Thanks to Daniel Lynch's recent post, Google misses deadline for L.A. city email system: LA Times I went back and read the full story on the LA Times site. This is wonderful story of a company (Google) who claim to know enterprise computing but in reality are so far out of their depth that National Security could be at risk here.

So the story goes like this:

Google promised "state of the art" and cheaper email system than the City currently has with Novel Groupwise. The CIO believed them, the Council believed them and so in swoop Google to deliver on all their promises for  30,000 users by 6/30/2010. In a true "you needed to be a rocket scientist to see this one coming", Google missed the deadline. The reason Google missed the deadline?

Google has run into roadblocks at the Los Angeles Police Department, which has strict rules about the way its data is secured...Until Google can address those concerns, city officials say, LAPD will continue to use the old system — in effect forcing the city to pay for both the new and old e-mail programs at an additional cost that could rise to more than $400,000 over the next year

Are you kidding me? Why on earth would a law enforcement agency (of any size) put their email on the cloud? Are you insane? Do you want to be famous and on the front of your local tabloid newspaper when it all goes wrong?

So who's fault was this asked Council member Dennis Zine at a come to Jesus meeting with Google and CoLA IT? Your fault you idiot! You can blame Google, but really, they are just an advertising company. Would you give your firearms contract to a water pistol manufacture? Sure they are cheaper but is it really their fault when the water pistol fails to fire real bullets when the Police officer uses it? It is your fault, Councilman and your deranged IT department.

Yes, Google has some blame here, but they are merely a 4 year old learning to talk and walk all the time trying to stick their fingers in power outlets. Google are so busy claiming to know this stuff that they neglected to actually learn this stuff. In fact I'd go as far to say that Google are so busy trying to "innovate" that they forget to cogitate. Google are a consumer company, not an enterprise company. These environments have different needs. Wow....these CIO folks just don't get it do they?

Then Google's response, another classic:

Google executive Jocelyn Ding said the company was committed to fulfilling its contract but admitted that it had missed "some details" in the original requirements

As Daniel points out it has to be laughable that to Google security seems to equal "some details".

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Period!

Last October, Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to commit to Google's vision of online computing.

This July, Los Angeles became the reason that no organization should ever trust Google's vision of online computing.

What is more worrying here, is that some Google Cr-Apps have just been approved for Federal Government use! WTF people? Google gets hacked by (purportedly) the Chinese government and now you approve it's use? Is the "drug czar" distributing crack cocaine to all of you? Is anyone reading the tea leaves here? The Feds should just copy all their secret and confidential data to a big SAN and ship it to the Chinese, North Koreans and the Iranians. Has the Federal Government, like the City of L.A. been so overawed by the claims of Google that they forget about National Security? Or data protection laws like HIPPA, SOX and the State mandates on encryption?

Then you add in Vivek Kundra, the Federal CIO and his insane push to the cloud. He just worships Google in this video. From a Computer World article:
I don't think there's anything to delay massive adoption [of cloud based services] by the federal government, except security......The feds have always outsourced everything. What you're talking about is outsourcing at lower cost and at higher capacity. Tell me why that's a bad idea?

"Except security"? How did this guy pass the interview?

Mr Kundra, you answered your own question, and now L.A. has given you the synopsis. Hopefully you can adjust your belief in Google to a more reasonable level of dis-trust. Hopefully Mr Kundra you have realized, thanks to L.A. that "consumer technologies in the public space" may not be such a good idea. GIS and Google Earth, fine. Sensitive information in need of security, not so much.

May I also suggest that the D.C. Fire, Police, HR and Finance Departments talk to L.A. and also do a security audit.

Note to the editor of the LA Times, there are several mistakes in the article, but maybe Google told you "other email systems, such as Outlook" were "older".

