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Hillingdon Googles For Business Apps Cloud

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The London Borough of Hillingdon is migrating its 3,500 staff to the Google Apps for Business Cloud service

Hillingdon Council will be migrating to the cloud in what it believes to be a first for local authorities in the UK.

The West London council said in a statement that it has approved a plan to shift to Web-based working with Google Apps for Business for its 3,500 staff early next year. The council hopes to save £2.98 million in maintainance costs over four years.

App you go

This move follows a competitive tender process where on 24 November the council struck a four-year deal with Google Apps for business reseller Cloudreach. The contract, which can be extended for two further one year periods has been valued at £540,000 over the contract period, according to a Guardian newspaper report.

“While other councils have piloted cloud technologies, Hillingdon understands it is the first to award a contract of this scale,” said the statement.

The cost saving is is not the only benefit of migrating, according to the council. “Reducing the need for local storage and server space to hold email and other data means a reduction in the council’s carbon footprint as well as in its bills,” it added.

Although staff will have to change the way they do their jobs – accessing their usual desktop applications such as email, calendar, documents and word processing via a Web browser rather than through the traditional software many are used to – the council believes that Google Apps will allow for a better internal collaboration which will improve productivity.

“Staff will be able to access documents anywhere and at anytime, work on documents together online in real time and take advantage of instant messaging and voice and video conferencing,” said the statement.

“Hillingdon Council will be able to consider new ways of working to better deliver local public services while continuing to meet mandatory obligations for security and handling data,” it said, adding that residents will also get improved value for money and a better customer service experience due to Google’s claims of better than 99.9 percent availability, 365 days a year.

Councillor Jonathan Bianco, cabinet member for Finance, Property and Business Services, said that going with Google made the most sense for Hillingdon economically and that it would allow the council to “realise the tremendous opportunities afforded by cloud computing”.

“Doing this means we’re ahead of the curve in anticipating the changes in technology over the coming years,” he said. “It also means we’ll have more opportunities to look at how we communicate with local residents and organisations in the Borough, such as remote working.

“Simply, it makes both financial and business transformational sense to make the change,” Bianco added.