

“We are starting small with as.gov customers and phasing the migration as interests grow from the other ASG organizations”, says Bruce.

“The bottom line with considering Google is to transform how we communicate, with solid security we need as an enterprise — but not the added costs." 

The Google team will provide a Google Apps for Government presentation to the Governor's Cabinet and other key leaders in ASG at the Lee Auditorium this morning (Tuesday morning) March 27 starting at 9:30 am.  This presentation is a closed session for the Cabinet and their senior managers.

The public is invited this afternoon Tuesday, March 27 @ 1:30 for a Google Apps presentation.

Doors to the Lee Auditorium will open at 1:00 for early seating and the presentations will begin promptly at 1:30 pm.

For more information, please contact Acting Deputy Director, Nathan P. Ilaoa at 633-3649.

(Source: ASG DoIT media release)


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