Disclaimer, I hate Gmail (it always takes me 30 seconds to find the button to forward an email! What's up with that?). I fire it up to send test emails to a real email system, IBM Lotus Domino and Notes. Oh, which is secure. You know, with encryption and stuff. Oh, and with a built in secure PKI ID infrastructure. But you want cheap.........ah.........well, you get what you pay for, but remember, cheaper isn't always, if ever, better. But what do you care? It's not like it's your money you are throwing at it when it all goes wrong.

Idiots. The lot of them.
Darren Duke   |   July 31 2010 03:25:00 AM   |    gmail  google    |  
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Comments (5)

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1 - Darren Duke    07/31/2010 4:13:26 AM

As I proofed the post it suddenly dawned on me. Google are mirroring the long held principles of Microsoft - bolt on security as an after thought, not during design and development. In this world, security cannot and should not be an after thought. Good for the LAPD for sticking to their guns (figuratively). Incidentally, Google's marketing and sales tactics of late are starting to smell like Microsoft's too.

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2 - David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)       07/31/2010 10:41:15 AM

Of course. Many Google employees are former Microsoft employees. Some are in product development and some are in marketing. And they prove once again that it does not take the best product to be successful.

They will be able to sell as long as P.T. Barnum's theorem holds true: "There's one born every minute."

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3 - Lisa Duke    08/01/2010 8:20:36 AM

What's interesting is IBM's response (or lack thereof).

For years, people used Outlook at home and then clamored for Outlook at work. The Lotus world said, hey, let's offer free Notes for home users and optimize it to work with POP3 and IMAP. IBM said no, and we've been playing defense for years.

In recent years, IBM's reason to not offer free home Notes was that no one was using Outlook at home any more anyway, that they were going to webmail (Google).

Now people who use Google at home are clamoring to use it at work and guess what, Lotus is playing defense AGAIN.

IBM, if you want to win round 2 of the email wars, provide free Lotus Live email for home users. Let people see what a great product you have and try to bring it in to work. Let's put MS and Google on the defensive for a change.

And while you are at it, make sure customers can sign up on line and pay monthly with a credit card. If you are going to pay in this space you have to make purchasing easy. Add a drop down box for them to select their partner and a back end process like SVI where( if they forget to add us) we can show the supporting sales documentation and get credit.

Shift your paradigm or get pushed out, IBM. You can't sell applications like you sell hardware and middleware and be successful.

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4 - Darren Duke    08/01/2010 9:31:04 AM

@3, I don't necessarily disagree with the premise of "free", but there is a big difference between how IBM and how Google make money. The vast majority of Google's revenue comes from advertising. They can give free email away and this is "funded by" click through revenue from the ads displayed on the free email. IBM doesn't have this business model, and nor, in my opinion, should it. You do hit on several good items though for LotusLive (IBM's cloud offerings):

a) For per user, per month email the customer should be able to pay by credit card. Outblaze apparently had this, so it has been removed for some reason (my guess is PPA). It is long overdue for IBM to revisit the hoop jumping that is passport advantage (PPA) and this should be the first area that is rectified. I would love to know how many IBM customers move to competitors just because of PPA.

b) If I am being quoted per user per month on LotusLive then I should be able to pay per user per month. Again, as this is in passport advantage this is an annual purchase, with a one time fee every 12 months. One of the advantages that I see with IBM and LotusLive over their competitors is that you could add temporary workers to a LL iNotes accounts and leave your perm employees on premise. BUT "temporary" would probably necessitate that I, as a customer, don't need a full 12 months of iNotes access for them yet, at least right now, I still have to fork out for a 12 month account.

All that being said, I if IBM were to foray into the consumer market, then their outcome maybe just as bad as Google's adventures into the corporate/enterprise world. I see neither doing very good on the other side of the fence.

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5 - Lisa Duke    08/01/2010 9:53:06 AM

Darren, thanks for at least agreeing with a few of my points.

Readers, if you enjoy hearing us bicker in public, you'll love { } Episodes 9 & 10....