The Los Angeles City Council today approved a $7.2 million deal to transition its internal-server-based email system to Google's free email services. The move was designed to save the city money, and apparently it will, but why is the council paying more than 7 mil to use the kind of gmail services we all get for free?

The issue is security. In fact, the prospect of storing sensitive city hall and police department information in the internet “cloud” threatened to sidetrack the proposal to move to free email services. But the council's approval includes a contract with Computer Sciences Corp. to make the transition and keep email secure. In fact, the deal spells out that CSC will pay a penalty if city email is breached.

The switch to cloud computing on the part of the city is a huge coup for Google, which has quietly been moving in on Microsoft's Office suite of software by offering similar products — email, “docs,” spreadsheets — for free.

Some employees will begin using Google's email system in June, according to the Los Angeles Times, with the police department waiting it out to see if it presents any security glitches. Eventually 30,000 employees are slated to use gmail.

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